Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Fanningbank, or Government House is a large, wood framed, Georgian influenced residence for Prince Edward Island's Lieutenant Governors. Set on a large treed lot, it has a spectacular view of the Charlottetown Harbour. The home is not only protected municipally but has also been recognized by the National Sites and Monuments Board and the Province of Prince Edward Island. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of Government House lies in its role as the viceregal residence for Prince Edward Island and its fine Georgian influenced architecture.
In 1789, Governor Edmund Fanning set aside approximately 100 acres land for a Lieutenant Governor's residence. The parcel known as Fanning Bank or Fanning's Bank included farmland for the Governor's use. In 1876, part of the land was transferred to the City of Charlottetown and is now known as Victoria Park. It would be some time before the colony could afford to build a residence on the site; therefore, up until 1834 Lieutenant Governors were forced to obtain their own accommodations. In 1770, when Governor Walter Patterson came to the Island, he was provided with a home on Water Street that had been built in 1768 when the City of Charlottetown was being laid out. Other Lieutenant Governors after him either bought or rented their homes except for Charles Douglas Smith who resided in the Barracks at Fort George.
Finally, in 1832, tenders were called for a viceregal residence to be built on Fanning Bank. Isaac Smith, who had built and designed Province House, and his partner Nathan Wright were paid five Pounds for the plans and their firm, which included Isaac Smith's brother Henry Smith, were given the contract to build the massive structure. They met their contractual obligation to have the home built by December 1834 and Lieutenant Governor Aretas Young moved in. Government House has been home to the Crown's representative continuously except for a short time after WWI when the home was used as a Veterans' Hospital.
Fanningbank as home to the Crown's representative is the centre of official hospitality in the Province where many distinguished visitors are entertained each year. The home has hosted the Queen and Prince Phillip who visited in 1959 and Edward, Prince of Wales who had come to the home many years earlier in 1860. Delegates to the Charlottetown Conference of 1864 were treated to a ball and supper at Government House and a photograph of the event still exists to this day. The residence is also used as a site to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of Islanders annually with the presentation of the Order of Prince Edward Island.
The outstanding building, located high on a sloping lot and surrounded by trees and formal gardens is an impressive sight. Government House is not only a landmark, but a source of pride for Charlottetown residents and Islanders alike.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Georgian influenced character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of Government House:
- The overall massing of the building
- The exterior cladding
- The hipped roof
- The style and symmetrical placement of the tall windows
- The style and placement of the doors, particularly the front door with its heavy door surround and fanlight above
- The impressive central portico and four colonnades that run along the first floor of the building
- The placement and size of the chimneys
- The long driveway approaching the building
- The treed lot with its formal gardens
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the home set above the Hillsborough River
Prince Edward Island
City of Charlottetown
City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
Cross-Reference to Collection
Government House was built in 1834 as the official residence for the Lieutenant Governors of Prince Edward Island. The white wooden shingled building has a commanding view of…