Government House was the former residence of the Lieutenant (LEF-tenant) Governor, the British monarch’s direct representative. Each province has a Lieutenant Governor. The current Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor no longer resides in Government House, but retains an office there. I was surprised at the lack of security apparatus. Some uniformed officers were present, but I saw no firearms. We didn’t have to go through any metal detectors or run our belongings through a scanner. I was grateful not to remove all my gear. This is a great contrast to US governmental facilities.
When tourists enter, their first sight is this life-size portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, whom Canadians recognize as their monarch. She seems about ready to step out of the painting. I almost bowed reflexively until I remembered two things: 1) it’s only a portrait; and 2) Americans don’t bow to royalty.
Government House has been restored to the period when Lt. Gov. Amédée Forget (FOR-zhay) and his wife Henriette lived in the mansion.
The first two rooms visitors see are the ballroom and conservatory. Conservatory was originally much larger. At the time of its construction, Government House was a kilometer outside Regina (Re-JINA), with its only neighbors the local Mountie regiment. Government House grew much of its own food and traded with the Mounties for meat. When ballroom was added, conservatory was downsized.
Salesman chairs were placed in the ceremonial entrance. Turning salesmen away was considered to be rude. The butler would summon the man of the house to see the salesman. In order to get rid of them, they were asked to sit in these chairs. Back legs were longer than front ones so the chairs tilted uncomfortably. When salesman would try to adjust himself on the seat, the crack would pinch him. If he leaned against the back, a projection would stab him. Now, which is more rude? Telling him no at the door or wasting his time while making him very uncomfortable?
The master bedroom had very ornate furniture, which came as no surprise since the Victorians loved ornateness. The bed had high head and foot boards because Victorians believed that air on head and feet was dangerous to one’s health.
The children’s and governess’ rooms were definitely less elaborate. They were low down on the totem pole, even though the governess was highest ranking servant. Children were definitely expected to be seen and not heard. If they wanted to see their father, children had to make an appointment.
This chess set was in the bedroom reserved for the highest-ranking guest. Another bedroom was reserved for lesser-ranking guests. Even the wallpaper showed how important — or not– a person was. I thought, “What petty snobbery!”
We had come at day’s end so staff hustled us out rather quicker than I wanted to leave. We stopped briefly in the garden. I hope my bleeding heart bush will look this beautiful someday.
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