As the Ceremonial Home of British Columbia, Government House contains the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, the representative of Her Majesty The Queen of Canada. As an official residence, accommodation is afforded to visitors that can include members of the Royal Family, international royalty, ambassadors, members of the judiciary and other honoured guests of British Columbia. The Lieutenant Governor stays at Government House when carrying out official duties and the personal standard can be seen flying from the flagpole when she is present.
The grounds are composed of 14.6 hectares, consisting of 8.9 hectares of a Garry Oak ecosystem, and 5.7 hectares of formal gardens including the Bruce Pavilion, Rotary Garden of International Friendship, Victorian and Sunken and Rose Gardens, Winter, Iris, Perennial, Alpine, Heather, Herb, Great Hall Terraces, Cut Flower, Cottage and English Country Gardens. All garden areas are wheelchair accessible
The site has an interesting history as this is the fourth residence to be built here. The original structure, erected in 1852, burned to the ground after only three months. It was rebuilt as Cary Castle, the residence of George Hunter Cary, Attorney General of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, in 1860, and purchased in 1865 as the official residence of the Governor of Vancouver Island. In 1866, Vancouver Island merged with Mainland British Columbia to form a single Crown Colony, of which Victoria became its Capital in 1868. On 20 July 1871, British Columbia entered Confederation, and Cary Castle became Government House, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of British Columbia. In May 1899, in the closing year of a turbulent century, the House was completely destroyed by fire. A new Government House, designed by architects Francis M. Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure was completed in 1903 until it too was razed by fire in April 1957. The present Government House was officially opened on May 19, 1959.
Government House is the official residence of British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor, the representative of the Queen of England. Although it is a private residence and therefore not open to the public, its magnificent gardens can be visited free of charge. The 35 acres estate includes 15 different types of gardens, including an English country garden, a lily garden and a Victorian rose garden. The grounds are open daily, from dawn until dusk.
Government House and its grounds cover 36 acres in the prestigious Rocklands area of Victoria, about a five minute drive from the Inner Harbour on Rockland Avenue. There is an impressive mansion on-site, as well as beautiful gardens.
The current house is the fourth residence to exist on the site, after it's predecessors were all destroyed by fires. The current house was built in 1959. The third house on the site, which was built in 1903 and burned down in 1957, was designed by two famous Victoria architects- Francis Rattenbury and Samuel McClure (local streets have been named after both of them).
For those of you who don't know, the Lieutenant Governor is appointed to represent BC by the Governor General of Canada. Their role is to represent the Queen in activites that honor Canadians, bring Canadians together and promote Canada. While the Prime Minister is the head of Canadian government, we still recognize the Queen as our head of state.
If you think you have to visit Buchart Gardens in order to see beautiful gardens in Victoria, you are wrong! Only five minutes from Victoria's Inner Harbour is Goverment House, the home to BC's Lieutenant Governor. This property boasts 36 acres of beautiful gardens!
David Lam, the L.G. from 1989-1995 undertook a great project in developing the gardens to their current magnificent state. There are currently about twenty unique gardens, including:
- The English Country Garden
- The Sunken Rose Garden
- The Heather Garden
- The Iris Garden
- The Woodlands
- The Cut Flower Garden
With a few exceptions, the grounds are open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. There are different guided tours each month that focus on whichever flowers are currently in bloom, admission for these adult-oriented tours is $10.