Rideau Hall is, since 1867, the official residence in Ottawa of both the Canadian monarch and the Governor General of Canada.[It stands in Canada’s capital on 88 acre estate at 1 Sussex Drive, with the main building consisting of 170 rooms and 24 outbuildings around the grounds.
Most of Rideau Hall is used for state affairs, only 5,400 ft of its area being dedicated to private living quarters, while additional areas serve as the offices of the Canadian Heraldic Authority and the principal workplace of the governor general and his or her staff — either the term Rideau Hall, as a or the formal idiom Government House is employed to refer to this bureaucratic branch. Officially received at the palace are foreign heads of state, both incoming and outgoing ambassadors and high commissioners to Canada, and Canadian crown ministers for audiences with either the viceroy or the sovereign, should the latter be in residence. Rideau Hall is likewise the location of many Canadian award presentations and investitures, where prime ministers and other members of cabinet are sworn in, and where federal writs of election are dropped, amongst other ceremonial and constitutional functions. The house is open to the public for guided tours throughout the year; approximately 200,000 visitors tour Rideau Hall annually.11
Rideau Hall and the surrounding grounds were designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1977.
The site of Rideau Hall and the original structure were chosen and built by stonemason Thomas McKay, who immigrated from Perth, Scotland to Montreal, Lower Canada, in 1817, and who later became the main contractor involved in the construction of the Rideau Canal. Following the completion of the canal, McKay built mills at Rideau Falls, making him the founder of New Edinburgh, the original settlement of Ottawa. With his newly acquired wealth, McKay purchased the site overlooking both the Ottawa and Rideau Rivers, and built a stone villa where he and his family lived until 1855, and which became the root of the present day Rideau Hall.