Born in Hong Kong, Adrienne Clarkson emigrated to Canada as a preschooler during World War II. She settled with her family in Ottawa where she was educated in the public school system. After studying English Literature at Trinity College, she earned an Honours B.A. and then an M.A. at the University of Toronto. She continued her literary studies at the Sorbonne in Paris before returning to lecture in English at the University of Toronto for the 1964-65 academic year.
Mme Clarkson began her distinguished career in television as a book reviewer for CBC and was soon chosen to be an interviewer and a host on Take Thirty, a day-time magazine program. After ten years, she moved up to prime time, hosting The Fifth Estate from 1975 to 1982. During this time she won numerous broadcasting kudos, including ACTRA Awards for Best TV Journalist in 1974 and again in 1982, the Gordon Sinclair Award (for outspokenness and integrity in broadcasting) in 1975, and the ACTRA Award for Best Writer of a TV Documentary in 1977.
In 1982 Mme Clarkson switched careers, moving to Paris to become the first Agent-General for the Province of Ontario, a position which involved the promotion of that province's business and cultural interests in Spain, Italy and France. On her return to Canada in 1987 she was named President and Publisher of McClelland and Stewart, one of Canada's most distinguished publishing houses. She held this position for a year before establishing her own signature series Adrienne Clarkson Books at the same firm.
During this time Mme Clarkson resumed her television career as Executive Producer and Host of Adrienne Clarkson's Summer Festival for CBC-TV. From 1989 to 1999, she held the same responsibilities for Adrienne Clarkson Presents, the famous cultural affairs series profiling Canadian and International talent in film, theatre, music, dance and other arts. She garnered a Gemini and a Prix Gémeaux in this period.
Mme Clarkson was Chairwoman of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation in Hull for five years and was also the first non-European elected president of the executive board of IMZ, the Vienna-based international audio-visual association of music, dance, and cultural programmers. She is an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College and of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In 1992, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Since the autumn of 1999 she has been this country's 26th Governor General, bringing energy, dignity, intelligence and compassion to this important position.