Canada's Living Heritage.
Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
RIDEAU HALL: CANADA'S LIVING HERITAGE was published by the Friends of Rideau Hall to raise money to maintain the Governor General's residence and to purchase items to enhance the building's appeal. It is a magnificent coffee-table book that history buffs and monarchists will enjoy.
The text, as with many similar books, is factual and unimaginative. It is, however, very easy to read. What makes the book exciting are the striking photographs by Gene Hattori, the principal of F:11 Photographic Design, Saskatoon.
In Hattori's hands, Rideau Hall looks like one of the stately homes of Europe, a grand and beautiful estate. Hattori takes us on a photographic guided tour of Ottawa's vice-regal residence. Floor plans are provided throughout, though there is little need of them. Publication of this book should stimulate interest in the Rideau Hall and increase its reputation as one of Ottawa's most popular tourist attractions.
The role of Canada's Governor General is not well known. Most of the news from Ottawa concerns the activities of parliament, the prime minister, and the federal government. The press pays little attention to the Queen's representative in Canada, and rarely discusses his or her activities. The Governor General's political role is hardly ever discussed. Rideau Hall: Canada's Living Heritage attempts to rectify this shortcoming by explaining how that role fits into Canada's political system. This lesson in political science is very well done.
Another interesting feature of the book is the brief mention of past Governors General and their contributions to Rideau Hall. Gerda Hnatyshyn also explains the purpose behind the many honours awarded by the Governor General, including the Order of Canada and the Order of Military Merit.
Rideau Hall: Canada's Living Heritage also contains many photos of the staff at work. We see the chefs preparing meals and members of the maintenance crew carrying out their duties. The book ends with some beautiful scenes of the Rideau Hall grounds. Readers may be surprised to learn the grounds contain a cricket pitch, tennis courts, and greenhouses.
Thomas F. Chambers is Professor at Canadore College of Applied Arts and Technology, North Bay Ontario.
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