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Government House:

The beautiful historic site of Government House and the Cary Castle Mews is located in British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria which is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. With the island’s more temperate climate, visitors from across North America come to experience this official government residence landmark year round. Housed in these impressive buildings is the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, representing Her Majesty The Queen as well as the administration offices supporting all its associated activities and duties.

It is easy to be impressed from the moment one steps into the entrance hall with its beautiful oak paneling adorned by depictions of former Chatelaines and stately oil portraits of 27 previous Lieutenant Governors of British Columbia. Running the length of the walls along the main staircase features the heraldic coats of arms of members of the The Royal Family as well as of Governors General who have stayed in Government House. One can also view large magnificent paintings of Her Majesty The Queen and of His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh.

Upon entering the Ballroom, one can immediately appreciate the focus of this room as the architectural centerpiece of Government House. With a length of 27 metres (90 feet) and its expansive 12 metre (40 feet) high ceilings this Ballroom has easily accommodated many of the largest and most lavish official events of Government House. Panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca as well as the famous Terrace Gardens can be seen from the balcony at the back of the Ballroom. Reflections at Government House, a textile work of art by local British Columbia artist, Carol Sabiston, reflecting the magnificent view proudly hangs over mirrors on the stage. More than 150 events are hosted here each year including formal plated dinners for 300, receptions for up to 400, the New Year’s Day Levee and more.

Formal luncheons and dinners for up to 40 people are hosted in the Dining Room which is beautifully paneled in fir and has been modeled after the original Rattenbury-Maclure design. The grand dining room table, chairs and Jacobian sideboard are certainly the room’s focal point. They were originally purchased in Scotland by former Lieutenant Governor Frank Mackenzie Ross and his wife, Mrs. Phyllis Ross and later donated by the couple to Government House.

Both the main drawing room and the Little Drawing Room are tastefully decorated and invite an air of welcome and tasteful charm. The main Drawing Room hosts numerous awards ceremonies, smaller receptions and receiving lines. The Little Drawing Room is often referred to as the French Drawing Room which features a number of furnishings of French origin.

The Maclure Room on the lower floor was named after Samuel Maclure who was one of the architects of the predecessor to today’s Government House. It is occasionally used as a press room but is generally used for informal meals for staff and important visitors. The Rattenbury Room on the second floor acts as a second dining room for smaller luncheons and dinners of up to 10 guests. One is certainly in the midst of history in the Rattenbury Room which contains the personal dining set of Francis Rattenbury, the original 1903 Government House architect. Guests dine at a table, chairs and sideboard that are on loan from the Royal British Columbia Museum.

The magnificent estate Gardens overlook an ancient Garry Oak meadow with expansive views of the snow capped Olympic Mountains and the Straight of Georgia. The Government House Gardens are extensive and contain a large rockery overlooking the ocean, a herb garden which features Mediterranean herbs and of course the neighouring culinary gardens used by Government House chefs. These carefully planned gardens showcase a variety of plants designed to bloom year-round.

The expansive grounds and gardens are maintained and enhanced by both Government House and The Friends of Government House Gardens Society. From its outset of a small group of volunteers to today’s 275 members, countless hours have been spent in the preservation and enhancement of The Gardens. Members of The Friends of Government House Gardens Society invite questions from the public regarding membership, information about The Gardens or fundraising events. They can be contacted at (250) 356-5139 or for more information regarding Government House please call 250-387-2080 or e-mail ghinfo@gov.bc.ca