Charles Vincent Massey, PC, CC, governor general 1952-59, historian, business executive, politician, diplomat, royal commissioner, patron of the arts (born 20 February 1887 in Toronto; died 30 December 1967 in London, England). Massey was the country’s first Canadian-born governor general. He helped create the Order of Canada in 1967, and as a champion of the arts in Canada laid the groundwork for the Canada Council, the National Library of Canada and the National Arts Centre.
Daniel Roland Michener, PC, CC, OOnt, governor general of Canada 1967-74, lawyer, politician, diplomat (born 19 April 1900 in Lacombe, AB; died 6 August 1991 in Toronto). Michener was the first former MP to become governor general and served during Canada’s centennial year of 1967. He inaugurated the Order of Canada and was a champion of sport and fitness.
Ramon (Ray) John Hnatyshyn, PC, CC, governor general of Canada 1990-95, lawyer, lecturer, politician, (born 16 March 1934 in Saskatoon, SK; died 18 December 2002 in Ottawa). Described as a “man of the people,” the affable Ray Hnatyshyn opened the grounds of Rideau Hall to Canadians and made the office of governor general more genial and approachable than it had been under his predecessor. He called his appointment the greatest honour possible for an “average Canadian.”
Jules Léger, PC, CC, governor general of Canada 1974-1979, journalist, diplomat, (born 4 April 1913 in Saint-Anicet, QC; died 22 November 1980 in Ottawa). As Canadian ambassador to France, Léger won admiration for his deft handling of French president Charles de Gaulle’s controversial “Vive le Québec libre” speech in 1967. Despite suffering a stroke soon after becoming governor general, he encouraged national unity during his term while the country was divided by disputes over Quebec separatism.
Jeanne-Mathilde Sauvé, PC, CC, governor general of Canada 1984-1990, journalist, politician, speaker of the House of Commons (born 26 April 1922 in Prud'homme, Saskatchewan; died 26 January 1993 in Montreal). Sauvé was Canada's first woman to be Speaker of the House of Commons and first woman to serve as governor general.
Georges-Philéas Vanier, PC, governor general of Canada 1959-67, soldier, diplomat, (born 23 April 1888 in Montreal; died 5 March 1967 in Ottawa). Vanier was the first French Canadian to serve as governor general. As a diplomat, he and his wife helped many Europeans displaced by the Second World War. A devout Christian, he urged love and unity amid the emergence of Quebec separatism in the 1960s. In 1988 he was named the most important Canadian in history by Maclean’s magazine.
David Lloyd Johnston, professor, university administrator, governor general (born 28 June 1941 in Copper Cliff, ON). After establishing himself as a respected professor and well-published scholar, Johnson became president of two major Canadian universities. Beginning in the 1980s, he served as an advisor to the federal and Ontario governments, both Liberal and Conservative, on a number of sensitive issues, including what would become the Oliphant Commission. Appointed governor general in 2010, Johnston encouraged education, innovation, philanthropy and volunteerism and devoted much of his time to the plight of Indigenous peoples. After Johnston served five years in office, the government asked him to stay in office for an additional two years, making him the longest-serving Canadian governor general in half a century.2
John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, 1st Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair, Earl of Aberdeen from 1870 to 1916, governor general of Canada from 1893 to 1898 (born 3 August 1847 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom; died 7 March 1934 in Tarland, United Kingdom). As governor general, the Earl of Aberdeen and his wife, Lady Aberdeen, focused on social welfare and engaging with Canadians of various backgrounds and cultures, setting precedents for the philanthropic initiatives of future governors general. Aberdeen also owned an estate in the Okanagan Valley and pioneered commercial fruit growing in the region.
Sir Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, Major General The Earl of Athlone, Governor General of Canada from 1940 to 1946 (born 14 April 1874 in London, United Kingdom; died 16 January 1957 in London, United Kingdom). Athlone served as Governor General during the Second World War and hosted the Québec Conferences at La Citadelle in 1943 and 1944, where Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt met to decide Allied strategy for victory over Germany and Japan. A maternal uncle of King George VI, Athlone was the last close relative of the monarch to serve as Governor General of Canada.
His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria and governor general of Canada from 1911 to 1916 (born 1 May 1850 in London, United Kingdom; died 16 January 1942 in Surrey, United Kingdom). As governor general, Connaught was involved in military recruitment and philanthropy in Canada during the First World War. He also established the Connaught Cup for marksmanship in the RCMP and made extensive renovations to Rideau Hall. His daughter, Princess Patricia, was the first honorary colonel-in-chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll, Marquess of Lorne from 1847 to 1900, governor general of Canada from 1878 to 1883, author (born 6 August 1845, in London, United Kingdom; died 2 May 1914 in Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom). As governor general of Canada, Lorne founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook extensive tours of western Canada, proposing the names Alberta and Lake Louise in honour of his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. Lorne’s patronage of Canadian artists set precedents for future governors general and his books promoted Canadian landscapes, culture and history to a wide international audience.
In September 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Adrienne Clarkson governor general. Her appointment marked several "firsts" in the selection of Canada's governor general: she was the first without a military or political background, and the first non-white Canadian to be appointed to the vice-regal position.
Edward Richard Schreyer, PC, CC, CMM, teacher, politician, diplomat, premier of Manitoba 1969-1977, governor general of Canada 1979-1984 (born 21 December 1935 in Beausejour, MB). Schreyer was the first New Democrat to form a government anywhere in Canada. He was also the first Manitoban to become governor general. In that post, Schreyer was a strong advocate of bilingualism, the environment and women’s equality, and sought to make Rideau Hall more accessible to Canadians.
Grey, Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl, governor general of Canada, 1904-11 (b at St James's Palace, London, Eng 28 Nov 1851; d at Howick, Eng 29 Aug 1917). A keen imperialist, Grey saw his appointment as governor general as an opportunity to forge stronger links of empire.
Charles Stanley Monck, 4th Viscount in the Irish peerage and 1st Baron in the UK peerage, governor general of BNA, 1861-67, governor general of Canada and Prince Edward Island, 1867-68 (b in Templemore, Tipperary, Ire 10 Oct 1819; d at his Irish residence, Charleville, Enniskerry 29 Nov 1894).