Setting > Ottawa

Rideau Hall

Photo of entrance to Rideau Hall

During the period in my novel Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence, would reach the height of its glory as the centre of political and social life in Ottawa.

When Prince Albert, the Duke of Connaught, was named Governor General of Canada, in 1909, he continued the tradition of holding numerous social events at Rideau Hall such as state dinners, garden parties, costume balls, dance recitals, musical soirees, and theatre productions.

During the winter the Governor Generals and their families enjoyed popular winters sports such as skating, hockey, tobogganing, and skiing on the grounds of Rideau Hall. I had one scene, which didn’t make it into my novel, where Katherine MacNutt and Count Jaggi, attended a skating party hosted by the Connaughts.

Governor General’s had a lasting impact on the sporting life in Canada. The Grey Cup donated by Governor General Lord Grey and the Stanley Cup named after Governor General Lord Stanley are major trophies still being contested today.

History

In 1835, Thomas McKay, an Ottawa stone mason and businessman, had a 11 room stone villa built for his wife and family. The 1,000 acre property was just a few minutes east of Parliament Hill.

In 1864, the Canadian government leased the house and 79 acres as temporary accommodation for the first Governor General of Canada, Lord Monk.

Over the decades many renovations were made to Rideau Hall by the Canadian government and the Governor Generals, sometimes out of their own pockets. The new construction and additions were designed to suit the Governor Generals’ duties and their family needs.

Photo of entrance to Rideau Hall

Architecture

Rideau Hall is fashioned after an English estate with pastoral open spaces, natural woodland, and walking paths. Since 1835, Rideau Hill has grown from its original 11 rooms to 179 room historic designated building.

Some of the additions made were:

Photo of entrance to Rideau Hall

Sources and further readings

Web

The Governor General of Canada (Official site)

The Governor General of Canada > Rideau Hall (History)

The Governor General of Canada > Rideau Hall (Tours)

The Governor General of Canada > Former Governors General

Rideau Hall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Print

Gwyn, Sandra. Tapestry of War. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1984.

Gwyn, Sandra. The Private Capital: Ambition and Love in the Age of Macdonald and Laurier. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1989.