Inside the Queen’s official residence in Canada: How beloved hall feels like home


Inside the Queen’s official residence in Canada: How beloved hall feels like home

The Queen has visited Canada more than any other Commonwealth nation during her 66-year reign so it’s no surprise the UK’s longest-serving monarch has an official residence there.

Rideau Hall in Ottawa has been the official home of Canada’s monarch and the nation’s prime minister since 1967.

This means that when a then-Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen in 1963, Rideau Hall became her home in Canada.

The Queen was no stranger to the sprawling estate, having visited as a youngster when her father King George IV was head of state.

Following the outbreak of the World War Two, it was believed the King, Queen and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, would move to Canada during the deadly conflict.

However, it was decided the family would not leave the UK during the war as it would be a major blow to morale.

The Queen has visited Canada the most during her reign (Image GETTY )
The Queen has visited Canada the most during her reign (Image GETTY )

During King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth’s first royal tour of Canada they made their first visit to Rideau Hall on May 19, 1939.

Official royal tour historian, Gustave Lanctot, said of the visit: “When Their Majesties walked into their Canadian residence, the Statue of Westminster had assumed full reality: the King of Canada had come home.”

And today, 175-room Rideau Hall is the place where the Queen stays when she visits Canada.

She is also joined by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who lives in Rideau Cottage, located in the grounds of Rideau Hall.

The Queen has visited Canada more than any other country, goin on tour there 25 times during her reign.

Christine Macintyre, master of the household, told how she prepares for a visit from a member of the royals.

The Queen's son Prince Charles and Camilla in Canada (Image GETTY )
The Queen’s son Prince Charles and Camilla in Canada (Image GETTY )

Speaking on ITV documentary Queen of the World, which aired last night, Ms Macintyre said: “After a long day of travelling, there is nothing better than going into a bed that doesn’t feel like a hotel bed, and that’s what you’re trying to do.. is to make it feel like they are in their own bedroom”.

Throwing her arms up, she exclaimed: “And they are.”

During the documentary, Ms Macintyre was preparing for the visit of Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Canada at the same time as Canada Day.

She added: “There are special sheets that are used for members of the royal family, and they are kept aside and brought out on only those social occasions.”

Rideau Hall boasts approximately 175 rooms and 27 outbuildings.

The Queen's parents first visit to Canada (Image GETTY )
The Queen’s parents first visit to Canada (Image GETTY )

The rooms are furnished both with elements from the history of the residence as well as art and other objects to showcase contemporary Canadian culture, including pieces by the Group of Seven’s Lawren Harris, Emily Carr, Jean Paul Lemieux, and Bill Reid.

The original site of Rideau, built by stonesmason Thomas McKay, was a small structure and it has since seen many major developments.

In 1838, the main entrance to the house was on the west side and opened into a hall with stairs to the upper floor directly ahead.

It was later extended with a verandah, a cross hall, and a new staircase capped by an ornate stained glass lantern.

The hall now boasts a an indoor tennis court and the ballroom thanks to Earl of Dufferin taking up residence in 1872.

A portrait of the Queen is proudly displayed in the hall’s grand ballroom.

The Minto Wing was constructed on the east end of Rideau Hall when the Earl of Minto arrived in 1898 with his large family and household, and was completed in the following year.

Minto’s successor, the Earl Grey, was then quick to move the governor general’s study to the far east end of the Monck Wing.

Rideau Hall was then again extended in 1913, with the construction of the Mappin Block, which linked the ballroom and Tent Room.

In 1982, Queen’s daughter, Anne, Princess Royal, opened an accessible entrance, which was named after her and the Minto Wing was eventually converted from residences to offices.

Through 2006 and 2007, the Hall underwent a major renovation after prompts from Governor General Michaëlle Jean.

This was the first time any considerable work had been done on the front facade since the 1960s, with the masonry treated and restored, the original sash windows rehabilitated and stripped of their lead paint, and the copper roof of the Mappin Wing repaired.

Most recently in 2012, work began to replace the building’s heating and cooling system, expected to supply approximately half of the building’s heating requirements during winter.


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