Monday, March 26, 2018

A Visit To Rideau Hall

The purpose of my trip out to New Edinburgh on Family Day in February was to visit Rideau Hall's grounds in winter conditions. The Hall is the official residence of Canada's Governor General. It is largely a ceremonial role, assuming the duties of the monarch, in a job that typically lasts five to seven years. Its traditions go back to the governors of New France, and after the end of the French and Indian War, British Governor Generals filled the role for decades. Since Vincent Massey, the job has then been held by a Canadian. The property occupies nearly eighty acres, and much of that is open to the public to come visit.

The rose garden of course is dormant through the winter.

There were other visitors on the paths that day.

The manor itself is just visible through the trees here, something that's not particularly possible when everything is leafed out.

And here we have a view of it upon approaching. The flag of the governor general was flying, so she was in residence. The job takes her across the country regularly, as well as other places around the world.

Tours of the manor vary through the year. During the high season of summer, it's best to come here in the afternoon and perhaps take a tour around two in the afternoon- the busy season requires no photography during tours, but if you're touring at that time of day, the building opens up to a walk through around three PM that allows the photographer to come back through. Fall is a transition time for tours, with less of them, so you can photograph during a tour. And over the winter, reservations are required- they do tours when they have enough people. Family Day was an exception- the Hall had regular tours that you could come join, in English and in French. As I was here anyway, I decided to join a tour, and took the French version, since there was just myself, the guide, and a couple. My spoken French is rusty, but I understand it quite well.

The route of the tour goes through a security checkpoint first, and then comes into the main entrance lobby that you can see in the above shot. This hall is filled with portraits of previous Canadian governor generals from Vincent Massey on. The last one, David Johnston, who retired last fall, has not yet had his portrait done.

We moved off next to the Tent Room. This is dominated by a portrait of Queen Victoria at the far end. British Governor Generals are found in portraits around the room. This was added onto the manor after the Canadian government acquired the property in 1867 to house the governor general. The room was used as a recreational space for tennis, and doubled as a reception area, as British nobles were used to giving garden parties, but couldn't actually do so in an Ottawa winter. These days it is reception space.

This sitting area is off the Tent Room. The piano at the far end was willed to the country by the late Glenn Gould.


  1. An amazing property. I'd love to try that piano by Mr. Gould, even though I don't play very well.

  2. I love the tent room. So playful. How do you pronounce Rideau? Does it rhyme with snow? Is the "i" pronounced like the "e" in "me"? Help!


  3. I got excited when I saw the new header...then brrr! Pretty tearoom.

  4. Love this post. I’ve never been there!

  5. ...the Tent Room sure is interesting.

  6. Comfortable and warm interior compared to all the snow outside.

  7. @Lowell: I wonder how often it's played.

    @Francisco: thank you!

    @Janis: phonetically it would sound like reed-o, so yes, rhyming with snow.

    @Janey: it's still cold today.

    @Marie: it's well worth visiting.

    @Tom: it definitely is.

    @Nancy: yes, the temperatures inside were pleasant.

  8. Awesome, elegant, beautiful, interesting, historical but the cynical part of me says useless.

  9. Good for you for challenging your skills and taking the French tour. Very impressive!

  10. I love the Tent Room! How fun to play tennis in there under Queen Victoria's watchful gaze

  11. What a beautiful place. The tent room really is something else. Be interesting to see some tennis being played back in the day.

  12. @Jan: and we still have snow. Not quite as much as we did that day, but it is lingering.

    @Red: while the job's largely ceremonial, it's not entirely so, and I find there's something to be said for having a head of state who's outside of the political sphere.

    @Sharon: yes, I was able to keep up with things, even if I admittedly couldn't recall the precise word when I said something.

    @Christine: several years ago the previous Governor General had a Canadian comedian come in and do a tour for his show. That included a hockey match between the two of them- in the Tent Room. With all the paintings hanging on the walls!

    @Bill: it's such a colourful space. When it was used as a tennis court, the room's decor was actually tent fabric that could be rolled up to the ceilings, making it look like a very large but otherwise standard court.

  13. i enjoy the sunny cloud kind of day. awesome stripes!! way cool. ( ;

  14. The tent room is quite eye catching! I like the sitting area in the last photo. Looks very elegant!

  15. Gorgeous inside and out William. My fav room is the Tent room, really super fab!

  16. I agree with the comments before me; the tent room looks very special!

  17. @Beth: it was a pleasant day, and still below freezing.

    @Tamago: eye catching indeed.

    @Grace: it is!

    @Marleen: true!

    @Stefan: it's certainly popular.

  18. Impressive place and wonderful wintry photos ~

    Happy Days to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  19. Wow!!! The series of shots are really nice...but ohhhh that banner photo!!! What splendid color!!!

  20. Beautiful inside and out -- thank you for sharing the tour -- and I appreciated learning the bit of Canada history too (we know too little ...)

  21. I'm always impressed by the tent room when you show it!

  22. The tent room is my favorite!

  23. I remember this place from other visits you've made and it continues to be memorable. The Tent Room is unlike any other public venue I've seen.

  24. The inside makes up for the rather austere looking outside. I too like the tent room, such a festive look!

  25. What an impressive residence. I love the tent room, so light and airy:)

  26. This is really gorgeous, William. I would love to see it in person. The grounds, too -- although I'm no fan of the snow, but I bet in season they do them well!

  27. I love the look of the sky in your first two photographs.

    Enjoyed your post, looks very impressive - the tent room is brilliant.

    All the best Jan

  28. I've definitely been there. I remember the tent room!

  29. @Carol: thank you!

    @Chieftess: thanks!

    @Sallie: you're welcome.

    @Mari: it is, yes.

    @RedPat: I enjoy showing it.

    @Norma: it's quite a space.

  30. @Jennifer: thank you.

    @Kay: it's quite a space.

    @Wendy: that's true.

    @Rosie: it does feel that way.

    @Jeanie: it's lovely in all seasons.

    @Jan: thank you!

    @Klara: indeed.