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Governor General of Canada / Gouverneur général du Canadaa




The Ballroom at Rideau Hall

The Ballroom at Rideau Hall is where the governor general welcomes Canadian and foreign dignitaries and honours Canadians who have done something special for their country or community. It is where governors general hold State dinners and investiture ceremonies for the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit and the Decorations for Bravery, as well as many other official functions.

The Ballroom is one of the most significant rooms at Rideau Hall. It was inaugurated on March 13, 1873, during the time of Lord Dufferin (1872-1878). Lord and Lady Dufferin were active participants in the Canadian way of life. They were especially interested in customs and activities that were new to them. They set the standard for subsequent governors general to engage in Canadian cultural life. Dances were a popular pastime during the winter months. The Dufferins were famous in Ottawa and on the international scene, in particular for the masquerade ball they hosted in February 1876 for 1500 guests!

Plays were often staged in the Ballroom. It is believed that the first theatrical productions in the Ottawa region were presented in the Ballroom in the 1870s. At the turn of the 20th century, theatre in the home ceased to be fashionable. The stage was removed from the Ballroom, but you can still see today what remains of the proscenium arch.

In 1951, during the mandate of Lord Alexander, the last British-born governor general (1946-1952), the British government presented the chandelier that adorns the room to thank Canada for its contribution to the war effort. There are 12,000 pieces of Waterford crystal and 80 light bulbs in the chandelier. The entire fixture weighs one imperial ton.

During the various functions that take place in the Ballroom, Jean Paul Lemieux’s 1979 portrait of the Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburg gazes over the audience. At the other end of the room, a masterpiece by Norval Morrisseau entitled Androgyny (1983) is on display. The artwork represents the Ojibway shaman’s world view, showing a thriving and bountiful world in which all the diverse elements are in perfect balance.

The stained glass windows commemorate the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards.

Updated: 2018-03-26
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