Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wives of Canadian Governor Generals Since 1867

[in progress]

The present day office of the Governor General of Canada came into being upon Canadian Confederation in 1867, yet it is generally accepted that the institution of Governor General is a continuation from the first governorship of New France in 1608.

This list presents only the wives of the Governor Generals who served under Queen Victoria, upon the Confederation of Canada in 1867. Since 1867, there have been 28 Governor Generals, three of them women (see entry under Governor Generals of Canada). Therefore, the following list contains 25 names representing the wives of the 25 Governor Generals from 1867 to 2011.

1. Lady Elizabeth Louise Mary Monck
(The Viscount Monck, GG from 1867-1869)
  • Wife of the first Governor General of Canada upon confederation.
  • Had seven children of which four lived to adulthood.
  • Went back to Ireland with her husband in 1868; died in Ireland in 1892.
Of note: In a visit to the new capital in 1864, Lord Monck saw Rideau Hall, which became the Governor General's residence, and was purchased by the Government of Canada from the MacKay estate in 1868 for $82,000. Before living in Ottawa, the Moncks had resided at Spencerwood, near Quebec City. Lady Monck loved horticulture and made considerable improvements to the grounds of the official residence.


2. Adelaide Annabella Dalton
(The Lord Lisgar, GG from 1869-1872)
  • Born in 1821 in Ireland.
  • Was widowed in 1876, remarried twice after Lord Lisgar’s death.
  • Died in Paris in 1895.
Of note: Lord Lisgar and his wife, Lady Adelaide Annabella Dalton Lisgar, added many important traditions to Rideau Hall. They held the first recorded New Year's Levee in 1869, while he was Administrator, and organized Christmas and Garden Parties. And in 1872, the noon gun firing on Parliament Hill was established, and the Governor General's Foot Guards army regiment was created.


3. Hariot Georgina Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava
(The Earl of Dufferin, GG from 1872-1878)
  • Born in 1833; died in 1936.
  • Had three daughters and six sons.
  • Came to Canada in 1872.
  • Built a reputation as “the most effective diplomatic wife of her generation”; was popular and well loved.
  • Was the first spouse to accompany the Governor General on a tour, visiting southern Ontario in 1872.
  • Visited every province of Canada with her husband. Along with her husband, she drove a spike in the line of what would become the Canadian Pacific Railway.
  • Following their mandate in Canada, Lord and Lady Dufferin went to India where he was appointed as the country’s viceroy.
  • While in India, she set up the National Association for supplying Female Medical Aid to the Women of India (training women doctors, midwives and nurses to improve the situation of Indian women).
  • There are numerous Lady Dufferin hospitals and clinics, medical colleges and midwifery schools named after her.
  • Received the Crown of India in 1884 and the Royal Order of Victory and Albert in 1889.
Of note: As an orator and writer, Lord Dufferin closely followed political debate in Parliament, although as Governor General he was not permitted inside the House of Commons. Instead, Lady Dufferin often attended the debates and reported back to him.


4. Princess Louise Caroline Alberta
(John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll, better known as Marquess of Lorne, GG from 1878-1883)
  • Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter.
  • First royal resident of Rideau Hall.
  • Along with her husband, Princess Louise made many lasting contributions to Canadian society especially in the arts and sciences.
  • Encouraged the establishment of the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada, even selecting some of its first paintings

Of note: Princess Louise was an able sculptor and artist, and a supporter of the feminist movement. Lake Louise in Alberta is named for her as is the province of Alberta.


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