EDMONTON - Shining in the bright Edmonton sunset and draped in the Canadian flag, the casket carrying former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed arrived in the legislature Sunday night.
Over three dozen people stood in silence as a police-escorted motorcade arriving from Calgary pulled up to the red-carpeted front steps of the Alberta Legislature Building at precisely 7 p.m.
With great care and confidence, eight red-serge Mounties carried the casket up the stairs, beneath the mahogany-carved provincial coat of arms and into the legislature where Lougheed will lie in state Monday and Tuesday.
The public will be allowed to pay their respects to the late former premier starting Monday morning. A book of condolences will also be available inside the legislature for members of the public to sign and leave their thoughts.
Watching the ceremony from the base of the water fountain, St. Albert resident Karl Oelke said he was planning on signing the book Monday. The 63-year-old considered Lougheed to be one of Alberta's greatest leaders.
"I followed him and he was actually one of my favourite premiers," Oelke reminisced. "He definitely was a man that didn't have it easy.
Especially going against Ottawa on national energy policy. He was a fighter and I really valued what he stood for."
Earlier this year, Lougheed was named Canada's greatest premier of the past 40 years based on a survey by the Institute for Research and Public Policy.
Across Canada, words of condolences are continuing to pour in online at the government's website Alberta.ca.
Jay O'Neill, a spokesman with the premier's office, said the government has received 110 online condolences, some from as far away as North Carolina and Mexico.
"He was a great premier and was (always) ready to shake (someone's) hand," the condolence from Mexico read.
Lougheed, who was Alberta's premier from 1971 to 1985, died Thursday at age 84 in the Calgary hospital bearing his name following a lengthy illness.
Working as Alberta's 10th premier, Lougheed is widely credited with modernizing Alberta's social, environmental, health and energy revenue regimes while pioneering the province's rights.
His first term saw the start of a decade-long development boom. Lougheed later established the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund, which used oil revenues to invest in key areas like health care and research.
Flags at government buildings, schools and businesses around the province were lowered to half-staff in honour of Lougheed on Thursday. Prime Minister Stephen Harper eulogized Lougheed as a driver of Alberta economic diversification while "working tirelessly toward a strong, united Canada."
As the casket fell from view and the front doors of the Alberta Legislature closed Sunday night, a slow, respectful round of applause emerged from the crowd --some wiping away tears.
The doors will open to members of the public who wish to pay their respects beginning at 10:30 a.m. Monday.