Governor-General Ed Schreyer was working at his desk in Rideau Hall Monday afternoon, election day, when he suddenly began to feel nauseated. He called longtime press aide René Chartier and shortly after was checked into Ottawa’s National Defence Medical Centre to spend his first night ever in hospital. That evening, with his wife, Lily, he watched election returns on a television especially provided for his VIP suite, and the next afternoon he underwent emergency bowel surgery.
At first, stories spread that the 44-yearold Governor-General had a perforated ucler, feeding speculation that he has been less than delighted with his new job. But Colonel B.W. Grace, chief of surgery at the centre, put that to rest. Schreyer had an acute inflammation of some bowel tissue, a condition that, like appendicitis, can hit anyone anytime. “There was no question of stress involved," said Colonel Grace, adding that his patient should suffer no long-term effects.
Nonetheless, some of Schreyer’s friends say if he is not despairing, he is at least somewhat disappointed with the job he took 13 months ago. He has made only a few major speeches on energy and national unity—subjects close to his heart— spending most of his time on ceremonial duties. And while he and his family have humanized the job, it still lacks the challenge Schreyer thrived on when he was premier of Manitoba. Friends are hoping things will improve with Pierre Trudeau back in office, since it was Trudeau who appointed him with the promise of a meatier role for the vice-regal office. During the long summer of Joe Clark's initiation, Schreyer had to content himself with having his picture taken doing colorful things.
Then last week, ironically, he had to spend one of the busiest few days in the vice-regal calendar in bed. Despite a remarkably fast recovery, Schreyer was only allowed two official visitors: Prime Minister Joe Clark on Thursday, whose resignation was accepted, and prime minister-elect Pierre Trudeau Friday, who was called upon to form the next government. During Trudeau’s call, the two old friends chatted for about an hour and Colonel Grace was
consulted, after which it was announced the Governor-General would be back home at Rideau Hall to swear in the new government next Monday, March 3.
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.