Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Visit To Rideau Hall In The Fall

On Thanksgiving earlier this month, I went up to New Edinburgh to pay a visit to Rideau Hall and take in some of the fall colours on the grounds. Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Governor General, and we have a new one, the former astronaut Julie Payette, sworn in a few weeks ago. The grounds here include many trees planted by visiting dignitaries down through the decades, including royalty and heads of state. Much of the nearly eighty acres of land is open to the public, and also includes of all things a cricket pitch.

There were still roses to be found in the rose garden here.

It was a gloomy day, and the fall colours weren't yet at their peak.

Here is the front of the Hall; the area around the main entrance had been closed off for some time, with the fountain being completely replaced. The manor was first built by a stone mason, Thomas McKay, who lived and prospered here with his family. By the time of Confederation in 1867, the government acquired it for the Governor General, and it has been expanded on ever since, swallowing up the original building.

I decided to take a tour, which the public can do through the year (with hours differing based on time of year, including advance registration during the winter). After coming in, the tour took us past portraits of the spouses of former Governor Generals.

Then the tour came up into the main entry hall, where portraits of Governor Generals from the mid 20th century onwards reside. These portraits start with the first Canadian born Governor General, Vincent Massey, all the way up to the second to last in the post. The last Governor General, David Johnston, having had only recently left the position, has yet to have a formal portrait done. In this view, Romeo LeBlanc, who served in the job from 1994-99, has his portrait beside one of the stained glass windows.

The portraits of Governor Generals (all of whom were British) before Massey can be found in this room, the Tent Room, dominated by a portrait of Queen Victoria. Also here are two sets of plaques naming each Governor General (with coats of arms) and the Governors of New France, as that preceded British control in North America. When this room was first added on, it was in the days of Brits in the post, and they tended to like entertaining in tents (which can't be done in an Ottawa winter), and they also favoured this room as an indoor tennis court. These days it serves as reception space.

This comfortably furnished room is off the Tent Room, with doors leading into that space. The grand piano at the far end was willed to the country by the late classical pianist Glenn Gould.

This view looks out into a part of the grounds not open to the public, the private gardens.


  1. Lovely photos from the ground and nice autumn colours too!

  2. Beautiful stain glass window. Nice photos

  3. ...the tent room is so interesting.

  4. The rose garden is still beautiful.
    I got a déjà vu at the 9th photo.

  5. Hello, Rideau Hall is beautiful. The grounds are lovely too. Great tour and photos. Happy Sunday, enjoy you day and the new week ahead.

  6. Such wonderful history and fine spaces, William

  7. @Nancy: it is a fine place to visit.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Maywyn: there is some beautiful stained glass here.

    @Tom: it really is.

    @Jan: it has been awhile since I did the tour. Maybe last fall.

    @Eileen: it seemed a good way to spend the day.

    @Cloudia: I agree!

  8. I'm a sucker for looking at trees planted by important visitors. Planting a tree is a good way to mark the occasoin of an important visit.

  9. It's hard to imagine people played tennis there. I guess the interior was different back then..

  10. It would appear this estate or residence is set amidst a dense forest. It is all quite beautiful. I've sometimes wondered if people get lost in these massive buildings and what they do all day.

  11. What a grand building. I have visited Ottawa a couple of times, but never been to Rideau Hall, perhaps I need to make another trip in that direction. Also I want to see some of the museums and the Art Gallery. Perhaps in 2018.

  12. I've never gone there! Did you see the Trudeau kids wandering the grounds?

  13. I used to have a few recordings of Glen Gould's.

  14. @Red: it's quite a mix of names, including one that I wouldn't like to meet, the Prince of Darkness, Vladimir Putin.

    @Marleen: as I understand it back then, the walls featured drapery resembling a tent, which could be pulled up to the ceiling so that you could play the game in here. You wouldn't think of it now with all those portraits in there.

    @Lowell: it's quite a building. You only see a relatively small portion of it, and you do need a good sense of direction to keep track of where you are even in that. I guess when you're used to it, it's not as much of a problem.

    @Shammickite: if you go in the summer, arrive around two o'clock or so. Photo restrictions are on for the tours that time of year, but sometime after three when they've wrapped up the tours, they open up the doors again for those who wish to go through and photograph. The rest of the year, because there are fewer tours, you can photograph as you take the tour.

    @Sharon: so do I.

    @RedPat: no sign of them!

    @Revrunner: he was quite a musician.

  15. gorgeous gardens. i am so lovely that stripe pattern material (fabric) on the ceiling so amazing!! ( :

  16. Very pretty, even on a gloomy day!

  17. What a beautiful estate. The trees looks gorgeous with their autumn colours. Nice stained glass window.

  18. I've visited the grounds at the hall, but have never been inside. I liked reading the plaques dedicating the trees on the lawns. Glenn Gould's grand piano would be wonderful to see! My dad was a fan, and I grew up listening to a lot of his records.

  19. This looks a wonderful place for a visit.
    I enjoyed your photographs, thank you.

    All the best Jan

  20. I can picture people dancing on that hall's floor!

  21. Maybe tent room is interesting,Tom... But strips are awful inside ;)

  22. @Beth: some people go for it, others do not!

    @Lois: I certainly think so.

    @Bill: thank you.

    @Wendy: another one of his grand pianos is over at the National Arts Centre.

    @Jan: you're welcome.

    @Jennifer: so can I.

    @Klara: I imagine it's a question of personal taste.