The position of governor general is considered the oldest public office in Canada. It dates back to colonial times, when monarchs appointed governors to act as their intermediaries in State affairs. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain—a governor in all but name—fulfilled several duties and responsibilities that would later be carried out by the governors of New France and, after Confederation in 1867, by governors general of Canada.
Over the years, the role and responsibilities of the governor general have changed and evolved under the French and British regimes and after Confederation. As the role of the governor general has changed, so, too, has our Office. Our actions are driven by the past, present and future of our country.
Our Office has been helping Canada’s governors general to connect, honour and inspire Canadians for more than 150 years. Our mission is to support the governor general and serve Canadians. We are also honoured to be the storytellers of Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, and the Citadelle, in Québec, the official residences and workplaces of the governor general of Canada.
The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (OSGG) supports the Governor General in fulfilling his/her constitutional, State and ceremonial responsibilities.
We are also responsible for planning and implementing the Governor General’s program and the many activities he/she undertakes with, and on behalf of, Canadians in communities across the country and abroad, as well as with the Canadian Forces as Commander-in-Chief. These activities serve to recognize outstanding achievement and the pursuit of excellence by Canadians, and to foster national identity, unity and pride. They also promote Canadian values such as respect for diversity, community participation and public education.
To help Canadians understand the roles and responsibilities of the Governor General and how he/she fulfills them, the Office offers both a public information program and extensive visitor and interpretation programs at the Governor General’s historic official residences at Rideau Hall in Ottawa and at La Citadelle in Quebec City. Together, close to 335,000 people visit these sites each year.
Through the Chancellery of Honours, we administer all aspects of the Canadian Honours System, including the Order of Canada, the Decorations for Bravery, the Meritorious Service Decorations, Military Valour Decorations, the Polar Medal and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers. The Chancellery is also home to the Canadian Heraldic Authority, which is headed by the Governor General, and which creates and records armorial bearings in Canada.
The Operating Budget of the OSGG is approved by Parliament and the OSGG is therefore accountable to Parliament for its expenditures. These expenditures are made public through the Public Accounts process at the end of every year.
We are proud of the work we do and strive for excellence. Our culture is deeply rooted in a long-standing tradition of service. We welcome members of the Royal family, heads of State, dignitaries and Canadians from all walks of life, all under the same roof. We work closely with the various levels of government, not-for-profit organizations and communities across the country to connect with Canadians and fulfill our mission. This collaboration enriches our work and gives our employees an even greater sense of purpose and accomplishment.
Our Vision and Mission
Our Office is responsible for supporting the governor general in fulfilling the constitutional, State, ceremonial and other responsibilities of the position.
Our vision is to connect, honour and inspire Canadians.
Our mission is to support the governor general as The King’s representative in Canada and to serve Canadians.
We are responsible for planning and implementing the governor general’s programs and the many activities undertaken across Canada and abroad.
Our activities focus on:
- Showcasing Canada on the world stage
- Recognizing outstanding achievement by Canadians
- Encouraging the pursuit of excellence
- Supporting the governor general as the commander-in-chief of Canada
- Fostering national identity, unity and pride in Canadian values.
Our employees work together to support the governor general and to serve Canadians with integrity, honour and dedication, in a politically neutral manner. Our Office fosters mutual collaboration, trust and respect by promoting a safe and healthy work environment, where employees are valued for their diversity and expertise.
The core values that guide and motivate our attitudes and actions are:
- Pride and honour in service
- Proficiency in duty
- Respect and trust
- Political neutrality and integrity
- Collaboration and teamwork
Our Office is headed by a secretary, who serves as senior advisor to the governor general and is herald chancellor of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
Our Policy, Program and Protocol Branch helps the governor general connect with Canadians through public events and visits. In addition, the Branch is responsible for the governor general and commander-in-chief programs in Canada and abroad. Through its visitor and interpretation programs, the Branch also shares the history of our institution with as many as 300 000 Canadians and international visitors who come annually to Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, and the Citadelle, in Québec.
The Chancellery of Honours recognizes and honours Canadians with medals, awards and decorations. It brings to light the stories of our successes and unsung heroes in our communities. It administers all aspects of the Canadian Honours System and several Governor General’s Awards. The Chancellery is also home to the Canadian Heraldic Authority, which is headed by the governor general and creates and records armorial bearings in Canada.
The Corporate Services Branch provides internal services and implements central agency policies and guidelines that apply across the organization. This branch is divided into two related sections. The first involves financial and material management, information technology, information resources and mail management. The second focuses on human resources, strategic planning, and internal communications, as well as security and transportation services.
Secretary to the Governor General and Herald Chancellor - Ian McCowan
Assistant Secretary to the Governor General - Maia Welbourne
Deputy Secretary, Policy, Program and Protocol Branch – Christine MacIntyre
Deputy Secretary of Honours - Brigadier-General Marc Thériault (Ret'd)