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VICE-REGAL RESIDENCES: A GLIMPSE INTO HISTORY
 
(2019 - Spring Issue)

Writer: LAURA BYRNE PAQUET



In Ottawa and Québec City, you can enjoy a bit of royal glamour—for free!

Rideau Hall in Ottawa and the Citadelle in Québec City are the two official residences of Canada’s Governor General, the Queen’s representative in Canada. Throughout the year, guided tours are available. Here’s what you can see and do at each site.

AT HOME IN OTTAWA

Rideau Hall was originally the villa of stonemason Thomas McKay, who made his fortune as one of the primary builders of the Rideau Canal locks. Over the years, the house has been greatly expanded, and one of the architectural highlights is the Ballroom, inaugurated in 1873. With its pale blue walls, gilded ceiling and one-ton Waterford crystal chandelier, it is the grand setting for Order of Canada investiture ceremonies and other national events.

The Tent Room, with its red-and-white striped walls and ceiling, also makes a big impression on many visitors. Originally an indoor tennis court, it was sometimes redecorated with swags of fabric for opulent events. The tent-like look proved so popular that it became a permanent aspect of the decor.

Visitors can also explore Rideau Hall’s pretty grounds, on their own or using the self-guided tour brochure available at the visitor entrances. The 32-hectare property’s attractions include an outdoor skating rink, a cricket pitch and thousands of trees. Among them are roughly 150 trees planted by visiting dignitaries, including John F. Kennedy, Kofi Annan and Diana, Princess of Wales.

MILITARY GRANDEUR IN QUÉBEC

So why does the Governor General have two official residences? The answer lies in Canada’s complex history.

Colonial Governors had lived in Québec City since New France was founded in the early 1600s. In 1872, five years after Ottawa became Canada’s capital, Governor General Lord Dufferin revived the tradition by establishing quarters in Québec City. The building that is now the Governor General’s second official residence was built by the British Army in 1831 as an officers’ barracks. Officially known simply as “Building 28,” it is part of the Citadelle of Québec’s fortress, a National Historic Site of Canada, located high atop Cape Diamond in Old Québec.

After a fire destroyed part of the Governor General’s residence in 1976, a new wing was constructed with a contemporary decor featuring walnut, granite and aluminum accents. That wing now houses a sunroom, space for official events and a grand foyer with twin spiral staircases.

One added benefit of touring the residences is the chance to see valuable artifacts and artworks. Both buildings are furnished with fine antiques and with works by noted Canadian artists, such as Emily Carr, Jean Paul Lemieux, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Allen Sapp.

Travel Planner

Depending on the time of year and the size of your group, you may need to make advance reservations for your free tour. For more information, visit gg.ca.

 
 
 
 
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