One of Victoria’s ‘hidden gems’ …
Government House is the seat of the Lieutenant Governer of British Columbia, The Honorable Judith Guichon, OBC.
Government House is located in the heart of the Rockland neighbourhood in Victoria. With occasional exceptions, the grounds are open daily to the public from sunrise to sunset, free of charge.
As the House itself is both a working office and private residence, it is only open to the public at certain times. Guided public tours are offered one Saturday a month. Tours of Government House are also available to school groups and non-profit groups by advanced booking.
The gardens, statues and artwork are all attended by volunteers – Friends of the Government HouseGardens Society, who would maintain the gardens, raise funds and ensure the continuation of interest and support of the grounds.
The grounds around Government House are some of the most beautiful gardens in Victoria! There are numerous paths to stroll and enjoy the views to the Olympic Peninsula. Be sure to check out the rose garden – just heavenly!
The Cary Mews at Government House
Open Tues – Sat 10 – 4
The Cary Castle Mews is a cluster of 19th century wooden service buildings located on the southeast side of the Government House estate. The Mews consists of stables, a carriage house, a gaol, a root cellar, a wash house and a poultry house (part of which was later used as a gardener’s cottage). These onsite buildings have been used as support buildings to Government House since their construction in the 1870s. Thanks to the efforts of the Government House Foundation, some of the buildings have been rehabilitated and are now outfitted for the public to enjoy.
The Tea House and Gift Shop is located in Butterworth Cottage and offers a chance for visitors to enjoy lunch, tea, pastries and other refreshments. Butterworth Cottage was originally built as a poultry barn and in the 1920s was partially adapted as a residence for the head gardener. In 2008, the Cottage underwent further rehabilitation in order to house the Tea House and Interpretive Centre. The Tea Room has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Featuring daily soups, paninis, quiche and other delectables by the Executive Chef at Government House it is the perfect place for lunch, afternoon tea or refreshment during a walk around the Mews and gardens.
The Interpretive Centre is also located within Butterworth Cottage, adjacent to the Tea House in what was originally the poultry barn. Inside the renovated space, visitors will find information about the history of the Estate of the Lieutenant Governor, a designated National Historic Site. Displays include stories and photos of the people who lived and worked in Government House and on the estate, as well as the history of the role of the Lieutenant Governor in British Columbia.
The newly expanded Costume Museum is located in the Carriage House and showcases a large variety of period pieces. From former Lieutenant Governors’ uniforms and Chatelaines’ dresses to an original butler’s uniform, the Museum takes visitors on a sartorial journey through the history of the Estate and Office of the Lieutenant Governor. These historical artifacts are from both the Government House collection and thanks to the generosity of several donors. Visitors to the Costume Museum will also see the historic Landau Carriage on display. In 1901, the Landau was used by the Duke and Duchess of York and Cornwall (later King George V and Queen Mary) on their tour of Victoria and Esquimalt.
The Cary Castle Mews is also home to the Lawrence J. Patten Heraldry Exhibit. This display was created by the British Columbia branch of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada, whose mission is to promote heraldry, particularly Canadian heraldry, and to encourage an interest in the subject among Canadians. Visitors have the opportunity to learn about the history, design, colour and language of heraldry and view examples of heraldic shields.
Government House is located at 1401 Rockland Avenue in Victoria, British Columbia. It is a 20-minute walk or a five-minute drive from downtown. Free parking is available onsite. Buses on Victoria Regional Transit routes 11 and 14 stop on Fort Street at Joan Crescent, three blocks from Government House.