Gov. Gen. David Johnston sworn in

Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, have moved into their new residence at Rideau Hall after an installation ceremony for the 28th Governor General on Parliament Hill.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston smiles after signing the oath of office at the installation ceremony of the 28th Governor General of Canada on Parliament Hill on Friday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife, Sharon, moved into their new residence at Rideau Hall after an installation ceremony for the 28th Governor General on Parliament Hill on Friday.

The Johnstons arrived at the official residence shortly after 1 p.m. ET, transported there from Parliament Hill in a horse-drawn carriage purchased by Canada's ninth governor general, Earl Grey, in the early 1900s.

After a royal salute and a quick ride in the carriage with their nine grandchildren, the Johnstons entered the mansion, capping a morning filled with pomp, pageantry and high praise for the man who now holds Canada's highest, and oldest, office.

Outgoing governor general Michaëlle Jean and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond arrive for the installation ceremony on Friday. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

An hour earlier, Johnston took the oath of office within the red walls of the ornate Senate chamber, surrounded by former governors general, former prime ministers and other dignitaries.

"We want to be the smart and caring nation," Johnston said in his first official address. "A society that innovates, embraces its talent and uses the knowledge of each of its citizens to improve the human condition for all.

"When we set our sights together, we can do better and inspire each other to achieve great things."

Johnston used his address to establish the three pillars of his upcoming term: to support families and children, to reinforce learning and innovation, and to encourage philanthropy and volunteerism.

He spoke of his wife, who, after 46 years of marriage, "is still my best friend, my source of inspiration and the wind in my sails."

He also spoke of his daughters, all public servants, saying they taught him everything he knows about life, and he is now following in their footsteps.

New GG sworn in

The National

11 years ago
David Johnston was sworn-in as Canada's 28th representative of the Queen on Friday, the CBC's Laurie Graham reports 3:35

"We are looking forward to meeting Canadian families from all walks of life," Johnston said, with particular mention of those involved in the Canadian Forces, aboriginal families and new Canadians.

His 15-minute address was met with loud applause by those gathered in the Senate Hall, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former governors general Michaëlle Jean and Adrienne Clarkson; former prime ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Joe Clark; and the nine justices of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The ceremony included a variety of musical performances by artists from across Canada, including Newfoundland singer Terry Kelly and Ottawa's Christ Church Cathedral Girls' Choir.

Praise for Jean

"On behalf of the government of Canada and all Canadians, I have the honour and privilege of expressing our enthusiastic congratulations," Harper said at the start of the ceremony.

The prime minister praised Johnston for his "remarkable intelligence and exceptional character," and for his views on service: "not merely an option, it is a duty and obligation of the heart, that honour compels a man to accept."

Harper also extended thanks to Johnston's predecessor, Jean, for her "exemplary mandate of service to Canada, both at home and abroad."

"She has earned the lasting respect and gratitude of the country, and she will be remembered with admiration and affection," he said.

New Governor General


11 years ago
Interview with David Johnston, Canada's incoming governor general 17:33

Johnston and his wife arrived at Parliament Hill  shortly after 10:30 a.m. ET under mostly clear skies. They were greeted outside by Harper, his wife, Laureen, and Senator Marjory LeBreton, the leader of the government in the Senate.

The Johnstons then walked hand in hand through the rotunda of the Centre Block. Going down the great Hall of Honour to the Senate chamber, they stopped to receive white and red roses from representatives of each of the country's 13 provinces and territories.

On their way from Parliament Hill to Rideau Hall after the ceremony, the Johnstons stopped to place the roses — by then wrapped up in a bouquet — at the National War Memorial.

Long list of accomplishments

Johnston has distinguished himself in a long academic career, where he has built a reputation as someone who brings people together. He led Ontario's University of Waterloo as its president and vice-chancellor since 1999.


The CBC's Leslie MacKinnon spoke to David Johnston about his life and ideas as he prepared to be sworn in as Canada's Governor General.  You can view the interview here. (Runs 17:33)

"Here I am at my age of 69 venturing forth from this wonderfully blessed place, the university, for the first time and having a real job, and it's a job in the public service," Johnston told CBC in advance of Friday's ceremony.

Educated at Harvard, Cambridge and Queen's universities, Johnston was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 1998, and he holds 13 honorary degrees.

However, his friends say, Johnston still has the common touch.

"I think what David brings to the role of Governor General is [an] extremely sensitive ability to relate to people of all levels of society," said Ken McLaughlin, the University of Waterloo's official historian and someone who has worked closely with Johnston for years.

What is David Johnston like?


11 years ago
Former University of Toronto president Rob Prichard talks about his friend, new Gov. Gen. David Johnston 4:55

"David is a man of a wide range of backgrounds — what he's achieved he's achieved because of his own talent and skill," said McLaughlin. "But he sees that talent in other people and he inspires them."

Johnston is no stranger to public service. In 1995 he took a leave from McGill University to head up the "No" campaign during the Quebec referendum.

"I guess I was driven by the sense of this marvelous country breaking up," he said.

Gift for Jean

In another development, Harper announced a legacy gift for Jean as she departs.

Harper said the federal government will give $3 million in support of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, a non-profit organization that will promote citizen engagement through the arts and creativity, with an emphasis on young people from underprivileged, rural and northern communities in Canada. 

The government will also match funds raised privately by the foundation, to a maximum of $7 million over a 10-year period.

Selecting a GG


11 years ago
Kevin MacLeod, the Usher of the Black Rod and Canadian secretary to the Queen, talks about the process behind selecting David Johnston as the new Governor General 8:04

Since the 1960s, the federal government has honoured former governors general by backing initiatives they pursued while in office.