Government House

A Regency Villa

In 1838, Thomas McKay, a wealthy entrepreneur, built his elegant family home on the outskirts of Ottawa. This impressive 11-room structure earned the nickname "McKay's Castle" among the neighbours.

Main Entrance
Main Entrance of Rideau Hall

Pauline Vanier Room
Pauline Vanier Room of Rideau Hall

The Long Hall
Rideau Long Hall

Rideau Reception

The Greenhouse
Rideau Greenhouse

Gates to Rideau Hall
(see "Gate Posting" video in righthand column)
Rideau - The Gates

"Rideau Hall today is the official residence and workplace of the governor general of Canada. Over the years, the house has evolved in size and complexity to serve its various official purposes.

The main building contains about 175 rooms, covering about 8,825 m² (95,000 sq.ft.).

The grounds, which combine aspects of a British country estate with those of the Canadian landscape, encompass some 32 hectares (79 acres) and 20 historic buildings, as well as rose gardens, rockeries, cricket lawns and stands of trees.

Since 1986, the buildings and grounds of Rideau Hall have been managed by the NCC, which is implementing a long-term rehabilitation project to ensure that the valuable heritage buildings on the estate remain in optimal condition. The work will continue in years to come.

The grounds of Rideau Hall represent one of the finest historic landscapes in Canada. In 1998, they were designated as a cultural landscape of national historic significance by the Minister of Canadian Heritage. In keeping with British landscape tradition, the grounds are divided between treed lawns, flowerbeds and service areas, with some areas remaining in a semi-wild state.

Despite the British inspiration, however, these grounds have an unmistakable Canadian quality. And, indeed, in the 19th century, they became the centre of a cult of winter, as governors general and their families enjoyed snowshoeing, tobogganing, skating and skiing on these grounds.

Rideau Hall is classified as a federal heritage building, and many features in the grounds, including several outbuildings and the entrance gates, have also been recognized for their historic significance.

"It is here that ambassadors present their credentials, and visiting dignitaries and foreign heads of state are entertained.

Canadians also come here to be honoured for their contributions. As well, the grounds are open to the public in all seasons of the year for an array of concerts, ceremonies, celebrations and sporting events."

For videos which provide a tour of the building and grounds, see

As there will be neither Queen nor Governor-General in Canada, and their retinue will also disappear, this might be considered by the incoming Prime Minister as a prime location for his official residence, both a home and official office, making both Sussex Drive and Stornoway obsolete.

The Crown Collection

The Crown Collection is showcased throughout the residence at Rideau Hall; highlights are presented during the Residence Tour and the Art Tour.

Since Lord Monck first moved into Rideau Hall, the government has acquired furniture and works of art for the official residence, changing the decorations and furnishings throughout the years. Today, the works of art and furniture at Rideau Hall are part of the Crown Collection, which enrich our national heritage. The collection is comprised of contemporary and antique works of art, traditional Canadian furniture, and pieces coming from Europe, the Far East and other regions around the world.

The Crown Collection is managed and curated by the National Capital Commission (NCC). It also encompasses the art and furniture of the other six official residences in Canada's Capital Region.

New acquisitions are carefully selected and special care is given to their provenance. Representing each province and territory is particularly important in the case of Rideau Hall, which acts as a window on Canadian culture. The art and furniture at Rideau Hall were chosen on the basis of their history, significance, origin or connection to a governor general, in order to enhance the value of the heritage site.

The Canadiana Fund

The majority of new acquisitions come from donations made to the Canadiana Fund. The Canadiana Fund was established in 1990 to enhance the State areas of Canada's official residences, through donations of the finest examples of historical furnishings, paintings and objects d'art. The chosen pieces reflect Canada's heritage and artistic traditions, or are historically associated with, or complement, the architectural style of each residence.

Other Collections Represented at Rideau Hall

To broaden the range of works displayed at Rideau Hall, the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General obtains pieces on loan from various museums and other cultural institutions from across Canada. The tradition of borrowing works of art began in the 1930s; as early as the time of Lord Bessborough, the National Gallery of Canada has loaned several paintings to Rideau Hall. Today, around 100 works on display are on loan from various sources.

Rideau Hall is located only few minutes from downtown Ottawa. Tours of the residence and of the grounds are offered year-round. The grounds are open daily from 8 a.m. to one hour before sunset.

Government House, Ottawa
(3 minutes 29 seconds Video

Gate Posting at the Governor General's House
(3 minutes 47 seconds Video)

Rideau Hall from the Air
Aerial view of Rideau Hall

Rideau Hall - Floor Plan
Floor Plan, Rideau Hall

©  Dr Milson Macleod
January 2010

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