Well when I retired some years ago I promised myself I would not sit at home and do nothing or watch TV all day. Well the part about watching TV all day was not difficult to do since I do not own a Television set and can’t watch it. So I started working as a volunteer at National Museums, when we moved to PEI I started to work at the Art Gallery of the Confederation Centre for the Arts.
This Summer I took some friends to visit the Official Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI. This is a Vice-Regal appointment and the holder of the Office is Commander in Chief of the Province and the personal representative of the Sovereign. So I made enquiries about getting a volunteer job at Government House.
In the British Imperial system, governors were appointed to run a territory in the name of the Sovereign and large mansions were built to house them. In Charlottetown in 1769 the first Governor was appointed to administer this new territory. The Island was then called Ile Saint-Jean or St-John Island it had been a French territory since 1604. The end of the Seven Year War in Europe between England, Prussia VS France, Austria, saw the large possessions in North America pass to England.
About 100 acres was set aside for the Residence of the Governor in 1789 by General Edmund Fanning, thus the name Fanningbank for the area but construction would not start before 1832.
In this case too they are looking for Volunteers, so I met with the staff of the Lieutenant Governor at Fanningbank and am now a docent.
Fanningbank or Government House in Charlottetown, Official Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI
One of the first task is to familiarize myself with the house, the various rooms, the period furniture and paintings. The house saw many important events in the history of the Island but also of Canada. There have been numerous world figures come through the place and many visits by members of the Royal Family and by the Sovereign.
The house is in a neo-classical style much in favour during the Georgian period with beautiful Doric and Ionic columns. I am doing much research now to prepare for visitors and understand the history and learn about the furniture, paintings, etc. Some of the original furniture comes from England and was made by the same manufacturer who supplies Royal Residences like Windsor Castle.
I undertook the project of re-writing the notes given to docents about 10 pages of information on the house and covering many topics.
So I keep busy with all my projects.