The Governor General - the evolution of Canada's oldest public institution
The Office of the Governor General dates back nearly 400 years to 1608 when Samuel de Champlain acted as the Governor of New France, establishing what has become the oldest continuing public office in Canada.
Marking A Milestone
Until 1952, Governors General were British.
Since then, all Governors General have been Canadian and for over 50 years, each has reflected our unique culture and aspirations in their mandate. The year 2002 was a milestone. It marked an affirmation of our identity as Canadians.
The 1952 installation of Vincent Massey as Governor General marked an important evolution in Canadian political affairs. It came about as a result of a number of events in the 1940s:
The naming of a Canadian Governor General reflected this country's new sense of autonomy and identity in the post-war era. It marked the beginning of the modern institution of the Governor General with a Canadian representing the Crown and carrying out the responsibilities of Head of State.
The Evolution Continues
But the evolution of the Governor General's role did not stop in 1952. Since then, Canada's Governors General have taken on more responsibilities:
State Visits abroad
Letters of Credence
Treaties and Declarations of War
For more information on the roles and responsibilities of the Governor General, please click here: roles and responsibilities.