Governors' Cottage National Historic Site of Canada
Château des gouverneurs
Maison des Gouverneurs
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Governors’ Cottage National Historic Site of Canada is located on the banks of the Richelieu River in Sorel, Quebec. Originally occupied as a summer residence by the early British governors and military commanders of Quebec, the one-and-a-half-storey house has a traditional Quebec-style rectangular core flanked by wings, all under steep, front-sloping gable roofs. To the rear, an open verandah looks out over gardens that were once part of a larger seigneury. Official recognition refers to the house and its property.
The Governors’ Cottage was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1957 because:
- General Haldimand built this house so that the commander in chief might reside in it during time of war;
- this house was then used as a summer residence by Governors and by commanders-in-chief.
The Governor Sir Frederick Haldimand acquired the seigneury of Sorel for the Crown in 1781 for defensive reasons, as a result of the American invasion of 1775, and as an area where soldiers, Loyalists and their families could be settled. The same year, he had a house built for General Riedesel, the core of the present cottage, to which wings were added at a later date. In 1787, Prince William Henry, later King William IV of the United Kingdom (r. 1830-1837), spent time in the house during a visit to the colony. Until 1860, it was used as a summer residence by Governors General Dorchester, Prescott, Dalhousie, and Aylmer, and by Commanders-in-Chief St. Leger, Brock, Colborne, Jackson, D’Urban and Eyre. After a succession of owners, the town of Sorel acquired the house in 1921. In April 1990 the Governor’s Cottage Exhibition Centre was inaugurated as a centre for artists.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1957.
Key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- its central location and park-like setting on the Richelieu River in the town of Sorel, Quebec;
- the simple Quebec vernacular design, with its rectangular, one-and-a-half storey original core, flanked by wings under steep, front-sloping gable roofs with end chimneys;
- the regular placement of openings with multi-pane, sash windows, dormer windows, the central entry with a formal, pillared, classically inspired porch protecting the main entrance, the verandah with columns and the small, second-floor balcony;
- surviving original materials and finishes, both exterior and interior, that reflect the period of its use as a residence for the commander-in-chief of the military and as a summer residence for the governors of Quebec, and any remaining evidence of the original domestic functional plan;
- the remains of the original grounds as a surrounding garden.
Government of Canada
Historic Sites and Monuments Act
National Historic Site of Canada
1781/01/01 to 1860/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec
Cross-Reference to Collection