On a recent trip to Victoria I was able to spend some time meandering around the gardens at Government House. The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia uses the house as an official residence and office. It is also used for special dignitaries when they need a place to stay, as well as for special events. The Lieutenant Governor is the queen’s representative at the provincial level and is appointed by the Governor General of Canada.
The estate is situated on 36 acres with gardens filled with colourful displays of flowers, and woods that consist of Garry Oak trees…the only type of oak tree native to western Canada.
The Government House gardens are open 365 days of the year, unless it is being used by special guests for private stays or functions. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed here with Prince George and Princess Charlotte in 2016 and used the grounds to host a children’s party with military families in attendance.
The gardens are maintained by volunteers who make up the Friends of Government House Gardens Society. This group of men and women was formed in 1992 to not only take care of the garden areas, but to decide what flowers to plant and to raise money to purchase any plants needed.
At the back of the house you will find the Terrace Garden areas with vibrant coloured plants that thrive in the hot south-facing location.
This estate where the current Government House now sits has been used since 1865 as a place for the Governor (prior to Confederation in 1871) and the Lieutenant Governor (since Confederation) to stay in and to use as official office space. In 2002 it was declared a National Historic Site of Canada.
The land that Government House sits on is the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations. In 2012 a 24-foot totem pole made from a 500 year old red cedar was raised on the front lawn of the house. The pole called Hosaqami, which means “he who owns this pole is a man of authority in society” was a replica of a previous totem pole that stood here and now lies on the grounds, slowly decomposing into the earth from where it originally came.
If you do visit the gardens at Government House make sure and close any gates behind you…deer like to frequent the area and nibble on certain flowers.