How the Governor-General Earns Salary

G. B. VAN BLARICOM September 1 1909

How the Governor-General Earns Salary

G. B. VAN BLARICOM September 1 1909

How the Governor-General Earns Salary


$50,000 a year! Does a GovernorGeneral of Canada earn such a salary? Can he live on it? Those but little acquainted with the functions of a Governor, his daily duties, his obligations, social and otherwise, the demands made upon his time, his hospitality and his purse, will naturally declare offhand that, in a young and by no means wealthy country like Canada, no man, in a purely administrative arena or gubernatorial capacity, is worth anything like this sum of the people’s money. They will concede perhaps that, in an exalted executive position in a big business concern like a chartered bank, a railway corporation, or an insurance company, a man may hold an office in which his ability, foresight and judgment are worth $50,000 annually to the interests he serves.

And yet $50,000 is not all ! A Governor-General is provided with an official residence known as Rideau Hall. It nestles among many cedar and pine trees to the east of the Rideau River, and is a place of tall chimneys, gray

walls, and inartistic extensions. The property was formerly the home of the Hon. Thomas McKay and was bought by the government in 1864, as a dwelling for vice-royalty. Since the building was acquired it has been considerably added to by the Government and various Governors-General until to-day it is a quaint, picturesque and interesting structure, but one scarcely in keeping with modern styles of architecture or the demands of its eminent occupants. The cost for all repairs and nearly all additions has come out of the public exchequer, while the furnishings are almost wholly provided by the purse of the people.

In addition to all this the representative of the Crown receives several allowances. There is, for instance $8,000 granted annually for the heating and lighting of Government House, while the salaries of the staff are for the most part borne by the nation. A few years ago the travelling concession was raised from $5,000 to $25,000 a year. Thus expense is piled up and the ratepayer in a democratic land like Canada—young in years, full of life and hope, rich only in resources rather than cold cash— stands back, rubs his eyes and wonders where the disbursements for officialdom are going to end. Is it worth it? Can the country stand such a high figure for royal representation? Can it financially afford such a costly part of our legislative system? Along with the furnishings, maintenance and repair account of Rideau Hall it involves the Dominion in an expenditure of something like $125.000 a year.

In the early nineties, when the Liberals did not occupy the treasure benches. Hon. James McMullen, would rise from his seat in the Commons Chamber, for he then represented Xorth Wellington, and, with the Auditor-General’s report on his desk, would bv warning finger and in a raucous voice, thunder against the heavy outlay, lie knew all about the qualité, price and number of the nap20

kins, towels and tablecloths purchased for Rideau Hall, and whether they were needed or not. Such pettv affairs were discussed on the floor of the House by a few bitter partisans, but to-day appropriations in that direction are seldom if ever called into question, unless it be an expenditure of several thousands in the estimates for an extension to the building, which, if it were not occupied by viceroyalty. would be referred to as a ‘‘thing of shreds and patches."

Why the change? There are mamreasons. One is that Canada has become a nation, the people are more liberal in sentiment, broader in outlook, and more prosperous in pocket. Thev recognize that the scale of living and entertaining has increased, and that the representation in its ability, activity and efficiency has been strengthened. A Governor-General is not a stranded peer nor an impecunious aristocrat temporarily out of a job. sent out by the Imperial authorities to a colony at a fat salary, to bow officially before parliament twice a year and socially on many occasions, to act as a sort of rubber stamp on official documents, a drawing card at smart functions, and enjoy the best in the land at the expense of “taxpayers,“ as some persons dearly love to call themselves.

Serving the country and its people in the capacity of a direct representative of the reigning monarch is a serious 'business—a highly responsible post—but still the question crops up, does a Governor-General of Canada earn his salary? Can he live on it— how expensive are the entertainments that he gives, how many do tradition and precept impose upon him, and in general how does he conduct himself and put in his time during the term of his official residence in the Dominion ?

The Governors-General of Canada since Confederation, which may fit-

tingly be termed the birthday of the Dominion, have been Viscount Monck, Lord Lisgar, The Earl of Duff erin, The Marquis of Lome, The Marquis of Lansclowne, Lord Stanley of Preston, afterwards the Earl of Derby, The Earl of Aberdeen, and The Earl of Minto. The present incumbent is the Right Honorable Sir Albert Henry George, Earl Grey, who was appointed in September, 1904, and sworn in as administrator on December iotli of the same year. In the natural course of events he would have followed the precedent established by his predecessors, with the exception of Lord Dufferin and Lord Minto, and retired after holding office for five of the six years of his appointment. Plis tenure of Rideau Plall was sometime ago extended another year, making the full term, which is a strong compliment to his personal qualifications for the office and an appreciation of his splendid wtork in connection with the Quebec Tercentenary celebration and other occasions wherein he has done much to solidify Canadian national life.

A reference to the staff, who assist Iiis Excellency in his administrative and social duties is interesting. In personnel, it consists of the Secretary to His Excellency and Military Secretary, Sir John Hanbury-Williams; the Aides-de-camp, Captain Newton, Duke of Cambridge Own, Middlesex Regiment ; Lieut. Viscount Lascelles, late Grenadier Guards, and Captain Fife, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps; the Comptroller of the Household, Mr. C. Leveson-Gower; His Excellency’s Private-Secretary, Arthur F. Sladen; Assistant Secretary, Chas. Jones, I.S.O., and civil service clerks, Messrs. Walker and Periera. The official duties of Sir John HanburyWilliams, who has an office in the East Block adjoining that of the Governor-General, are to supervise and reply to all official and military communcations, foreign despatches and correspondence, and other matters of an executive and diplomatic character. The Private Secretary to His Excellency, Mr. Sladen. in conjunction with Sir John has charge of the regular mail matter and acts in both an advisory and confidential capacity. For instance, many invitations are daily received asking the Governor-General to lay corner stones, to open public buildings, hospitals and charitable institutions in various cities and towns, to attend important educational. scientific, historical and other gatherings, to officially inaugurate fall fairs, to visit different centres on the occasion of old boys’ reunions or local celebrations, to address Canadian clubs, to be present at convocation exercises of colleges and univei sities, and to preside at manv other functions. Whether or not the representative of the Crown accepts depends largely upon the nature and character of previous appointments. All these and other relative matters are carefullv weighed and all necessary information presented by the secretare

when the invitation is laid before the Governor-General. A social calendar is kept by the secretary. The dates for the present and many months ahead have to be consulted and His Excellency acquainted with what engagements he already has in hand. It then rests with him as to his compliance or otherwise with the requests. Decisions are not hastily reached, as many things have to be taken into consideration. Sometimes the date mentioned is too far distant for a definite answer to be given. However, once accepted an engagement becomes a fixture, the day on the diary is marked off and nothing is allowed to interfere with the arrangement for that occasion. If the affair is an out-of-town one all necessary details for the itineracy, transportation, etc., are made by the Comptroller.

There are certain fixed social functions, which precept and tradition declare as inviolable obligations on the part of a Governor-General. These constitute a list of gayeties that invariably come off at Rideau Hall during a session of parliament. Among these are the State Dinner—on the King's birthday, the drawing room in the Senate Chamber at the opening of parliament, a State ball held usually in the month of May and His Excellency’s levee on New Year's Day. Then there are dances at Christmas time, skating and tobogganing parties every Saturday afternoon in the winter season, dinners and otlier brilliant entertainments. The number of musical and dramatic events held under “Vice-Regal Patronage” is almost appalling. This rather formidable roll of festivities constitutes only a comparatively unimportant part of gubernatorial obligations, or. perhaps, business would be a more applicable term. Tt is not alone in the Capital that the Governor-General entertains. Montreal. Toronto. Quebec and other cities have claims upon his consideration. Twice a year he usually spends several weeks in Canada’s commercial metropolis occupying the handsome residence of Lord Strathcona where receptions and dinners are held aplenty. A house is generally taken in Toronto during the spring meet of the Dntario Jockey Club when Their Excellencies are at home to hundreds and visit institutions of learning, public charities and places of interest. The Citadel at Quebec is often the temporary abode of the representatives of royalty and the scene of much hospitality on their part. \\ hen the ,Vice-Regal court is transferred to any of these cities the staff and several attaches of the household are necessarily included. it may incidentally be observed that the expense of this constant round of social attractions—at the Capital and other cities—is personally borne by the Governor-General. Not a dollar comes out of the national exchequer.

Regarding the patronage of entertainments this is, of course, quite voluntary. As a general rule. Their Excellencies give their patronage to any concert, recital or dramatic performance of a deserving charity, or to any talented professional or amateur artists of any kind. In doubtful cases patronage is not given. It is, however, often extended when Their Excellencies cannot be present. By this is meant that patronage does not imply they will be there in person, but it does mean that they approve and encourage the object or character of the enterprise, with the inevitable result that the attendance and interest are invariably increased.

When a Governor-General leaves Canada, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, at once become the Administrator and a proclamation is issued to that effect vesting him with all the necessary power and authority to serve in his stead. The Administrator receives one-quarter of the gubernatorial salarv. the other three parts going to the Governor-General. At one time it was the Commander of Mis Majestv’s forces in British North America who acted as Administrator in the absence of a Governor, but as he was at Halifax, this frequently caused considerable

inconvenience. Several years ago this was changed and now it is always the Chief Justice of Canada who is entrusted with the duties. Should the Chief Justice be absent then the Justice, who takes his place as head of the Supreme Court acts. It is not considered bon gout for one lovernorGeneral, at the expiration of his term, to remain in the Capital until his successor arrives. They generally pass on the ocean unless the departing one reaches England before the new occupant of Government House sets sail.

The duties of the aides-de-camp are largelv of a social character. Once a date is fixed for any function, sending out the invitations, assisting in the reception of guests and looking after their comforts are solely in the hands of these gentlemen. All preliminaries and formal arrangements are carried out by them. Whenever Their Excellencies attend a musical or dramatic entertainment, public ceremonial or private reception, one or more of the A. D. C.'s is in attendance. Their presence at any function is considered desirable. They accompany Vice-Royalty on practically all visits and tours, adjust all details as to the hour of arrival and departure, the part the distinguished visitors take in the proceedings and give attention to many other matters of moment. 1 he Comptroller of the Household has complete charge of all internal affairs, expenditures, servants and other arrangements. He is really the business manager of Rideau Hall.

With respect to official dress, at the opening and closing of parliament, and at all state functions, the personal representative of His Majesty wears the first class of the Civil uniform, which is worn in Canada only by a GovernorGeneral and the members of the Imperial Privv Council. The Military Secretare and “the aides” wear the uniform of their respective regiments on all State occasions and the Private Secretary wears the fifth class Civil uniform. At less pretentious affairs the members of the staff are distinguished by the colored facings on their evening coats, which, in the case of the present regime are light blue.

Outside of the social customs and courtesies traditional to his office a Governor-General has many affairs of State to attend to, and the present occupant has proved a worthy and eminently qualified successor of the able men who have preceded him. He closely identified himself with the welfare and interest of the Canadian people. He has visited every one of the nine provinces of the Dominion and made himself thoroughly acquainted with the person in every walk and condition of life and with the country, its rich resources and extensive expansion. His addresses on all occasions are marked by earnestness, optimism, thoughtfulness and practical common sense. They are no mere platitudes, no meaningless deliveries, but are of a character that reveal the capacity, faith and shrewd insight of the man. His Excellency

is an industrious reader of both English and Canadian journals. All mediums bearing on the topics of the day, as well as history, biography, works of travel and discovery, are constantly consulted. An early riser, he often begins the day by reading a few minutes in bed. lie gets up at eight o'clock and breakfasts at nine, but frequently dictates some letters before partaking of the morning meal. In his large private room at the northeast angle of Rideau Hall he spends a busy forenoon in company with his secretaries—first with Sir John Hanbury-Williams and then Air. Arthur Sladen—oftimes with both gentlemen. Foreign despatches, parliamentary communications, ordersin-council, and other official documents are there in abundance, to which prompt attention must be directed. Then there are epistolary matters of a more personal character which have to be considered. There are letters of every kind, not a few of which are solicitations for subscriptions to various causes and institutions, worthy and unworthy. By the time the nature of all the replies are dictated or indicated mid-day has arrived.

Twice a week when Parliament is in session, the Governor-General comes up to his office in the east block, where he generally sees Ministers, Senators and Members of Parliament. He arrives about twelve o’clock and it is frequently half-past one before he is through. Sometimes he drives from Rideau Hall to the buildings, frequently he makes the journey mounted on one of his fav-

orite saddle horses, and often, if the weather is fine, he walks, for he is a good pedestrian and fond of exercise. Occasionally he lunches at the Rideau Club, but generally under his own roof. In the afternoons he drives, rides or attends some public function—and there are many of them in Ottawa. His Excellency is a frequent visitor to the Geological Survey building, the National Museum, Art Gallery, Archives, and other places of interest. In the winter he skis, snowshoes or curls, and between these pastimes and pursuits he reads. In the summer he plays golf, cricket, and does not disdain a game of lawn bowling. Ide is a good traveler, fond of fishing and an enthusiastic patron of the turf. Rarely has he an evening entirely free. There are dinner parties. entertainments under \ ice-Regal auspices and other fete which people decree a Governor must attend. During an evening he enjoys a good game of billiards or a rubber of bridge, and usually retires about eleven o’clock.

He is often in consultation with the First Minister and other members of the Cabinet, discussing important affairs of state, public policy, or diplomatic relations, and offering suggestions and counsel to his advisors. Above all things, Earl Grey is no mere figurehead. Cabinet Ministers, as perhaps no one else, well know this.

All distinguished visitors to the hap oil are invited to Rideau Hail. Seldom does a week pass without some illustrious stranger being entertained under its roof and there is oftimes a house party besides. Practically all strangers, eminent in affairs of Church or State, renowned in scholarship, literature or discovery, spend part if not all of their time during their stay in Ottawa as guests at Government House. Earl Grey takes a deep interest in so many public movements and large undertakings like the Public House trust in England, the cause of social reform, the fight against tuberculosis, the progress of Canadian clubs, the Quebec Battlefields’ fund, by which the historic Plains of Abraham are preserved for the people of Canada for all generations, the improvement of the condition of the working classes, public libraries, hospitals and charities, not to speak of the inauguration and success of his musica1 and dramatic competitions, that he is alwavs anxious to discuss matters with the leaders in any sphere of activitv. His concern in all these things is not merely polite and pcrfunctorv. It is deep-rooted. Personallv, Earl Grev is a genial, kindly and unassuming man, with sufficient reserve of dignitv

to never forget his exalted station, for he rightly entertains high ideals of his office. lie meets the people in a cordial and unaffected manner and neglects no opportunity to be a helpful, useful citizen of Canada.

Comprehensively, this is how a Governor-General earns his salary, and it must be admitted, in view of his -generous hospitalitv in Ottawa and other cities, the liberal scale on which these entertainments are conducted and demands of all kinds made upon one occupying such an important post, that he earns every dollar he receives. It is an open secret that a Governor-General of Canada, unless possessing private means, cannot live on his salary. The precedent set by previous rulers and the elaborate manner in which many of them are carried out, must be lived up to. and Earl Grey is not a rich man. Since the days of Lord Dufferin. the social demands of a Canadian vicerov have been exacting, and to-dav are increasing rather than diminishing. With the rapid growth of Canada in influence and prestige, the development of the country, the increased cost of the necessities, as well as the luxuries of life and the general advance in all lines, it is recognized that a Governor-General on $50.000 a vear salary—even with the other allowances —can scarcely make ends meet.

Many brilliant fetes have been given at Rideau Hall under previous regimes. The famous fancy ball of Lord and Lady Dufferin is still remembered as one of the most spectacular episodes in the gav Canadian Capital. The scene of the ball-room on that memorable occasion is one that never will be forgotten. Next in splendor and magnificance in the social annals of the vice-regal court stands the historic ball given bv the Aberdeens in the Senate chamber. It was a great, intellectual and enjovable event, and served an admirable purpose in that, by the researches in the records »'ll Canadian historv which the arrangement of costumes entailed. Canadians—and particularly those present on that auspicious occasion— were made more familiar with the story and advancement of their own countrv from its earliest period. 1 he dance given in Toronto a few years ago bv the Aberdeens is reported to have cost the Earl no less titan $15,000, and this function was by no means as gorgeous as some others carried out under their auspices. \\ hile the tone and color of entertainments mav differ according to the taste, inclinations and wealth of the occupants of Government House, there is a list of gayeties, receptions, levees, dinners and parties that have always held sway at the vice-regal residence in Ottawa, and for which a GovernorGeneral must bear all the expense out of his salary. One gets an insight into the pursuits and predilections ot these great men on hearing that the toboggan slide and curling rink on the grounds were put up by Lord Dufferin, the racquet court by the Marquess of Lome, and the chapel by Lord Aberdeen.

It is safe to say that, in the last thirty or thirty-five years, no Governor-General has left Rideau Hall at the expiration of his term who has not departed from $40.000 to $60.000 poorer in pocket than when he took the oath of office. The strain on his purse is far greater than he perhaps anticipated, but he has always bravely stuck to his post and has not been known to make complaint that the allowance was not ample. It will thus be seen that the pathway of a Governor-General is not always of a primrose character, but that he has exactions and demands made upon him of which, perhaps, when coming to this country he little dreamed. The Governors-General of Canada since Confederation have generally speaking left behind them the impress of useful, serviceable lives, and on their return to the old land have never lost opportunity to proclaim the praises of the Dominion and to make more widely known its advantages and resources, the development and destiny of the people to whom they have endeared themselves.