Ceremonial tree planting
More than 130 commemorative trees grace the grounds of Rideau Hall, planted by members of the Royal Family, heads of state and other dignitaries, and to mark special anniversaries and the end of a Governor General’s mandate.
The tradition began in 1906, with the visit of Prince Arthur of Connaught, son of Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, and later governor general. The red oak he planted still stands over the far end of the Upper Terrace Garden.
In 1907, Japan’s Prince Fushimi made the first official foreign royal visit to Ottawa. In his honour, then Governor General Earl Grey planted a young maple at Ottawa’s Dominion Arboretum, naming it “Prince Fushimi’s tree.”
Since that time, planting ceremonial trees has become a Canadian tradition, symbolizing the living friendship and co-operation of nations. Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family have planted 17 ceremonial trees since 1939.
An abundance of maples and oaks dot the grounds of Rideau Hall, along with conifers and other species native to Canada and selected by the National Capital Commission for their beauty and endurance. Some species are chosen for their significance to the person or country being honoured with an official tree planting. Former Governor General Roméo LeBlanc appropriately chose a white birch, in recognition of his family name.
A bronze plaque at the base of each tree lists the name and title of the person who planted it, and the species and date.