The spring sitting of Manitoba's legislature ended this past Monday with Bill 201 being one of three Bills brought forward by the Progressive Conservatives to receive the Royal Assent.

Bill 201 amends the Manitoba Emblems Act to include the mottled dolomitic limestone, commonly known as Tyndall stone, as Manitoba's new provincial stone.

The Bill is sponsored by Official Opposition Leader, and MLA for Lac du Bonnet, Wayne Ewasko.

"My constituency, the Lac du Bonnet constituency, takes in the communities of Tyndall and Garson and Tyndall stone, or limestone, is quarried right in the community of Garson," explains Ewasko. "In some of the older homes you have limestone but it's starting to really come around again as something that is sought after by builders and masonries."  

Limestone can be found in notable buildings like the Manitoba Legislative Building, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Parliamentary Building in Ottawa, and the Canadian Embassy in Japan.

"If you walk through just the Manitoba Legislature alone and take a really close look at the walls there are fossils that are etched in that limestone, or had been captured in that limestone, all over the place," shares Ewasko.  "It seems like that limestone just attracts people to want to touch it!"

"It's pretty exciting!" he adds. "Not that long ago it received recognition on the world stage as well. So, working with and chatting with the Gillis family and bringing this to fruition, the nice thing is it received Royal Assent on Monday, technically Tuesday morning!"

The fossil-rich white and cream-colored limestone has played a significant role in Manitoba's architectural history, with its first use dating back to the construction of the warehouse and walls of HBC's Lower Fort Garry in 1832. 

Tyndall Stone was first discovered 9 years earlier by Hudson's Bay Company employees who noticed an exposure along the banks of the Red River near Selkirk.  It was in 1894 when a major deposit was discovered in Garson by a farmer digging a well. He hit limestone.  The first large quarry opened in 1898.  

A stone cutter, August Gillis, was introduced to limestone in a small shop in Winnipeg in 1910. The family-operated Gilles Quarries was founded in 1910 and is the only quarry in the world mining the stone.

"So, it's got a rich history of connection to Manitoba, and we know that Tyndall stone is used not only throughout Canada but also around the world," shares Minister Ewasko.

Tyndall Stone was designated as a global heritage stone resource in October of 2022 by a sub commission of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). "It's the only Canadian stone on the IUGS list of 32 heritage stones," adds Ewasko.

Please listen to more with Wayne Ewasko below!

(Photo credit below: Manitoba Heritage Society photographer George Penner)