Every important monument or landmark is unique and treasured in its own way. Our canal is the largest outdoor skating rink in the world and we can proudly say we started the Beavertail craze.
Ottawa hotels are also up there on the landmark list, especially the Lord Elgin. And what makes this hotel so exclusive? Its two vital trademark pieces: the busts.
The busts of Lord and Lady Elgin (Governor General of British North America from 1847 ÔÇô 1854) were shipped to the hotel from Lord Elgin in Scotland in 1941 on a warship as a gift. McKenzie King wrote in his letter to Lord Elgin in April 1941:
ÔÇ£I need not tell you that personally I experienced a feeling of real delight when I received your letter. The more I have thought of its generous proposal, and the singular appropriateness of such a gift, the greater has been my feeling of pleasure.ÔÇØ
The Lord Elgin busts sat in this hotel, as intended, from the time of the hotelÔÇÖs opening in July 1941, until they were lent to the NCC in 2003 and remain there to this day. They were borrowed by the NCC for an exhibit, with the promise of returning them to the hotel, but were never returned. Instead, the NCC had replicas made that now stand in our lobby.
Everyone, including Lord Elgin himself, feel the busts should be returned to the hotel ÔÇô their intended home. NCC maintains that Rideau Hall is a safer and more secure location where they will be viewed by many. Realistically, the traffic through the hotel far exceeds that through Rideau Hall. Our guests have loved hearing this story through the years. It is part of our identity ÔÇô our history.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Bring back the busts, or have them stay at Rideau Hall?