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Official Residences


The Government of Canada provides official residences for the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, and the Speaker of the House of Commons. In addition, the Government owns and manages an official guest house for visiting foreign dignitaries.

MAIN MENU: GOVERNMENT: FEDERAL: OFFICIAL RESIDENCES


The official residences in Canada’s Capital are owned and operated by the National Capital Commission. Rideau Hall, the home of the Governor General, is the only official residence open for public visits. Public Works and Government Services Canada provides the same role for The Citadelle, the Governor General's historic second residence in Quebec City. Please choose one of the following options for more information.

  • Fast Facts - about some of the official residences
  • Rideau Hall - residence of the Governor General
  • The Citadelle - secondary residence for the Governor General
  • Gorffwysfa - residence of the Prime Minister
  • Harrington Lake - secondary residence for the Prime Minister
  • The Farm - residence for the Speaker of the House of Commons
  • Stornoway - residence for the Leader of the Opposition
  • Edgewood - Canada’s Official Guest House

Fast Facts

  • 24 Sussex Drive, the address of the official residence of the Prime Minister, is the Canadian equivalent to the United Kingdom's 10 Downing Street (the address of the official residence of the Prime Minister), or the United States' 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (the address of The White House).
  • The Prime Minister's secondary residence is called Harrington Lake in English and Lac Mousseau in French. Why? Both names have their roots in history — the former name has always been used by English-speaking Canadians, the latter by French-speaking Canadians.
  • During the Second World War, Stornoway, the official residence of the leader of the opposition, served as a refuge for Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. The Netherlands and Canada have retained a special bond ever since.
  • The Farm, the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons, was once the private country estate of former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. At the time, the property was a real farm with sheep, horses, bee hives and pheasants. He bequeathed the property to the Government of Canada in the hopes that other public figures could enjoy a private sanctuary.
  • Edgewood is Canada’s official guest house, built in 1862 for Henry Osgood Burritt. In 1966, the government purchased the property to serve the steady stream of distinguished visitors to Canada during the Centennial celebrations.
  • There is one official residence outside Canada’s Capital. It is The Citadelle in Quebec City, a secondary residence for the Governor General.


Rideau Hall - 1 Sussex Drive

Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Governor General of Canada. In Canada's parliamentary democracy, the Governor General represents Queen Elizabeth II as Head of State.

Rideau Hall Since Confederation in 1867, all Governors General have lived at Rideau Hall. The 79 acre estate features the residence, service buildings, a visitor centre, and extensive grounds and gardens. The property is assessed at approximately $47,600,000.

The grounds feature more than 80 trees planted by visiting foreign leaders as well as distinctly Canadian points of interest like an Inukshuk.

As the official residence of the Governor General, Rideau Hall is a place of dignity, grace and tradition. It also provides a warm welcome to visitors. Unless an official function is taking place, visitors are welcome on the Rideau Hall grounds year-round. Depending on the time of the year, you can:
  • take a self-guided tour of the grounds,
  • peruse the visitor centre and gift shop,
  • tour the public rooms,
  • visit the gardens and greenhouses,
  • enjoy special events like the Governor General's Garden Party or Summer concert Series, and
  • go ice skating.
Rideau Hall was built in 1838 for Thomas Mackay, a prominent mill owner. The property was named Rideau Hall because Mackay helped build the Rideau Canal and owned mills on the Rideau River.

In 1867, it was acquired by the newly formed Government of Canada as the official residence for Governor General Monck. Since then, the stone building has been enlarged to fulfill the needs of official events with large numbers of guests. One interesting feature is the "Tent Room", a wing that originally housed an indoor tennis court and has kept its tent character through the years.

Rideau Hall is not only a residence, it is also a workplace. Here the Governor General carries out many constitutional, diplomatic, and ceremonial duties.

The Governor General is an integral part of Parliament and some of his/her parliamentary duties are carried out at Rideau Hall. For example, the Governor General is responsible for ensuring that Canada always has a Prime Minister. After an election, the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers take the oath of office at Rideau Hall.

Another key task involves international relations. Before diplomats can work in Canada, they must present their credentials to the Governor General in a formal ceremony in the ballroom of Rideau Hall. Canada maintains diplomatic relations with more than 100 countries, so receiving letters of commission and credence is an ongoing task. The residence comprises 88 acres of grounds, the main building with about 175 rooms covering approximately 95,000 square feet plus 24 outbuildings. About 5000 square feet in the main building are used for the private areas; the remaining 90,000 square feet are state, service, and administrative areas.


The Citadelle

The Citadelle Set on the heights of Cap Diamant in Quebec, The Citadelle is one of Canada's most formidable military works. The French government began an extensive fortress here that was not finished when the city fell to British forces in 1759. They redesigned and expanded the original plan, completing the ramparts in 1831 and most of The major buildings within the walls by the 1850s.

In 1820, Lieutenant-Colonet Elias Walker Durnford of the Royal Engineers took charge of the construction of The Citadelle of Quebec, which completed the city's defensive works begun during the French regime. Set on the heights of Cap-Aux-Diamants, The Citadelle dominated the town, harbour and the surrounding countryside. The ramparts were completed in 1831, and the major buildings within the walls about 1850. The walls also contain Frontenac's 1693 redoubt and a 1750 powder magazine. Since 1872, The Citadelle has been an official residence of the Governor General of Canada, who spends the summer months of each year here. The residence is comprised of 153 rooms covering approximately 48,000 square feet.


Gorffwysfa - 24 Sussex Drive

Gorffwysfa This house was built in 1866 by mill owner and Member of Parliament, Joseph Merrill Currier, as a wedding gift to his bride Hannah. He called the home, "Gorffwysfa," a Welsh word meaning place of peace.

The home became the official residence for the Prime Minister in 1951. The first Prime Minister to live there was The Right Honourable Louis St. Laurent. Since his time, all Prime Ministers have lived at 24 Sussex Drive during their time in office. The property is 3.98 acres in size and is assessed at approximately $7,400,000. The one main building has 34 rooms covering approximately 12,000 square feet, and there are four outbuildings.


Harrington Lake

Harrington Lake This country property is situated in Gatineau Park and was originally acquired as part of the federal government’s efforts to protect the forested natural areas around the Capital.

When The Right Honourable John Diefenbaker, who hailed from Saskatchewan, became Prime Minister, several of his supporters suggested that he should have a country retreat near the Capital. Mr. Diefenbaker needed convincing. When he was taken on a tour of the property, the caretaker was instructed "to be sure Mr. Diefenbaker caught a trout." He did, and in 1959, Harrington Lake became an official country residence for the Prime Minister. The property comprises 13 acres of grounds, one main building with 16 rooms covering approximately 8300 square feet, and eight outbuildings.


The Farm

The Farm The Farm, located in Gatineau Park, was an old farmstead dating back to the 19th century. In 1927, it was purchased privately by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King as part of his country retreat at Kingsmere Lake.

At The Farm, King indulged himself as a "gentleman farmer" with cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, orchards, gardens, and bees. The contact with the land and nature was a welcome and necessary relief from the stress of public life.

In 1935, King renovated The Farm as a year-round country retreat. When he died, he bequeathed the property to the Government of Canada in hopes that other public figures would enjoy it as much as he had. It now serves as the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Farm is comprised of more than four acres of grounds, has one main building with 11 rooms covering approximately 5000 square feet, and five outbuildings.


Stornoway - 541 Acacia Avenue

Stornoway This house was built in 1914 by Asconio Joseph, an Ottawa grocer. It was given the name "Stornoway" by its next residents, the Perley Robertsons, after the ancestral home of the Perley family in the Outer Hebrides. Stornoway is known for its role as a refuge during the Second World War for Princess Juliana of the Netherlands and her daughters, one of whom was born in Ottawa.

The house became a residence for the Official Leader of the Opposition in 1950, after concerned citizens raised money for this purpose. For twenty years, it was maintained by donations; in 1970, it was acquired by the Government of Canada for one dollar. It is situated on a one acre lot at 541 Acacia Avenue in Ottawa and is assessed at approximately $4,225,000. The one main building has 34 rooms covering approximately 9500 square feet and there is one outbuilding.


Edgewood - 7 Rideau Gate

Edgewood Canada’s official guest house offers a home-away-from-home for foreign dignitaries. It is located across the street from the residences of the Governor General and the Prime Minister and serves as a pied-à-terre in the Capital for official visitors.

The house was built in 1862 by Henry Osgoode Burritt, an Ottawa mill-owner. It saw many different occupants, including several generations of the Lambart family before being acquired by the federal government in 1966 as an official guest house.

In 1989, the house was restored and refurnished to function more efficiently as a guest house and to better reflect its own history. It is now a showcase for Canadian antiques and decorative arts. The property is located at 7 Rideau Gate, is approximately one-half acre in size and was assessed in the early 2000s at approximately $1,111,000. Edgewood is just the one main building with 30 rooms covering approximately 8500 square feet


SOURCES: National Capital Commission.


See also
Federal Government
Order of Precedence

External Links
Visiting Rideau Hall
10 Downing Street (The Official Residence of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
The White House (The Official Residence of the President of the United States)


Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt