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Canadian History for Kids: Lord Dufferin

1872, June 25 – Lord Dufferin takes office as Canada’s Governor General.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive looks at an amazing Governor General, Lord Dufferin.

Lord Dufferin may be the first ‘rock star’ amongst Canadian Governor Generals! He became Canada’s 3dr Governor General in 1872.

Lord Dufferin served as Governor General of Canada during a period of rapid change in Canadian history.

During his term, Prince Edward Island was admitted to Confederation, and several well-known Canadian institutions, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Royal Military College of Canada, and the Intercolonial Railway, were established.

Lord Dufferin concentrated on promoting Canadian unity and travelled to every province, seeking contact with as many Canadians as possible. He was at ease speaking with a wide variety of people, whether addressing the National Club in English in Toronto, la societé de St-Jean le baptiste in French in Montreal, or speaking with residents of Icelandic settlements in Manitoba and labourers in British Columbia.

As an orator and writer, Lord Dufferin also closely followed political debate in Parliament, although as Governor General he was not permitted inside the House of Commons. Instead, Lady Dufferin often attended the debates and reported back to him. He did, however, established an office of the Governor General in the east wing of the Parliament buildings.

Lord Dufferin believed in recognizing excellence among Canadians, in 1873 he established the Governor General’s Academic Medals for superior academic achievement by Canadian students – awards that continue to be given out in high schools, colleges and universities to this day.

Also that same year, the Governor General’s Match for shooting was created, and the Governor General’s Curling Trophy for the Royal Caledonian Curling Club was established the following year.

Lord Dufferin contributed $1,624.95 of his own money to build a skating rink, curling rink and toboggan slide at Rideau Hall in 1872-73. These were available to the public on the condition that people “were properly dressed”.

Lady Dufferin was very active during her husband’s term as Governor General. She was the first spouse to accompany the Governor General on a tour, visiting southern Ontario in 1872. By the end of their term, she had visited every province with her husband. During a trip to Manitoba in September 1877, Lord and Lady Dufferin each drove a spike in the line of what would become the Canadian Pacific Railway.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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