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Official Opening of the Tent Room and Concert

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Official Opening of the Tent Room and Concert

Rideau Hall, Friday, June 18, 2010

When silence falls over Rideau Hall at night, Jean-Daniel, Marie-Éden and I never feel alone.

Because that silence, this place, is inhabited.

Inhabited by the memories of thousands of Canadians and people from all walks of life who have passed through here for generations.

Just this morning, we honoured women and men whose remarkable actions are sources of inspiration, those who were invested in the Order of Canada.

A number of them have joined us tonight.

Members of the Order of Canada, please stand up or raise your hand so we can once again honour the contribution you make to our country’s development.

Let us give them a warm round of applause.

We have gathered in a Rideau Hall room of great historical and heritage value, the Tent Room, which we are officially reopening on the occasion of this great concert put on by the students of the National Art Centre’s Summer Music Institute.

What better way to mark the event than to welcome some of our young musicians among some of the most talented people in the country.

This is certainly in keeping with the purest tradition established by Lord Dufferin and his wife, Lady Dufferin, who designed this room at the beginning of the 19th century.

They say that in March 1876, the Dufferins held a big costume ball here, followed by a dinner that hosted—if you can believe it—fifteen hundred guests!

That many guests must certainly have helped heat the room and the entire residence that early spring evening!

At that time, this room was made of wood that was covered with red-and-white striped fabric, making it look like a tent, which is where its name comes from.

The Dufferins made it a multipurpose room: a tennis court, a reception hall, and a space to promote culture, all in one.

Since then, many official ceremonies, dinners, banquets and presentations of all kinds have been held in this room, events that highlighted Canadian artistic and culinary talents.

With the appointment of Governor General Vincent Massey—the first Canadian governor general—in 1952, the institution became more and more “Canadianized,” if you will.

It started to increasingly reflect the perspectives and aspirations of Canadians, as Canada itself evolved in expressing and assuming its sovereignty.

Before he was appointed governor general, Vincent Massey also chaired the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences.

Since then, every governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada has continued to promote the nature of our history and contributed to Canada’s cultural and social development in thousands of ways, through thousands of projects, creating a precious legacy behind them.

They did this with the support of their spouses and families, who took part in the adventure with heart, commitment and conviction.

They did this with the desire to serve their country and their fellow Canadians.

Jean-Daniel and I subscribe to this continuity and our only goal was to make this institution a place of resonance, where a multitude of voices could be heard; to make it a space that is open to the diversity of Canadian artistic and cultural expression.

And we believe that artists must be counted among a country’s most precious resources.

Through their art, they show the world our unique contribution and make our voices heard.

Therefore, let us honour the young artists from the Summer Music Institute and thank them for being with us here tonight to so beautifully celebrate the official reopening of the Tent Room, which has been magnificently restored.

As soon as we arrived at Rideau Hall, we wanted to contribute to safeguarding our cultural heritage. Well done! Congratulations to the National Capital Commission and to the amazing artisans, some of whom are here tonight.

Tonight is a beautiful moment. A moment that will remain etched in the history of this place, a moment you are all a part of.

Thank you for joining us. Let the music begin!