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About The Commissariat

Built by British Military Engineers in 1818-1820, The Commissariat is the last original, intact structure that was part of an extensive British military complex in St. John's - a complex that originally included Fort Townshend (where The Rooms provincial art gallery, museum and archives is located today), Fort William (today a hotel), Signal Hill, Fort Amherst, and gun batteries up and down the coast.

Before the 1820s, Newfoundland was governed by the British navy - and the grandeur of The Commissariat says a lot about the power of the military here. This was the finest house in St. John's until Governor Cochrane's mansion, completed in 1831, was built next door. The Commissariat is still one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in the province.

Ironically, The Commissariat was built both at the end of British naval rule in Newfoundland, and at the end of almost two centuries of conflict between Great Britain and France - during which Newfoundland was often a battlefield. In 1824, the British Government began the process of transitioning Newfoundland from naval to civilian rule. The Commissariat remained the administrative hub for British forces that stayed in Newfoundland until 1870, when the nation of Newfoundland became responsible for maintaining law and order.

Go to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Site for more about  Government House and more about Anglo-French Warfare and the British military complex in Newfoundland.