Her Excellency The Right Honourable Mary Simon C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., O.Q., C.D.

Governor General of Canada


Mary Simon has attained national and international recognition for her work on Arctic and Indigenous issues and as an advocate for Inuit rights and culture.

Born in Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik (Quebec), Ms. Simon began her career as a radio broadcaster with the CBC Northern Service (now CBC North) in the 1970s. Following this, she held a series of executive positions with the Northern Quebec Inuit Association and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, centred on negotiating the first land claims agreement in Canada. As President of Makivik Corporation, she was directly involved with the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, and with the protection and promotion of Inuit rights under that agreement.

Along with fellow Indigenous leaders, she was actively involved in the negotiations leading to the 1982 patriation of the Canadian Constitution, which formally entrenched Aboriginal and treaty rights in the supreme law of Canada.

She later joined the Executive Council of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (now the Inuit Circumpolar Council), for which she served two terms as President. She was Commissioner of the Nunavut Implementation Commission and Policy Co-Director of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

From 1994 to 2003, Ms. Simon served as Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, becoming the first Inuk to hold an ambassadorial position. During this time, she negotiated the creation of the Arctic Council. Concurrently, she served as Ambassador of Canada to Denmark from 1999 to 2001.

Beginning in 2006, Ms. Simon served two terms as the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. In 2008, in the House of Commons, she delivered a response on behalf of Inuit to the formal apology on residential schools. She is the founder of the Arctic Children and Youth Foundation and, until 2014, she was the Chairperson of the National Committee on Inuit Education.

In 2017, as the Minister’s Special Representative, Ms. Simon delivered a report to the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs on A new Shared Arctic Leadership Model, setting the stage for important policy and program development in support of the Arctic and its residents.

Among other distinctions, Ms. Simon is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec. She is also a recipient of the Governor General's Northern Medal, the Gold Order of Greenland, the National Aboriginal Achievement Award, the Gold Medal of the Canadian Geographical Society, and the Symons Medal.

Bio courtesy of the Governor General of Canada

 @GGCanada   @RideauHall

One King; Eleven Crowns
Governors of New France 1612-1760
Governors of British North America 1760-1867
Governors General of Canada 1867-present
The Vice Regal Standard
Government House
The Role of the Governor General
The Appointment of the Governor General
The Swearing In of the Governor General
The Vice-Regal Salute
Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces


How can the King, who lives in Britain, be our head of state?  Enter the vice regal representative.

He Can't Be Everywhere at Once

While The King is our official head of state, he obviously can't be physically present in every country of which he is Sovereign.  He relies on his vice regal representatives to act on his behalf.

Eleven Crowns in Canada

The Governor General serves as the Crown's representative for Canada as a whole. Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the federal government. This doesn't mean that the Lieutenant Governors are lower in status than the Governor General. Lieutenant Governors are provincial representatives of the Sovereign invested with the same powers in provincial jurisdiction as the Governor General in federal jurisdiction.

-- J. E. N. Weibe Interpretive Centre, Government House, Regina



  • Samuel de Champlain 1612-1629 1633-1635
  • Charles de Montmagny 1636-1648
  • Louis d'Ailleboust de Coulonge 1648-1651
  • Jean de Lauson 1651-1656
  • Le vicomte d'Argenson 1658-1661
  • Le baron d'Avaugour 1661-1663
  • Sieur de Mesy 1663-1665
  • Sieur de Courcelle 1665-1672
  • Le comte de Frontenac 1672-1682
  • Joseph-Antoine de LaBarre 1682-1685
  • Le marquis de Denonville 1685-1689
  • Le comte de Frontenac 1689-1698
  • Le chevalier Hector de Calliere 1699-1705
  • Le marquis de Vaudreuil 1705-1725
  • Le marquis de Beauharnois 1726-1747
  • Le comte de La Galissonniere 1747-1749
  • Le marquis de La Jonquiere 1749-1752
  • Le marquis Duquesne de Menneville 1752-1755
  • Le marquis de Vaudreuil-Cavagnal 1755-1760



  • Jeffrey Amherst 1760-1763
  • James Murray 1764-1768
  • Sir Guy Carleton (Lord Dorchester) 1768-1778
  • Sir Frederick Haldimand 1778-1786
  • Lord Dorchester 1786-1796
  • Robert Prescott 1797-1807
  • Sir James Craig 1807-1811
  • Sir George Prevost 1812-1815
  • Sir John Sherbrooke 1816-1818
  • The Duke of Richmond 1818-1819
  • The Earl of Dalhousie 1820-1828
  • Lord Aylmer 1831-1835
  • Earl Amherst 1835
  • The Earl of Gosford 1835-1837
  • The Earl of Durham 1838
  • Sir John Colborne 1839
  • Lord Sydenham 1839-1841
  • Sir Charles Bagot 1841-1843
  • Lord Metcalfe 1843-1845
  • The Earl of Cathcart 1846-1847
  • The Earl of Elgin 1847-1854
  • Sir Edmund Head 1854-1861
  • The Viscount Monck 1861-1867



  • The Viscount Monck 1867-1868
  • Lord Lisgar 1868-1872
  • The Earl of Dufferin 1872-1878
  • The Marquess of Lorne 1878-1883
  • The Marquess of Lansdowne 1883-1888
  • Lord Stanley 1888-1893
  • The Earl of Aberdeen 1893-1898
  • The Earl of Minto 1898-1904
  • Earl Grey 1904-1911
  • HRH The Duke of Connaught 1911-1916
  • The Duke of Devonshire 1916-1921
  • Lord Byng 1921-1926
  • The Viscount Willingdon 1926-1931
  • The Earl of Bessborough 1931-1935
  • Lord Tweedsmuir 1935-1940
  • The Earl of Athlone 1940-1946
  • The Viscount Alexander 1946-1952
  • The Right Honourable Vincent Massey 1952-1959
  • Major General The Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier 1959-1967
  • The Right Honourable Roland Michener 1967-1974
  • The Right Honourable Jules Léger 1974-1979
  • The Right Honourable Edward Schreyer 1979-1984
  • The Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé 1984-1990
  • The Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn 1990-1995
  • The Right Honourable Roméo Leblanc 1995-1999
  • The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson 1999-2005
  • The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean  2005-2010
  • The Right Honourable David Johnston  2010-2017
  • The Right Honourable Julie Payette 2017-2021
  • The Right Honourable Mary Simon 2021-present
  • ** Since 1952, Governors General of Canada have been Canadian Citizens
    * Since 1952, the appointment of Governor General has fashioned in the tradition of alternating between English and French language background



    The Vice Regal Standard of the Governor General of Canada bears the crest from the Canadian arms: a crowned lion holding a red maple leaf in its right front paw and standing on a heraldic wreath of red and white upon a blue field.

    The use of this device for a governor general goes back to when the Queen wished to honour Governor General Vincent Massey. During her 1957 visit, the Queen had offered to make him a member of the Order of the Garter, thus giving him the oldest and most prestigious of the British honours. However, Prime Minister John Diefenbaker refused to allow him to accept. As Vincent Massey clearly merited a high honour, the Queen's recourse was to give him a truly unusual augmentation of his personal arms: the use of "our royal crest of Canada," on a blue field as a canton on the shield. Nearly a decade then passed before the suggestion arose that this crest from the arms of Canada would make an excellent flag for the governor general. It was made in 1968 by the Reverend Ralph Spence, an ardent flag enthusiast, to Lieutenant Commander Alan Beddoe, one of Canada's leading heraldic authorities, while they were having lunch in a Toronto restaurant. Beddoe liked the idea and took it back to Ottawa where it was received warmly by Governor General Roland Michener. Michener took it to the Queen, who had been encouraging the Canadianization of the royal symbols used in Canada. She was willing to make the change, but the government of the day feared that the public would view the change to the Canadian crest as evidence of creeping republicanism; the issue temporarily died.

    In 1980, as discussions proceeded on the patriation of the Constitution, the appropriateness of the idea again became apparent. In 1981, the crest of the Canadian arms upon a blue field became the sixth version assumed by the flag of the governor general of Canada.

    This flag marks the physical presence of the governor general and so is flown both day and night at any building in which the governor general is in residence. As with the Queen's Personal Flag for Canada, the governor general's flag distinguishes the head of state and must not be flown or used by anyone else.




    Rideau Hall is the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, the home and workplace of every Governor General since Confederation in 1867. Located at One Sussex Drive, Rideau Hall is 79 acres of beautiful landscapted grounds. This stone home of Canada's Governor General 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.




    La Citadelle has been an official Residence of the Governor General of Canada since 1872. La Citadelle is located on the grounds of the Canadian Forces Base in Québec City.  Constructed over a thirty-year period beginning in 1820, and occupied by British troops to defend the city and port from a potential American invasion, it is in the shape of a four-sided polygon and covers an area of 37 acres.  In 1871, shortly after Confederation, the buildings at La Citadelle were given to the Canadian government.  It was at this time that the Earl of Dufferin established a residence for the Governor General in the old capital, reviving a tradition that began with the settlement of New France. Lord Dufferin had the East wing of the officers quarters converted into a vice-regal residence in 1872.


    As both a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, Canada's Head of State is His Majesty The King who is represented at the national level by a Governor General and at the provincial level by a Lieutenant Governor. Therefore, The King has eleven direct representatives in Canada who, by their presence, represent the important work of the Crown and reflect the true face of Canadian society.

    As our Head of State, His Majesty The King cannot be in Canada at all times. In his absence, her direct representatives ensure that the role of the Crown functions as an integral part of our system of government. At the federal level, the duties of the Governor General are varied and form a significant component of our Parliamentary democracy and daily lives.

    The Lieutenant-Governors of the provinces, once representing the Governor General, now act as direct representatives of the King.

    Before 1926, the Governor General acted as the representative of the British government in Canada, and until 1952, was always of British peerage. Since then, the post has alternated between Canadian citizens of English and French background.

    The Governor General's duties, which are largely ceremonial, include:

    • Representing the Crown and ensuring there is always a prime minister. 
    • Acting on advice of prime minister and cabinet ministers to give royal assent to bills passed in the Senate and House of Commons. 
    • Signing state documents. 
    • Reading the throne speech. 
    • Presiding over swearing-in of prime minister, chief justice and cabinet ministers.


    The monarch appoints the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada. From 1867 to 1952, every Governor General was a subject of the United Kingdom and a member of the aristocracy. The last British Governor General was Harold Alexander, 1st Viscount Alexander of Tunis, who served from 1946 to 1952. Since Vincent Massey's appointment in 1952, the position has been held only by Canadians. Moreover, by tradition, the post has been held alternately by English-Canadians and French-Canadians. Beginning in 1967, the Prime Minister has forwarded the monarch a single name when proposing a vice-regal appointment; previously a list of several names had been given.

    Although non-partisan while in office, Governors General are often former politicians. Since 1952, individuals who previously served as diplomats, as cabinet members, or as Speakers of the House of Commons have been appointed to the post. The former Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, was previously an author and television anchor; she was the first Governor General in Canadian history without either a political or military background. She was also the first Asian-Canadian and the second woman to serve in the position. The first female Governor General of Canada was Jeanne Sauvé, who served from 1984 to 1990.

    The third woman to hold this position is Michaëlle Jean, who took office on September 27, 2005. Jean is also the first Black Canadian Governor General.

    It is traditional that an appointed individual act as the King's representative for a minimum of five years, but the Canadian Prime Minister may advise the King to extend the Vice-Regal's tenure. For instance, Adrienne Clarkson would have been in office for five years as of 2004, but her appointment as Governor General was extended by the Queen on the advice of Prime Minister Paul Martin, who deemed that it was preferable to have an experienced Governor General in place while a minority government remained in power. The tenures of other Governors General, including Georges Vanier Roland Michener, have been extended beyond five years in previous circumstances. Governors General may resign from office, as, for instance, Roméo LeBlanc did in 1999 due to health concerns, as did Julie Payette in 2021 due to complaints towards her of a toxic work environment.

    If the Governor General dies, leaves office abruptly or leaves the country for more than one month, the Chief Justice of Canada (or, if that position is vacant, the senior Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada) serves as Administrator of the Government Sir Lyman Poore Duff (1940), Chief Justice Robert Taschereau (1967) and Chief Justice Richard Wagner (2021).


    Having been appointed by The Sovereign, the New Governor General will be sworn into office at a ceremony on Parliament Hill that is as rich in colour as it is in meaning. Beyond taking an oath, the GG Designate will assume the duties as His Majesty's representative, including the role as Commander in Chief of the Canadian Forces, then presented with the insignia of the Order of Canada and the Order of Military Merit, reflecting the important role of the Crown in recognizing Canadian excellence. As the newly installed Governor General completes the oath, the personal standard of the Governor General will be raised over Parliament Hill. Upon exiting the Centre Block, will be accorded the Vice-Regal Salute for the first time as Governor General before inspecting a Guard of Honour. A key element of the installation day will be the Governor General's first address to the nation. This speech will set out the Governor General's vision for the term of office in bringing to life the important and ongoing role of the Canadian Crown in the life of our country and its citizens.


    The Vice-Regal Salute, the Salute to the Governor General, is a musical greeting and a mark of respect. It is performed officially in Canada in the presence of the Governor General.
    It is played at the opening of the Canadian Parliament, military march-pasts and other events attended by the Governor General. Because it is a salute, the audience does not sing either of the abbreviated anthems when the Vice-Regal Salute is played. It is played when the Vice Regal Party reaches the dias in the case of ceremonial functions and when they reach thier seat in the case of other events. The Vice-Regal Salute is composed of the first six bars of the Royal Anthem, "God Save The King", followed by a short version (the first four and the last four bars) of the National Anthem, "O Canada".
    The Vice-Regal Salute was approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1968. When the Governor General makes an official visit abroad, "O Canada" is played as the musical salute.

    Click here to listen to the the Canadian Vice Regal Salute


    The Governor General of Canada is the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces.  In this role, the Governor General encourages encourages excellence and dedication through military honours, visits military bases across Canada and abroad, as well as welcoming troops home along with other ceremonial duties.  As Commander-in-Chief, the Governor General is the Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit which recognizes exceptional service by members of the Canadian Forces.

    Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean at Remembrance Day Service in Ottawa, 2009

    Images courtesy of the Globe & Mail


    With the appointment of Vincent Massey as Governor General in 1952, a new tradition began: “ he was the first Canadian appointed to the post, and from that day the Governor General has always been a Canadian citizen. Since then, the post has alternated between a Canadian citizen of English and French background.


    Governor General of Canada
    Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan
    Rideau Hall
    Government House Regina