CANADIAN GOVERNORS GENERAL OF CANADA
From 1876 to 1952 all of Canada's governor generals were imported English aristocrats of one form or another.
Since 1952, however, they have been local folks appointed by the prime minister. Let's meet them.

The Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey
1952-1959
The Rt. Hon. Georges Vanier
1959-1967
The Rt. Hon. Roland Michener
1967-1974
The Rt. Hon. Jules Legar
1974-1979
The Rt. Hon. Edward Schreyer
1979-1984
The Rt. Hon. Jeanne Sauve
1984-1990
The Rt. Hon. Ramon Hnatyshyn
1990-1995
The Rt. Hon. Romeo LeBlanc
1995-1999
The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson
1999-2005
The Rt. Hon. Michealle Jean
2005-2010
The Rt. Hon. David Johnston
2010-

Detailed Information:

Name
Appointed by
Prime Minister
Term
Length of term
Birth province
Principal Occupation
Birth/death
Vincent Massey St. Laurent (Liberal)
February 28, 1952 -
September 15, 1959
7 years, 6 months, 17 d. Ontario Politician (Liberal) 1887-1967
Georges Vanier Diefenbaker (Conservative)
September 15, 1959 -
March 5, 1967
7 years, 5 months, 21 d. Quebec General, diplomat 1888-1967
Robert Taschereau N/A, automatically assumed office*
March 5, 1967 -
April 17, 1967
1 month, 12 d. Quebec Chief Justice of Canada 1896-1970
Roland Michener Pearson (Liberal)
April 17, 1967 -
January 14, 1974
6 years, 8 months, 28 d. Alberta Politician (Liberal) 1900-1991
Jules Legar Trudeau (Liberal)
January 14, 1974 -
January 22, 1979
5 years, 8 d. Quebec Ambassador 1913-1980
Edward Schreyer Trudeau (Liberal)
January 22, 1979 -
14 May 1984
5 years, 3 months, 23 d. Manitoba Politician (NDP) 1935-
Jeanne Sauve Trudeau (Liberal)
May 14, 1984 -
January 29, 1990
5 years, 8 months, 15 d. Saskatch. Politician (Liberal) 1922-1993
Ramon Hnatyshyn Mulroney (Conservative)
January 29, 1990 -
February 8, 1995
5 years, 7 d. Saskatch. Politician (Conservative) 1934-2002
Romeo LeBlanc Chretien (Liberal)
February 8, 1995 -
October 7, 1999
4 years, 7 months, 30 d. New Bruns. Politician (Liberal) 1927-2009
Adrienne Clarkson Chretien (Liberal)
October 7, 1999 -
September 27, 2005
5 years, 11 months, 20 d. N/A Television show host 1939-
Michaelle Jean Martin (Liberal)
September 27, 2005 -
October 1, 2010
5 years, 3 d. N/A Television show host 1957-
David Johnston Harper (Conservative)
October 1, 2010 -
  Ontario Professor 1941-

*According to the Canadian constitution, when the governor general dies or resigns unexpectedly, his duties are temporarily given to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court until a new GG can be appointed. When Vanier died in office in 1967 Justice Taschereau thus became acting governor general for little over a month.

Minorities
The governor general is supposed to represent the "face of Canada," and as a result the position has repeatedly used as a way in which to elevate various cultural and ethnic minority groups to national prominence. Today, it's almost expected that the governor general will be a minority of some sort. It's also become an established custom to rotate the job between French-Canadians and non-French Canadians.

Name Distinctive characteristics
Massey first native-born Canadian appointed  
Vanier first French-Canadian + French
Michener nothing special  
Legar nothing special + French
Schreyer first western Canadian *  
Sauve first woman + French
Hnatyshyn Ukrainian-Canadian background  
LeBlanc Acadian, first maritime Canadian + French
Clarkson first non-white, first immigrant  
Jean black, immigrant + French
Johnston nothing special  

* Schreyer is almost always celebrated as the first "western Canadian" governor general despite the fact Roland Michener was born in Alberta. I suppose the logic is that since Schreyer proceded to live most of his adult life in the East, he doesn't really count.

Medals
As you can see in the photos above, governor generals like to wear lots of medals. The exact number has fluctated over the years, as some governor generals have earned more in their previous lives than others.

Today, upon assuming office the new GG is given the following five awards. In some cases the governor general himself is the person who actually awards the medal in the first place, if so he is given a special title.

Medal
granted since:
GG's special title / rank:

Order of the Hospital of St. John

1888
Chief Officer

Canadian Forces Decoration

1949
Commander-in-Chief

Order of Canada

1967
Chancellor

Order of Military Meritt

1972
Chancellor

Order of Merit of the Police Forces

2000
Chancellor

Mnemonic
In a recent episode of the Simpsons Bart helps Lisa study her Canadian history by using various snappy mnemonic devices. At one point he gives her one to help her remember the names of Canada's recent Governor Generals. Lo and behold, it actually works. So here it is:

Clowns
love
haircuts,
so
should
Lee
Marvin's
Vallet.
Clarkson
Le Blanc
Hnatyshyn
Sauvé
Schreyer
Léger
Michener
Vanier

Actually it's not perfect. It doesn't include Vincent Massey's name.

FOR MORE INFO
...on the biographies of the governors general, check out my page on governor general cartoons, in which I analyze the GGs based on their portrayal in Canadian editorial cartoons.

Return to Filibuster cartoons