Since 1867, Rideau Hall (officially known as “Government House”) has been the official residence of the Canadian Monarch and Governor General. The House was originally built in 1838 by Scottish stonemason, Thomas McKay (principal contractor for the Rideau Canal). While working on the canal, McKay purchased 100 acres of land overlooking the Ottawa and Rideau rivers and built a stone villa for his family. Known by locals as “McKay’s Castle” ( but by McKay himself as “Rideau Hall”), the family lived here until 1855. When “Bytown” became the new capital of the Province of Canada in 1864, and renamed “Ottawa”, the mansion was leased to the Crown as a “temporary” residence for the viceroy of Canada. The following year, renovations to the building quadrupled its size with the addition of a 49 room wing. By 1868, the property was purchased outright and soon became the social center of Ottawa. Today, this 175 room mansion, with its 27 out buildings, serves as the center piece for the Governor General’s state occasions, as well as his/her personal residence and offices. Also on the grounds, the “Rideau Cottage” is the official residence of Canada’s Prime Minister and his/her family. Among the other buildings located on the grounds are the headquarters of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detail, the Governor General’s Foot Guards, a Visitors Center, six greenhouses, a farm, and stables. Free tours of the State Rooms are available throughout the year.
Canada’s Prime Minister resides in the Rideau Cottage, also located on the grounds of Government House.