Heraldry

Heraldry started in 12th-century Europe when knights painted their shields with emblems to symbolize their unique identity and interests when in full armour. Gradually, monarchs took control of the official granting and use of coats of arms, which allowed them to honour people and groups. Coats of arms thus developed as grants of honour received from a sovereign exercising his or her personal prerogative.

In Canada, the Canadian Heraldic Authority is responsible for the granting of coats of arms and other armorial bearings. Several former Lieutenant Governors have their own coats of arms including the Honourable Steven Point, the Honourable Iona Campagnolo and the Honourable Garde Gardom. In Government House, the heraldic shields are displayed under the respective portrait of the Lieutenant Governor to whom they belong.

Government House also displays the heraldic shields of members of the Royal Family or Governors General who have stayed at the House. Each coat of arms is created for the date of the honouree's first overnight visit to Government House. The shields are displayed in the House thereafter, honouring the visitor after their departure.

The shields line the wall beneath the Rogers Window and along the walls of the main staircase. The Rogers Window depicts the heraldry of British Columbia as well as the previous Lieutenant Governors of British Columbia. Together, the refurbished coats of arms and the Rogers Window honour the heraldic traditions and the regal history of British Columbia.

In 2013, His Royal Highness The Duke of York unveiled the Canada and British Columbia Heraldic Windows in the entrance way of Government House to honour the role of the Canadian Crown. One window contains Her Majesty's Royal Cypher, the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada, and the crest of the Royal Arms of Canada, the latter as an indication of the role of the Governor General. The other window contains an emblem from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal, the shield of the arms of British Columbia, and the emblem of Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The windows were designed by stained glass artists Mr. Ed Schaeffer and Mr. Tom Mercer.

A heraldry exhibit is open to the public in the Cary Castle Mews Interpretive Centre. 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. A preview of the exhibit is available here.

Royal Visitors to Government House

Coat of Arms Visitor First Visit
Coat of Arms - Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York 1901
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness Edward, Prince of Wales His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales 1919
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester 1929
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness Prince George His Royal Highness Prince George 1929
Coat of Arms - His Majesty King George VI His Majesty King George VI 1939
Coat of Arms - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 1939
Coat of Arms - Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth 1951
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh 1951
Coat of Arms - Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal 1955
Coat of Arms - Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret 1958
Coat of Arms - Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra 1959
Coat of Arms - Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 1959
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew 1977
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales 1986
Coat of Arms - Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales 1986
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness The Prince Edward His Royal Highness The Prince Edward 1994
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent 2002
Coat of Arms - Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex 2006

Vice-Regal Visitors to Government House

Coat of Arms Visitor First Visit
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable The Earl of Dufferin The Earl of Dufferin 1876
Coat of Arms - The Most Honourable The Marquess of Lorne The Marquess of Lorne 1882
Coat of Arms - The Most Honourable The Marquess of Lansdowne The Marquess of Lansdowne 1885
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Lord Stanley of Preston Lord Stanley 1889
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable The Earl of Aberdeen The Earl of Aberdeen 1894
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable The Earl of Minto The Earl of Minto 1900
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Earl Gray Earl Gray 1906
Coat of Arms - His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn 1912
Coat of Arms - The Duke of Devonshire The Duke of Devonshire 1920
Coat of Arms - Lord Byng Lord Byng 1922
Coat of Arms - The Viscount of Willingdon The Viscount of Willingdon 1927
Coat of Arms - The Earl of Bessborough The Earl of Bessborough 1932
Coat of Arms - Lord Tweedsmuir Lord Tweedsmuir 1936
Coat of Arms - The Earl of Athlone The Earl of Athlone 1941
Coat of Arms - The Viscount Alexander The Viscount Alexander 1946
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Vincent Massey The Right Honourable Vincent Massey 1958
Coat of Arms - Major-General The Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier Major-General The Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier 1960
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Roland Michener The Right Honourable Roland Michener 1968
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Jules Leger The Right Honourable Jules Léger 1970
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Edward R Schreyer The Right Honourable Edward R Schreyer 1979
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauve The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé 1984
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn The Right Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn 1992
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Romeo LeBlanc The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc 1997
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson 2000
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean 2006
Coat of Arms - The Right Honourable David Johnston The Right Honourable David Johnston 2011