For a while now our Lieutenant Governors have been doing a good job of opening Government House to all Nova Scotians. This afternoon was an excellent example, the annual Garden Party. It has been happening for over 100 years, but until the last decade or so it was an invitation-only event. Now the LG and his wife “are delighted to invite all Nova Scotians and visitors.” So for the first time we went.
We arrived in time to hear town criers announcing and a few words from the LG to acknowledge the 50th birthday of our flag, and then we mingled.
The Gov House website is very smart, answering all the questions you might have about what to wear, how to get your picture taken with the LG (ask the aide de camp), whether you need to say good bye (just leave).
There was music and snacks and tea poured from silver into china. Girl guides and boy scouts and cadets assisted, but only ladies could pour the tea.
The event was festive and I doubt there was much business being transacted.
It felt like a Nova Scotian tradition that had found new life and was bringing diverse communities together in pleasant surroundings. It was lovely eating cakes, and admiring the rhododendrons in the backyard of Gov House.
- I’m fond of a couple of garden party photos on the NS Archives site. The first is of a garden party at Admiralty House on Gottingen Street, I guess around 1890. This would definitely be an invitation-only event.
- The other is from one of the big houses in Yarmouth c1910. In Yarmouth they were very fond of clipped hedges and this event must have been in early spring because hedges are all there is.
- In the mid 70s a group of, mostly younger, people renovated the row of 12 houses on the north side of Smith Street. There was an open, shared common space in the back and in 1976 the residents had a garden party. Architect Andy Lynch drew the invitation with the message “Disappointed because you weren’t invited to the Lieutenant Governor’s Garden Party this year?” The party was a great success and continued for a few years. By the 3rd year the Lieutenant Governor attended the Smith Street party!