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.