When Lord Durham, with his wife and children, embarked for Canada, in the year 1838, to assume the position of Governor - General of that then disaffected and disunited colony, his friends gave him mournful farewell. The voyage was a formidable undertaking. There were no steamships in those days, and the position was looked upon as a painful exile. It was considered particularly brave of Lady Durham to accompany her husband. They were both fond of music, and the number of musical instruments which they took with them was the subject of some witticisms. People said it was necessary to have music on board "to keep up their spirits," and Sydney Smith remarked, "Don't you know that Durham is going to make overtures to the Canadians?" No one commiserated Lord Grey, the present Governor-general, and Lady Grey when they went out in 1904, for now old feuds have died down and the Dominion is happy, prosperous, united, and loyal.
The position of the wife of the Governor- General of Canada is undoubtedly one of the most agreeable under the Crown. She goes amongst our own kith and kin for the most part; homely, friendly, hardworking people, who give her a right loyal and hearty welcome, and she is received no less warmly by the Canadians of French extraction. Old differences of nationality and religion which kept the two Canadasin perpetual feud in the old days happily have been bridged over. She will find the picturesque French homesteads on the St. Lawrence Rivet and the delightful chivalry of the scions of the old French families a most agreeable element in her official life.
Lady Grey, wife of Lord Grey, Governor-general of Canada. Lady Grey, whose kindly, gracious, manner has endeared her to all classes in the Dominion, is an ardent co-operator with her husband in all useful schemes
The very name of the Citadel of Quebec brings to mind stirring historic scenes. Though taken possession of by the French in 1525, the first Canadian colony, Quebec, Was not actually founded until 1608-9. The British forces under General Wolfe captured it in 1759, and the rest of Canada was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris, 1763, and provision made for the government of the colony.
It was later divided into Upper Canada (now Ontario) and Lower Canada (now Quebec). The latter retained the French characteristics of the original settlers, and the "Canadas" were practically two nations under one flag. They Were united in 1840, and eventually, in 1869, were, with the other provinces of British North America, formed into the Dominion of Canada.
It has its own Parliament, is ruled for the Crown by a Governor-general, and each province has a Lieutenant-governor, and a local House of legislature. That settlement was the result of the policy first advocated by Lord Durham. His wife also claims recognition for the pacific part which she played as the wife of the Governor-general during the most critical period of Canadian history.
Lady Durham was on the platform beside her husband at that historic meeting in Quebec, the largest political assembly ever held in Canada, when he read the Proclamation setting forth the policy for the government of the colony which he proposed to suggest to his government at home. Amidst suppressed excitement an address of confidence in Lord Durham was signed by some 5,000 representative Canadians. He had found the colony in rebellion, With the French and British settlers in constant feud, and thought that a remedy might be arrived at by giving Canada self-government. Lord Melbourne's Ministry did not approve his policy, and Lord Durham returned home to tender his resignation.
"Little did I imagine," wrote Lady Durham, in her journal, "that I should ever feel regret on returning home." She had grown to love the Canadians, French and British alike, and had struck the true note for a Governor-general's wife by trying to understand the colonial point of view.
Sad, indeed, Was the homeward voyage, with hopes frustrated and her husband ill with fever. Lord Durham did not long survive his return, and Lady Durham died sixteen months after him. She Was a valued friend of Queen Victoria, but resigned her position in the young Queen's household because of the presence of Lord Melbourne, who had failed to support her husband's policy for the pacification of Canad
To-day all is smooth sailing for the wife of the Governor-general of the great Dominion, which is ever forming new provinces out of the limitless prairies of the far North -West. So rapid is the growth that each successive holder of the position has extend interests to appeal to her.
Her Excellency has her first experience of Canada at Quebee, where the Governor-general is sworn in and receives various addresses. The drive through the Old Town fills her with admiration, and by the time she has sailed from Quebec up the St. Lawrence to Ottawa, to take up her abode at Government House, she probably longs for nothing to do but to write a descriptive journal, sketch, and take photographs, so magnificent are the views. In this first journey she gains an insight into the French element of Canadian life.
Mideau Hall, the official residence at Ottawa, presents solid British comfort rather than picturesque appearance. It is close to the fine Parliament Houses, and the Governor-general's wife finds herself accorded an unexpected privilege - she may listen to a debate in Parliament, but her husband may not. A scat for her Excellency is provided on the floor of the House next to that of the Speaker, and she may remain even to an all-night sitting.