Lieutenant Governor's Residence
Links and documents
1912/01/01 to 1913/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Government House is a three-storey sandstone mansion from the Edwardian era, located on one city block on 102nd Avenue overlooking the North Saskatchewan River and situated directly south of the Provincial Museum. The designation applies to the footprint of the building and the adjacent formal gardens.
The heritage value of Government House lies in its role as the official residence for the Lieutenant Governors of Alberta between 1913 and 1938. It is also significant as an excellent and impressive example of period architecture.
This building was the official residence of the Province's first six Lieutenant Governors: George H.V. Bulyea, Robert G. Brett, William Egbert, William L. Walsh, Philip C.H. Primrose, and John C. Bowen. Here they hosted state receptions, visiting royalty and other dignitaries. In 1938, however, after more than a decade of complaints in the Legislative Assembly about the "economy" of maintaining a Lieutenant Governor's residence (and resentment toward the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, John C. Bowen, who had refused to give Royal Assent to three government bills), it was closed and converted to other uses such as office space for North West Airlines during World War Two, and later, a convalescent home for wounded and disabled veterans. In 1964, in anticipation of Canada’s Centennial (which also saw the opening of the new Provincial Museum that was constructed on the property) the province reacquired and refurbished Government House as a site for state and community events.
The building is also significant for its architectural craftsmanship and construction. It was the most costly, most luxurious residence built in Edmonton to that point, and its eclectic design incorporated at least three architectural trends that were popular at the time of its construction. The exterior follows the Beaux Arts movement in borrowing from historic precedents, in this case features of the Jacobean Revival style such as prominent projections, parapet gable walls and wall dormers, bay windows, battlements and oculus openings. The exterior porches and more delicate interior details speak to the Edwardian Classical Revival style, and an Arts and Crafts influence is evident in the simplified fireplace surrounds, wainscoting, and built-in furnishings and mouldings.
Like the Provincial Legislature, the imposing size and ornamental detail of Government House was designed to reflect Alberta’s new provincial status. The architect was R.P. Blakey, who as the principal architect for Alberta Public Works from 1912- 1923 was responsible for many prominent public buildings.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File Des. 290)
The character-defining elements of Government House include:
- form, scale and massing;
- sandstone construction: random coursed rock faced bond, smooth ashlar trim and quoins;
- two-storey bow windows, four occuli at attic level, and restored double hung windows with wooden sashes;
- parapetted gable ends, steep gable roof, and the rectangular windows in groups;
- verandah, coupled columns, (Roman Doric Order) balustrade and porte cochere;
- original layout of main floor;
- concrete vault;
- fireplace in basement;
- authentic interior architectural features in first floor vestibule, lobby, music room, library and stiar hall, and second floor office, including wainscoting, doors, trim, fireplace features and built-in cabinets;
- adjacent gardens and landscaping, and viewscape of river valley.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
1913/01/01 to 1938/01/01
1964/01/01 to 1964/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Office or office building
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 290)
Cross-Reference to Collection