This Week in History


Victoria’s Mosaic of Landscapes!

For the week of Monday May 17, 2004

On May 19, 1959, the current residence of the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia located on a property in Victoria’s prestigious Rockland neighbourhood, officially opened its doors. This extensive property, which has accomodated the province’s governors and lieutenant-governors since 1865, has quite a turbulent past.

Herb and medicinal plant garden
© Parks Canada

A simple private home first stood at this location in 1852, but it was destroyed by fire a few months later. It was rebuilt in 1860 for George Hunter Cary, Attorney General of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. In 1865, the colonial government bought the house, named Cary Castle, as the official residence of the Governor of Vancouver Island. It then became the official residence of the province’s Lieutenant-Governor when British Columbia joined Confederation in 1871. Unfortunately, Cary Castle was razed by fire in 1899, as was its replacement in 1957. Finally, a large fireproof house was built in 1959.

A few old buildings stand away from the residence and are a reminder of some of the past agricultural activities that took place on the property. The buildings include a stable with a shed for horse­‑drawn carriages, a coal shed, root cellar, henhouse, wash house and gardener’s cottage.

Rare Garry oak forest
© Parks Canada

This property is famous for its beautiful gardens, some of which were planted by past lieutenant-governors. A walk through the grounds is a scenic one that includes an English garden, rose garden, herb and medicinal plant garden, various rock gardens and an alpine flower garden. A Garry oak forest behind the official residence on an extensive plot of sloped land is another important part of this property. This ecosystem is one of the rarest and most threatened in British Columbia.

As the official residence of the province’s governors and lieutenant‑governors since 1865, and, because of its picturesque gardens and rare Garry oak ecosystem, the Estate of the Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia was designated a national historic site in 2002. Three of its residents have also been designated as persons of national historic significance, Governor Sir Anthony Musgrave and Lieutenant-Governors Sir Joseph William Trutch and Edgar Dewdney.

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