History of the Government House Gardens

The Government House gardens were originally designed in 1911 by G.K. Maclean, a landscape architect from Vancouver. Following the 1957 fire Robert Savery, a British-born and educated landscape architect, updated the design of the gardens in the style of traditional English gardens. The gardens flourished throughout the 1960s and 1970s when up to 17 gardeners worked on the property, including a superintendent who lived onsite and many of plants grown in an onsite greenhouse. In the 1980s, the number of staff gardeners fell to one.

In 1991, Lieutenant Governor David Lam initiated the Garden Volunteer Program to enhance the existing gardens, create new gardens, and improve the maintenance of the Government House grounds for public use and enjoyment. Dr. Lam’s plans included the involvement of volunteers, the Friends of the Government House Gardens Society, who would maintain the gardens, raise funds and ensure the continuation of interest and support of the grounds.

Future Lieutenant Governors added their own improvements to the gardens, including a wheelchair path under the Honourable Garde Gardom, the opening of the terrace gardens and public access path through the woodlands under the Honourable Iona Campagnolo and the construction of a band shell on the east lawn under the Honourable Steven Point. Under the Honourable Judith Guichon, the gardens and woodlands of Government House were designated a NatureCanada Naturehood site.

In 2012, under the direction of the Lieutenant Governor, the Government House Foundation commissioned Victoria-based sculptor Armando Barbon to create a bronze statue of Sir James Douglas, the “father of British Columbia”, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

On the lawn adjacent to the Douglas Statue stands Hosaqami, a 24-foot totem pole carved by Chief Tony Hunt. Also funded by the Government House Foundation, Hosaqami is a replica of a pole carved by Chief Mungo Martin.