Alberta's Government House is located in Edmonton and was
the official residence of the
Province's first six Lieutenant-Governors.
It is now used for high-level government conferences, receptions, and dinners. In 1910, the Province of Alberta purchased the property
where Government House now stands, as well as the immediate surrounding area,
from Montreal businessman James Carruthers for $33,571. Construction on
the building began in 1912, and it was officially opened on October 7,
1913. The three storey sandstone edifice was designed in the Jacobean
Revival style which is characterized by bay windows, high gabled roofs with
raised ends, and groups of rectangular windows. The architect was R.P.
Blakey and the building cost $345,882.
In early 1925, the Legislative Assembly passed a motion to
sell Government House following the completion of the term of Lieutenant-Governor Dr. Robert G. Brett. The mover of this motion stated
that although there was no intention to abolish the Office of
Lieutenant-Governor, he felt that the maintenance of a "Royal Court"
in a democratic province such as Alberta was neither appropriate nor
economical. Another member noted that New Brunswick had closed its
Government House a few years earlier. This motion was rescinded later the
In 1938, the Committee of Supply of the Legislative
Assembly of Alberta passed a motion that had the final effect of closing
Government House. Once again, economy was given as the reason. Some
Members felt that since the Canadian federal government appointed Alberta's
Lieutenant-Governors, they should pay the related expenses. It was also
noted that Ontario had closed its Government House in 1937. However, other
Members felt this action was taken by the Alberta government to "get
even" with the Lieutenant-Governor John C.
Bowen. In 1937, he had
refused to give Royal Assent to three government bills. At any rate,
Government House was closed in 1938, and Alberta's Lieutenant-Governors had to
seek accommodation elsewhere. In 1966, the provincial government acquired
a new official residence for the Lieutenant-Governor at 58 St. George's
From 1938 to 1942, Government House remained vacant.
In 1942, during World War II, it was leased to North West Airlines which had
contracts for the delivery of aircraft to the United States government to
support the construction of the Alaska Highway. From 1944 to 1950, it was
used as a convalescent home for wounded veterans. Government House was
purchased by the federal government's Department of Veterans' Affairs in 1951
and was operated as a home for disabled veterans. It was during the 1950s
that the conservatory, which was once part of Government House, was demolished.
In 1964, Government House was returned to the Province of
Alberta and in the late 1960s, the main floor was restored. However, there
were still many problems related to the maintenance of the building, and in
1971, shortly after the visit of Russian Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin, the main
floor ceiling collapsed.
During the middle 1970s, more extensive renovations
costing $1,700,000 were completed in order to make Government House serviceable
as a centre for high level government conferences, dinners, and
receptions. The general public were first able to visit the restored
building on Heritage Day, August 1, 1976.
Alberta's Government House presently consists of a large
combination reception and dining area on the main floor, as well as a music room
and a library. The main floor was restored to resemble that of the
original building as closely as possible. The second floor consists of a
central reception area surrounded by six small conference rooms, each
named after one of the six Lieutenant-Governors who lived in Government House,
and a small study. The third floor consists of a large conference facility
named the Alberta Room.
On June 12, 1985, The Honourable Mary J. LeMessurier,
Minister of Culture, announced that Alberta's Government House had been
designated a Provincial Historic Resource. As such, it cannot be altered
without the permission of the Minister of Culture.