Experience the Past Through the Lens of the Present


July 2016

Audio Post: Lansdowne

Today’s post is another audio post, this time for Lansdowne Park. Please enjoy, and let me know what you think.


Rideau Hall: Grey Skies, Warm Hearts

In 1904, a new Governor General arrived in Rideau Hall. Albert Edward Grey, the 4th Earl of Grey, was a member of the British political elite; a grandfather had been one of the sponsors of the original Reform Bill, and his father a private secretary to Prince Albert.[1] Grey was a committed imperialist at the end of the Imperial age, and spent a good portion of his reign trying to promote the Empire to the people of Canada.[2] Grey was also a warm and cheerful man, and made a favourable impression on Canadians during his many tours of the country.

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ByWard Market: In The Beginning


In the beginning, there was a city. Bytown in the 1840s was a rapidly growing settlement, but had not yet received the infrastructure which would allow it to expand beyond its construction-camp roots. The roads were primarily dirt (or mud, for most of the year), there was only a couple of churches, and internal commerce was practically non-existent. Into this void stepped the first Town Council of Bytown in 1847. The articles of incorporation for Bytown ensured that Lower Town (which roughly corresponds to the area of Byward Market today) held the balance of power on the council, and thus John Scott, a lawyer whose office was based in Lower Town and a strong Reformer (analogous to the later Liberal Party), became the mayor.[1] One of the first tasks faced by the new Council was establishing two markets in Bytown, one for Upper Town and one for Lower Town; this decision, however, proved unexpectedly controversial.

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Rideau Hall: The Governess General

Lord Aberdeen

While it is true that, on balance, the role of Governor General has made more of an impact on Canadian society than that of their spouse, this has not always been the case. Ishbel Maria Gordon, more commonly known as Lady Aberdeen, came to Rideau Hall with her husband (Lord Aberdeen, or George Hamilton-Gordon) in 1893. The family was not without Canadian connections, having purchased property in British Columbia following a tour of Canada in 1890.[1] Lord Aberdeen was also a rising star within imperial circles of governance, having previously held the post of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland before the sudden fall of Gladstone’s first government.[2] When Gladstone returned to power he offered Lord Aberdeen his choice of post, and Aberdeen chose Canada, which was scheduled to be vacated by the Stanleys (of Stanley Cup fame) in 1893.[3]

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Rideau Hall: General

If asked where the constitutional centre of Canadian government resides, many Canadians might reasonably state that the answer is Parliament Hill. In this, however, they would be incorrect. The true constitutional centre of government in Canada lies (an inconvenient) three kilometres away at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada. The official representative of the Queen in Canada, the post of Governor General has been stripped of most official responsibilities but retains the symbolic responsibility of acting as a symbol of unity for a nation that has often been divided.

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Dow’s Lake: Audio Post

Hello everyone! Today’s post will be in a new format: an audio post. For those who want to learn about Dow’s Lake without having to read all three of the first posts, please use the following link:

Please let me know what you think of this format, and have a wonderful day.

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