Government House, British Columbia

We woke up early in the morning and from Vancouver, Long and I drove southwards via Highway 99. It was still sunrise so there weren’t really a lot of vehicles. Our journey was smooth as we drove the highway trying to calculate kilometers to miles, we finally exit to Highway 17 which was more isolated than the other highway. Passing Tsawwassen we finally stopped when we saw the ferry entrance where vehicles were all lined up.

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On to the ferry

That was a long wait and we wait for more than an hour before the vehicles started moving. We rode the BC Ferries and paid $57.60 Canadian dollars. There are other options, there are per passenger or per vehicle. We didn’t rode a bus or we don’t want to leave our car so paid the per vehicle price.

Being our first time in our lives to use a ferry with a vehicle we follow the trail and it wasn’t that difficult. We stopped when the vehicle in front of us stops and put theirs in parking, shut the engines off and went out. We did the same and we follow the crowd taking the stairs which we climb like 2 to 3 stories. We have followed until after the 3 stories for the area seem different. We went in and discovered it was the waiting area where most of the people were. There were seats like in a regular bus or plane. An open lounge with cafeteria and there was the buffet inside one of the grand room. We were supposed to eat at the buffet but the line was very long. There were people who were visiting to the island.

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Cool Morning Breeze

A group of youth with their families and coaches going to a soccer game because they were all wearing it. We went out and saw the beautiful places we were passing by. The water was green and calm, pine trees on each side of the coasts and multiple small islands. We were crossing down the United States border and back to Canada. The sun disappears and reappears once in a while the wind was kind of chilly. Long and I walk around the railings and climb up to another floor where it was only a viewing deck. We took several pictures and then it started sprinkling. So I asked Long if he wanted to go down and inside but he said he’ll stay upstairs.

I went down find a seat and sleep for a while and when I got hungry a bought a sandwich and drink from the cafe. The trip approximately took us 2 hours and after a quick nap I started looking for Long. We didn’t’ have a hard time seeing each other. We sit and waited until we heard the announcement to go back to our vehicles. We went down the parking and waited.

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The views

We felt the ferry docking and opening the bridge and we drove down at Swartz Bay and saw the waiting vehicles on the opposite side. Once were back on Highway 17 the cars went as fast as they could. It was like we were on a race. Long put our destination, “Government House”

It didn’t took us that long before we reached the outskirts of Victoria, and we turned left to Caledonia Avenue and right to Cook Street which is a residential area. The houses were beautiful and big in this area. Each one has its unique architecture and we turned left at Rock Avenue and driving straight we found the grand house on our right. The iron fence and gates were outstanding. The two columns on the gate were beautiful and we drove inside and park at the parking in front of the house.

Sir James Douglas

We first approached the statue at the garden of James Douglas, KCB. At first we didn’t know who he was so here is a little summary of the man.  In 2012, under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor, the Government House Foundation commissioned Victoria-based sculptor Armando Barbon to create the bronze statue, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

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Sir James Douglas bronze Statue

“Sir James Douglas KCB (August 15, 1803 – August 2, 1877), influential in the history of Canada first a fur trader and later a colonial governor, is often credited as “The Father of British Columbia”. He started work at 16 for the North West Company and then the Hudson’s Bay Company, becoming a high-ranking officer. From 1851 to 1864, he was Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1858, he also became the first Governor of the Colony of British Columbia, in order to assert the authority of the British Empire during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, which had the potential to turn the B.C. Mainland into an American state. He remained governor of both colonies until his retirement in 1864.”


Right beside the statue is another monument and here is the history behind it.

“In 1959, the Royal Canadian Navy commissioned artist Chief Mungo Martin to carve a totem pole as a gift to the Royal Navy. Chief Martin was assisted by then-17-year-old Tony Hunt and Tony’s father, Henry Hunt, who together carved the pole at Thunderbird Park in Victoria. The 25-foot pole was on display at HMS Excellent on Whale Island near Portsmouth, UK until it was severely damaged during a storm in the late 1980s and sent back to Canada for restoration. It sat outside the Chief and Petty Officers’ Mess at CFB Esquimalt for years until Chief Hunt decided that it was too damaged to be restored and should be allowed to return to the earth. That pole now lies behind Government House where it will be allowed to naturally decompose.

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Hosaqami Totem Pole

In celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, the Honourable Steven Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and the Government House Foundation commissioned Chief Tony Hunt to carve a replica of the original totem pole. With the assistance of his son, Tony Hunt Junior, Chief Hunt carved the replica behind Government House over a period of two and a half months. On September 8, 2012, in the presence of the Honourable Steven Point, First Nations Elders and Chiefs, Maritime Forces Pacific Commander RAdm Bill Truelove, veterans, and dignitaries, the new Hosaqami was raised in front of Government House in a traditional pole-raising ceremony.

The word Hosaqami means “he who owns this pole is a man of integrity in his society” in the Kwakiutl language.”

We walked down the trail to the gardens and there were plenty of monuments dedicated to different events in British Columbia and I will post some of the things we saw there.

Sir Anthony Musgrave (1828-1888)

“A career Imperial civil servant, Anthony Musgrave served as governor of Newfoundland (1864-69) and British Columbia (1869-71). Both terms of office were marked by a strong personal effort to encourage the two colonies to unite with the new Canadian confederation, and it was under his direction that British Columbia entered the Dominion on July 20, 1871. Musgrave, who was knighted in 1875, subsequently held vice-regal office in Natal, South Australia, Jamaica, and Queensland where he died.”

Order of Canada

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Order of Canada

“In commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the Order of Canada and the 125th Anniversary of Canada as a nation. This plaque has been erected by the recipients of the order resident in the province of British Columbia. The order recognizes accomplishments that have influenced the economic, cultural, scientific, and community life of the nation and are representative of the characteristics and qualities that define a Canadian.

Unveiled October 27th, 1992 by his excellency the Right Honorable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, O.C., C. C., C.M.M., C,D. Q. C, Governor General of Canada and Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, in the presence of the Honourable David C. Lam, C.M, M.B.A. L. L. D, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.”

The Gardens

We followed the trail to the Bruce Pavilion where there is a marker showing the Distinguished visitors who came to the Government House. Then, it started showering and me not having a hood run to one of the trees and waited for the shower to stop. Here is the history of the gardens.

“The Government House gardens were originally designed in 1911 by G.K. Maclean, a landscape architect from Vancouver. Following the 1957 fire Robert Savery, a British-born and educated landscape architect, updated the design of the gardens in the style of traditional English gardens. The gardens flourished throughout the 1960s and 1970s when up to 17 gardeners worked on the property, including a superintendent who lived onsite. The grounds were always well-maintained and many of the plants were grown in an onsite greenhouse. In the 1980s came a government austerity program and the number of staff gardeners fell to one. Even with regular maintenance by contractors, the gardens deteriorated.

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Giant Tree

In 1991, Lieutenant Governor David Lam (1988–1995) initiated the Garden Volunteer Program to enhance the existing gardens, create new gardens, and improve the maintenance of the Government House grounds for public use and enjoyment. Dr. Lam’s plans included the involvement of volunteers, the Friends of the Government House Gardens Society, who would maintain the gardens, raise funds and ensure the continuation of interest and support of the grounds. Subsequent Lieutenant Governors have all supported the work of the Friends and have each left enduring legacies of their time in office.

The Honourable Garde Gardom (1995-2001) encouraged increased access to the grounds with the Wheelchair Pathway Project. Mr. Gardom directed the Government House Foundation to raise funds to make the grounds more accessible by building new pathways, upgrading existing paths and building wheelchair accessible washrooms.

The Honourable Iona Campagnolo (2001-2007) was instrumental in a number of significant projects including opening the Terrace Gardens to the public; overseeing the placement of an explanatory lookout point southwest of Government House; opening a public access path through the Woodlands; and creating the Caledonia Cascade, a small waterfall and pond located on the east cliff of the Terraces.

The Honourable Steven Point (2007-2012) created a number of legacy projects on the Government House grounds. The Bandshell, located on the east lawn, is used for summer concerts and is adorned with a carving titled The Salmon People. The carving, by Steven Point and Chief Tony Hunt, depicts the story of the Salmon People’s journey up the Fraser River.”

When it stopped we walked around the gardens to the huge tree. Then we tried going to the Victorian Rose Garden but unfortunately it was closed so we head back to the main house. The area of the Government House is large and there were plenty of garden trails to follow. But the continuous sprinkling of rain we run to the Government House. Then came another disappointment. It was close and made me sad. Here are the hours of tour.

“Public tours are scheduled one Saturday a month, starting promptly at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Tours are one hour in length. Admission is free and no booking is required. Please note that we have a maximum capacity of 100 people per tour so spaces will be allotted on a first come first serve basis.”

Even though we didn’t have the chance to tour the house, here is the history of the Government House which was rebuilt 3 time.

“Located on the traditional territory of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations, Government House is the office and official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians.

Interior of the House

The Lieutenant Governor also offers accommodation to distinguished visitors including members of the Royal Family, international royalty, heads of state and other honoured guests of British Columbia. Since 1865, there have been three Government Houses on this site. The first official residence, known as Cary Castle, was built in 1859. Six years later it was purchased as the residence of the Governor of Vancouver Island.

Cary Castle

When British Columbia entered Confederation in 1871 Cary Castle became Government House, the official office and residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of British Columbia. In May 1899, Cary Castle was destroyed by fire.

Renowned architects Francis Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure were hired to design a new house on the same site. The Rattenbury/Maclure-designed Government House officially opened in 1903. In 1909, a stone porte cochère was added at the request of Lieutenant Governor James Dunsmuir. The House served British Columbia for 54 years until April 15, 1957, when it succumbed to fire. The only thing left standing was the porte cochère. Construction on the new Government House began in December 1957 and closely matched the design of the previous building. The current Government House officially opened on May 19, 1959.

Second Castle

The Conservatory was added in the 1960s as a gift from Lieutenant Governor George Pearkes and the family of Lieutenant Governor Walter Owens installed the swimming pool in 1978. With the support of the Government House Foundation, successive Lieutenant Governors have left enduring legacies of their time in office. These legacy projects reflect the initiatives and priority programs of each Lieutenant Governor.”

We ended our first stop on the island in disappointment because we saw little of the interior of the house but still I was happy I got the chance to visit the Government House. Home of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Then we went to our next destination, the castle.

Here are the links for more information:


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Say Cheez!

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