Government House (Quebec)
Quebec's Government House, known as Spencerwood, was the Vice regal residence of Quebec. It was built in 1854. Located at the Bois-de-Coulonge park (upstream of the Plains of Abraham and overlooking Anse au Foulon), it was purchased by the Quebec Government in 1870 and served as the residence of Quebec Lieutenant-Governors until 1966 when a major fire destroyed the main residence.
Originally, the residence of the Governor of New France was at the Château St-Louis, in the capital of Quebec City. The monarch's representative continues to work and reside in that city, however, like Ontario, Quebec no longer has an official Government House, after Spencerwood burned down in 1966. Instead he or she holds an office and a suite of rooms for entertaining near the Parliament Building.
From 1867 to 1881 Lieutenant Governors of Quebec maintained a separate working office at the Maison Sewell, after which it was moved to the old parliament buildings. It remained there until 1979 when the office moved again to the André-Laurendeau building, where all the fittings and furniture were brought to from the former location. Inside are reception rooms, offices and support facilities. The royal suite is the site of swearing-in ceremonies for Cabinet ministers, where Royal Assent is granted, and where the Lieutenant Governor receives his or her premier. Whenever the sovereign and/or other members of the Royal Family are in the provincial capital, he or she resides at a hotel.
The history of this park goes back at the very start of the French regime in 1633. Louis D’Ailleboust, Esquire, of Coulonge and third Governor of New France who occupied it. This estate and several other properties of the Governor became one large estate (much larger than today’s park) in 1657 and was named Châtellenie. It is after his death that the estate was sold to the sisters of the Augustine order the Hôtel-Dieu and in 1676 the Quebec Seminary acquired the property.
After the English conquest, the seminary, not having enough funds, sold one of the lots in 1780 to an English officer, Henry Watson Powell, who named this area Powell Place. To create comfortable living quarters, he had a villa, greenhouses and trails built. The park would again change its name around 1811 when Michael Henry Perceval became owner and called it Spencerwood. However, the beauty that we admire today is owed in part to Henry Atkinson, who bought this land in 1833. With his gardener, he created an English style garden with elms, oaks and trails. Without an owner in 1854, the estate was divided into several sections and the most imposing lot was bought by the government of United Canada to house the Governor General.
Six years later, a fire completely destroyed the Governor-General’s residence. The house was rebuilt in 1862 with a castle like length of 56 meters, a servant’s wing and a winter garden. In 1870, Spencer Wood was sold to the province of Quebec and was then home to the Lieutenant-Governor. A few modifications were made throughout the years, namely the fountain that we see today. The Spencer Wood estate was renamed Bois de Coulonge in 1950. In total, 21 Lieutenant Governors succeeded each other at this estate and the last one, Paul Comtois, died in the fire which destroyed the house in 1966, while trying to save the Blessed Sacrament from the private chapel. It was in 1986, after the estate was abandoned, that restoration was undertaken. Finally, the National Capital Commission of Québec became its owner in 1996.
- Government Houses of Canada
- Government Houses of the British Empire and Commonwealth
- Lieutenant Governor of Quebec