Government House

Government House is the former official residence of the lieutenant governors of Alberta, currently retained for ceremonial events and entertaining.

The property for the house was purchased by the Province of Alberta in 1910, as well as the surrounding area. Construction on the building, intended from the outset to house the Lieutenant Governor, began in 1912, and the official opening was held on October 7, 1913. The three storey building is constructed of sandstone in the Jacobean Revival style. It was used as a royal residence between its completion in 1913 and 1937; the Legislature cited economic concerns, as well as the closing of the Ontario Government House the year previous, as reasons for the closure. However, the closure also came soon after Lieutenant Governor John C. Bowen refused to grant Royal Assent to three controversial bills passed through the Legislative Assembly, and was, along with the removal of his support staff and official car, seen as an act of retaliation by Premier William Aberhart. The building was sold, and the furniture and fixtures were sold.

The building was used a boarding house for American pilots flying supplies up to the Alaska Highway and then was acquired by the federal government as military hospital during the Second World War. After the war the building was used as convalescent home for veterans. The house and grounds were returned to the provincial Crown in 1964. The grounds became the site for the Provincial Museum of Alberta. The building itself was extensively restored and reopened as conference center for the Alberta government. It has since hosted many important functions including visits by Queen Elizabeth and Pope John-Paul II.

Members of the Canadian Royal Family and visiting foreign dignitaries are greeted at the ceremonial porte-cochere. Inside are reception rooms, conference rooms and support facilities; it is here that the Lieutenant Governor presides over swearing-in ceremonies for Cabinet ministers. Every Thursday while the legislature is in session, the caucus of the governing party meets in the Alberta Room, a 100-seat conference room on the top floor.

While not in use, members of the public can take tours of the building at no cost. On display are artifacts and original pieces of furniture from the building's time as a residence, and information is also provided about the building's restoration and current functions.

Until 2005, unlike other provinces, Alberta has separate buildings for the official residence, office, and entertaining venue for the viceroy. The lieutenant governor lived in a Crown owned house in the Glenora district of Edmonton, while holding an office at the Legislative Assembly building, where Royal Assent is granted, and where the Lieutenant Governor received the Premier. The house in Glenora was demolished in 2005, and as of 2008 there is no official residence for the lieutenant governor.

Whenever the sovereign is in the provincial capital, he or she resides at a hotel, normally the Hotel Macdonald. This situation is similar to that of London, where the monarch maintains St. James Palace as an official court for diplomatic and ceremonial functions, but resides elsewhere.

In 2011, the Government of Alberta stated a new Government House would be constructed after 2015.


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