construction very well received by the Canadians

The construction was followed with much interest and liking by the Ottawa press, and population. Canada was very grateful for the effort accomplished by the French government to endow its representation of a “diplomatic property remarkable for its artistic worth.” Every Canadian was infinitely flattered by the honour bestowed upon their country. The French Canadians saw, in the French initiative, a recognition that touched them.

The placing of the first stone of the Embassy

Placing of the first stone :
July 14th, 1936, the Prime Minister of Canada, William Mackenzie King, laid the first stone of the future legation. The speech he made was very notable. “It was a speech of which the tone, and the terms cut with the current banality of similar demonstrations,” Raymond Brugère wrote to the Ministy of Foreign Affairs. The speech was recaptured in all the press.

- “It is an expression of that friendship and good-will on the part of France towards Canada of which the legation itself is the very embodiment.”
- “The expression of the genius of France in architecture and other forms of art.”
- “Situated, as it will be, on this bank of the Ottawa River, looking out upon the Laurentien Hills in the old province of Québec, and standing about midway between Government House and the Houses of Parliament, it will serve permanently to recall much that Canada owes to France.”

The gold engraved
trowel offered to
the Canadian
Prime Minister

The inauguration :
The property, still unfinished, was officially inaugurated January 4th, 1939. A ball was organised for the occasion. More than 700 people attended the reception. The Governor General, the Prime Minister, and the majority of the members of the government were present. It was a huge success. The press talked of it as an “architectural, and decorative masterpiece.”

- “There is, without a doubt, nothing similar on the continent. Since architecture is often a mirror for a civilisation, the Legation of France in Ottawa reflects the French nation’s degree of intellectual refinement. We can also say that it reflects the sentiments of France for Canada : there was no greater tribute that could have been given to our nation by the Republic." (The Citizen)

- “Today’s ceremony has formed a new link, which will unite us, more intimately, to the motherland, cradle of our civilisation, and home of our culture, which gave us our body, spirit, and life, and to which we have never stopped looking back at fondly. It is an invitation to remain more and more loyal to the civilisation of which we are heirs and guardians, of a soft but strong language, of domestic and religious traditions, of spiritual ideals that were bequeathed upon us, and of which we have the duty, and the mission to perpetuate on this continent, in our national interest, and for the grandeur of Canada, our unique homeland." (Le Droit)

- “It is a very beautiful building.” “After visiting the Diplomatic Hall of France in Ottawa, every Canadian, from whatever culture, will ask themselves the same question : ‘How can a Frenchman not have pride for France? France now has its house on Canadian soil. We want to attach a symbol of friendship and interest, which France has manifested in us, to this Diplomatic Hall, and we also want to see, in it, the desire of the French to reinforce the ties that unite France and Canada, particularly French-Canada. And we hope that once this Hall of France becomes dilapidated, although it is made to last centuries, that the indissoluble friendship here, and in France will last still." (l’Evénement-journal)

- For the Count of Dampierre, the construction of the Embassy “marks an important day in French-Canadian relations.”

Excerpt of a personal letter from Mr. Mackenzie King to Mr. Dampierre :
“I must thank you for this charming and memorable evening, which we will all be proud to discuss for years to come. What impressed me the most was the sentiment that French-Canada had returned home. I had a very clear impression of the sincere joy with which my compatriots of French descent saw the contribution of their race, and of the country of their ancestors affirm themselves to their English, Scottish, and Irish compatriots in a way that allowed them all to realise how fortunate Canada is to possess the different cultures, and influences that make up its national life. I also felt the joy that it was for all to see, symbolised in a reunion such as this one, the happy relations that inspire the ideal that we jointly cherish.”

William Mackenzie King, who already had been present at the placing of the first stone, continued : “It is a very precious prerogative for me to have been so closely associated with France in Canada.”

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