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.