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Governor General Lord Monck and family on the front steps of Rideau Hall, the governor general's official residence
Photograph of Rideau Hall, September 1918
There has been a governor as resident representative of the Crown in Canada since the tenure of Samuel de Champlain (d. 1635) in seventeenth-century New France. The first governor general of the Dominion of Canada was Sir Charles Stanley Monck, 4th Viscount (1819-1894). Michaëlle Jean, the twenty-seventh person to occupy the office since 1867, will be sworn into office on September 27, 2005.
Before Confederation, colonial governors represented imperial governments and were responsible to colonial ministers. After Confederation, governors general ruled on domestic matters according to the advice of the Canadian prime minister, but followed British policy in foreign relations until the First World War.
Since the appointment of Vincent Massey (1887-1967) in 1952, the governor general has been Canadian rather than British and the office has traditionally alternated between English and French speakers. In each of the provinces, the Crown or executive power is represented by a lieutenant-governor, whose role is similar to that of the governor general. In fact, the appointment of Canada's lieutenant-governors was the first matter addressed by Cabinet and Governor General Monck upon Canada's inception on July 1, 1867.