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Our Government House

I attented a gathering at Government House the other night - the guest of their Honours. The house was beautifully decorated for the Christmas season and any one there would agree it is one wonderful house to decorate. Over the years for one reason or another I have visited each of our Provincial Government Houses that remain. You might be surprized that not all provinces still have government houses and one at least has become a museum/convention centre. We are lucky and I, biased as I am, believe we have the best. {Nova Scotia is beginning to work on theirs and they certainly have a fine building to work on].

But we almost lost ours - it came seriously close. I was reading this week an article from a 1922 newspaper and here is the description of our dear historic building: "The old Government House, itself a standing memento of the good old times and manners, now past and gone forever,[!] might with very little expense, be converted into a receptacle, for the things that would go to make up an attractive museum."[At that point the House had been a hospital for returning veterans and later a School of Agriculture and Trades and had nearly become the site for the CNR Hotel. The Lieut-Governor was certainly not living there in 1922, having vacated the house in 1917 to provide for the "comfort" of returning veterans and it was not re-ocuppied officially again until 1933.]

Anyway on with the article " ...The present condition of Government House property cannot be said to reflect any credit upon the Lieut-Governor or the Government of the Province for the time being, or the citizens of Charlottetown or the people of the country at large. That it should be tenantless and neglected with the fences about it in a state of wreck and ruin, is from every point of view deplorable. Contrast the well kept lawns of private citizens on one side of Brighton Road with the uncultivated fields, the brushwood and fence wreckage on the other! Is it not evident that something must be done for the improvement of Government House property if the province and its people are to escape ineffable disgrace. The wonder is that the ladies of Charlottetown as well as the men, do not protest against the offensive unkempt apppearence of this fine old property and demand that the fields north of Government House from Government Pond westward shall form part of Victoria Park and be kept in decent and presentable condition for the benfit and credit of the province at large and for the enjoyment of summer visitors.

Well the ladies of Charlottetown - and the men, obviously spoke and the pride that Islanders felt on Friday night would be of great comfort to them who stood their ground, if only they could hear.

Written Sunday, December 03, 2000 at 10:13 PM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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