My latest article in the Canadian Encyclopedia discusses The Honourable Pauline Vanier, PC, CC (born 28 March 1898 in Montreal, Quebec; died 23 March 1991 in l’Arche, France), vice regal consort of Canada from 1959 to 1967 and chancellor of the University of Ottawa from 1966 to 1973. Vanier was the first woman outside party politics to be appointed to the Queen’s Privy Council. She cofounded the Vanier Institute of the Family in 1965 with her husband, Georges Vanier, and became one of the first companions of the Order of Canada in 1967 for her humanitarian work.
As governor general, the Earl of Aberdeen and his wife, Lady Aberdeen, focused on social welfare and engaging with Canadians of various backgrounds and cultures, setting precedents for the philanthropic initiatives of future governors general. Aberdeen also owned an estate in the Okanagan Valley and pioneered commercial fruit growing in the region.
I discussed the history of the role of the Governor General of Canada with the National Post. In contrast to the United Kingdom, where the Prime Minister and the Queen meet on a weekly basis, there is no set precedent in Canada for regular meetings between the Prime Minister and Governor General. As explained in the National Post:
“However, prime ministers and governors general might become best friends anyway. Royal historian Carolyn Harris told the National Post that Sir John A. Macdonald and Lord Dufferin were so close that Macdonald became godfather to the governor general’s son.”
Dufferin and his wife, Lady Dufferin, were the first viceregal couple since Confederation to become prominent figures in Canadian society, touring all provinces and meeting with Canadians from a wide variety of regions and social backgrounds. Dufferin set key precedents for future Governors General with his extensive travel and granting of academic and athletic honours to Canadians.
Athlone served as Governor General during the Second World War and hosted the Québec Conferences at La Citadelle in 1943 and 1944, where Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt met to decide Allied strategy for victory over Germany and Japan. A maternal uncle of King George VI, Athlone was the last close relative of the monarch to serve as Governor General of Canada.
As Governor General, Connaught was involved in military recruitment and philanthropy in Canada during the First World War. He also established the Connaught Cup for marksmanship in the RCMP and made extensive renovations to Rideau Hall. His daughter, Princess Patricia, was the first honourary Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
As Governor General, Lorne founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook extensive tours of western Canada, proposing the names Alberta and Lake Louise in honour of his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. Lorne’s patronage of Canadian artists set precedents for future Governors General and his books promoted Canadian landscapes, culture and history to a wide international audience.
For more about the Marquess of Lorne, Princess Louise and their reception in Canada, read my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” in Canada and the Crown: Essays on Constitutional Monarchy
Ishbel Marie Marjoribanks Hamilton-Gordon, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair, vice-regal consort, author, philanthropist and women’s rights advocate (born 14 March 1857 in London, United Kingdom; died 18 April 1939 in Aberdeen, United Kingdom). As Vice-Regal Consort to Governor General John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen, from 1893 until 1898, Lady Aberdeen organized the National Council of Women in Canada, became first sponsor of the Women’s Art Association of Canada and helped found the Victorian Order of Nurses. Lady Aberdeen was the first woman to address the House of Commons and the first woman to receive an honorary degree in Canada.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, Marchioness of Lorne was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and vice-regal consort of Canada from 1878 to 1883 (born 18 March 1848 in London, United Kingdom; died 3 December 1939 in London, United Kingdom). Louise was the first member of the royal family to visit British Columbia. As vice-regal consort, she promoted the arts in Canada, including the founding of the National Gallery of Canada and Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Lake Louise and the province of Alberta were named in her honour.
For more of my writing about Princess Louise in Canada, see my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” in Canada and the Crown: Essays in Constitutional Monarchy
My chapter in Canada and the Crown: Essays in Constitutional Monarchy entitled “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown” has been cited prominently in a new book, The Making of Women Artists in Victorian England: The Education and Careers of Six Professionals by Professor Jo Devereux at the University of Western Ontario.
“On July 24, 1878, British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli invited the Marquess of Lorne to become Canada’s fourth Governor General, an appointment which, as Carolyn Harris points out, ‘reflected the long-standing personal relationship between Queen Victoria’s family and the newly self governing Dominion.’…Louise and Lorne could be said to embody for Canadians their continuing connection with the British monarchy, a connection that continues today in the style of the numerous royal visits to Canada, in the many regiments in the Canadian military named for Princess Louise, and in the fact that both the province of Alberta and Lake Louise, in Alberta are named for her.”
“The presence of Princess Louise and the Marquess of Lorne, their travels across this large country and their response to Canadian regionalism in the years just after Confederation in many ways helped define the future ceremonial visits to Canada by members of the British royal family that continue to this day. Carolyn Harris suggests that the ‘practice of royal visits encompassing the full range of Canadian geography was another precedent set in the nineteenth century that continues to shape the structure of royal tours of Canada.'”
Princess Louise was the first member of the royal family to visit the province of British Columbia, which will be toured by William and Kate, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte at the end of this month.
Click here to purchase Canada and the Crown: Essays in Constitutional Monarchy, which contains my chapter “Royalty at Rideau Hall: Lord Lorne, Princess Louise and the Emergence of the Canadian Crown.”