Secrets under the dome: Edmonton mysteries revealed

Budget 2017 filled the marble-clad halls of the Alberta legislature with hordes of reporters, politicians and pundits this week.

But the stately Edmonton landmark is more than just a majestic backdrop for pontification.

"It's a public place to celebrate democracy," said Al Chapman, manager for visitor services for the legislative assembly.  

And with the session in play, school groups touring through and staff gearing up for Canada's 150th anniversary, this is the "peak time of year" at the legislature building at 10800 97th Avenue, said Chapman.

In 2016 the legislature grounds saw a total of 224,000 visitors, up 19 per cent from the year before. 

That was "partly because the new visitor services centre in the federal building was open for the full year," said Chapman, and partly because of new rotating art shows drawing local visitors.

Chapman says the art, history and architecture draws many tourists but so do the secrets, surprises and oddities.

"For example, we have a hamburger from 1969," said Valerie Footz, the legislature librarian. "When the hamburger was tabled to protest the (cafeteria) food that was in the assembly, the clerk at the time had it encased in resin and it is now available for eternity for consultation."

It's one of the more than 450,000 items in the library, tucked away behind the main staircase.

The  awe-inspiring building is open to the general public 362 days a year.

"I still get goosebumps every day when I walk in that building," said Chapman. "It's an honour to work here."

You can seem more from the Legislative Assembly of Alberta on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m. Sunday at 11 a.m. and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC TV.