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Rideau Hall, Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Welcome to Rideau Hall, home of the people of Canada. It is my pleasure, alongside Sharon, to open our current home to all Canadians to offer this inside look into what makes this place tick.
What if these walls could talk?
What stories would they have to tell?
We would hear the cheers of onlookers anxiously awaiting the final score as Lord Stanley’s sons played hockey on the Rideau Hall rink.
We would catch the flutter and rustle of papers as Lord Tweedsmuir worked furiously on his next book. We would listen in as the menu for the very first Order of Canada dinner is finally decided.
We would discover what Lord Byng and Mackenzie King said to each other during their historic talks in 1926.
We would hear Princess Patricia asking her father’s advice on lending her name to a fledgling regiment heading to the First World War.
And we would hear the delighted laughter of my grandchildren—and no doubt scores of other children over the years—running through the halls and grounds, playing hide and seek.
As you can see, Rideau Hall has been so many different things to so many people. It has been a workplace, a meeting place, a home. It has been visited by millions of people from around the world, curious about what makes these grounds so special.
Of course, there is the heritage. These grounds have been home to governors general since Confederation, and in the nearly 150 years since, we have amassed an impressive collection of art, furniture and artifacts from across the country. Under this roof, Canadians have gathered to discuss important issues and to honour one another’s accomplishments, to mark occasions both wonderful and sombre.
But it is the people who give Rideau Hall its life and longevity.
Generations have come and gone, adding their own personal touches.
This all started with Thomas McKay, of course, whose vision formed the basis for what this place would become.
And when it became home to our governors general, it was they and their families who took over its stewardship. Some of these former stewards collaborated with us on this project, and I thank them for all that they have done for this office and these grounds.
However, we could not have done this on our own. We surrounded ourselves with dedicated professionals and visionaries, people who were instrumental in the evolution of Rideau Hall, expanding and building and repairing, filling it with meaning and history. Today, it is the men and women of the National Capital Commission who are responsible for these efforts.
I am grateful to staff, both past and present, for sharing their experiences with us. This certainly has been a learning opportunity for us all.
I am proud that CPAC is continuing a grand tradition of showcasing our democratic system and exploring our history through Canada’s institutions, giving Canadians an all-access pass to this residence.
Congratulations to all of you on this occasion.
Let me end now with the assurance that this is by no means the final account of Rideau Hall. There are many more stories to be told, much more history to be made.
If these walls could talk…