Ray Hnatyshyn

Ramon John Hnatyshyn (Ukrainian: Роман Гнатишин Roman Hnatyshyn) PC CC CMM CD QC (Can) QC (Sask) FRHSC(hon) (/nəˈtɪʃən/; March 16, 1934  December 18, 2002), commonly known as Ray Hnatyshyn, was a Canadian statesman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 24th since Canadian Confederation.

Ray Hnatyshyn

PC CC CMM CD QC(Can) QC(Sask) FRHSC(hon)
24th Governor General of Canada
In office
January 29, 1990  February 8, 1995
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime Minister
Preceded byJeanne Sauvé
Succeeded byRoméo LeBlanc
Personal details
Ramon John Hnatyshyn

(1934-03-16)March 16, 1934
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
DiedDecember 18, 2002(2002-12-18) (aged 68)
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Spouse(s)Gerda Hnatyshyn
Alma materUniversity of Saskatchewan
OccupationPolitician, lawyer

Hnatyshyn was born and educated in Saskatchewan and served in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets prior to being elected to the House of Commons in 1974, whereafter he served as a minister of the Crown in two non-successive governments until 1988. He was in 1989 appointed as governor general by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, to replace Jeanne Mathilde Sauvé as viceroy, and he occupied the post until succeeded by Roméo LeBlanc in 1995. As the Queen's representative, Hnatyshyn proved to be a populist, reversing some exclusive policies of his predecessor, such as opening up Rideau Hall to ordinary Canadians and tourists alike, and was praised for raising the stature of Ukrainian Canadians.

On June 4, 1979, Hnatyshyn was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.[1] He subsequently practised law and sat as Chancellor of Carleton University before dying of pancreatitis on December 18, 2002.

Youth and political career

Hnatyshyn, a Ukrainian Canadian, was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to Helen Hnatyshyn and her husband, John, whose political links and friendship with John Diefenbaker, the future prime minister, would provide his son with frequent exposure to high-calibre political debate.[2] Hnatyshyn attended Victoria Public School and Nutana Collegiate Institute, and enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, where he was a member of 107 Spitfire Squadron in Saskatoon. After graduation from high school, went on to attend the University of Saskatchewan, earning there in 1954 a Bachelor of Arts and, two years later, a Bachelor of Law. On January 9, 1960, Hnatyshyn married Karen Gerda Nygaard Andreasen, eventually having and raising two sons with her.[3]

Two years after he was called to the bar of Saskatchewan in 1957, Hnatyshyn's family moved to Ottawa upon his father being summoned to the Senate. There, Hnatyshyn worked for his father's law firm while also lecturing at the University of Saskatchewan's College of Law.[2] However, he eventually set these jobs aside in order to make a successful bid as a Progressive Conservative Party candidate in the 1974 federal election from Saskatoon—Biggar in the House of Commons.[3] When that seat was abolished ahead of the 1979 election, Hnatyshyn followed most of his constituents into Saskatoon West for another two terms. Saskatoon West was abolished before the election of 1988, and Hnatshyn attempted to follow most of his constituents into Saskatoon—Clark's Crossing, but lost to New Democratic Party challenger Chris Axworthy.

During his time in Parliament, he was appointed first, on April 2, 1979, to the Cabinet chaired by Joe Clark (as Minister of Energy, Mines, and Resources), and then to that headed by Brian Mulroney (as Minister of Justice) on June 30, 1986, the same year he was called to the bar of Ontario.

Governor General of Canada

It was on December 14, 1989, that Queen Elizabeth II had, by commission under the royal sign-manual and Great Seal of Canada, appointed Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's choice of Hnatyshyn to succeed Jeanne Sauvé as the Queen's representative. He was subsequently sworn-in during a ceremony in the Senate chamber on January 29, 1990.[4]

Hnatyshyn thereafter made an effort to open up Rideau Hall—the monarch's and governor general's residence in Ottawa[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]—to the public, establishing a visitors' centre and initiating guided tours of the palace and the royal park in which it sits. These moves marked a complete reversal of the policies of Hnatyshyn's predecessor, who had closed Rideau Hall to the general public. In 1991, Hnatyshyn staged on the grounds the first of the annual Governor General's Summer Concert Series and, the year after, mounted His Excellency's Most Excellent Rock Concert and re-opened the skating rink to the public. These events blended with some of Hnatyshyn's self-imposed mandates during his viceregal tenure, which included a desire to engage Canadian youth and focus attention on education and to encourage the arts. In these veins, he established in 1992 the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Arts, and the Governor General's Flight For Freedom Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literacy. Further, he founded the International Council for Canadian Studies, the Governor General Ramon John Hnatyshyn Education Fund, the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Law, and the Governor General's International Award for Canadian Studies.[3]

Among numerous other official and ceremonial duties, the Governor General presided over celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of Confederation[2] and welcomed to Rideau Hall the Prince and Princess of Wales, along with a host of foreign dignitaries such as President of Russia Boris Yeltsin and King Hussein and Queen Noor of Jordan. Further, Hnatyshyn undertook a number of state visits, including one to Ukraine,[3] before his time serving at Her Majesty's pleasure ended on February 6, 1995.

Throughout his tenure as the Canadian viceroy, Hnatyshyn was both defended and criticised by the Monarchist League of Canada. In their final summary of Hnatyshyn's years in office, though, the former governor general was generally viewed to have not stood up for the Canadian Crown that he represented, choosing to follow, instead of Vincent Massey's example, that of Sauvé, who was herself seen as a republican. This lack of loyalty, it was argued, left Hnatyshyn with few defenders when he was targeted by members of the Reform Party for his salary and taxes.[8] It was thought by John Pepall that Hnatyshyn's name had been selected by Mulroney to put forward to the Queen for appointment as governor general because Hnatyshyn, who had just recently been a member of the Cabinet headed by Mulroney until losing his parliamentary seat in the 1988 election, was someone Mulroney could "hardly feel any deference for", allowing Mulroney to continue to show the "juvenile extreme of the politician's craving for publicity and centre stage" he had while Jeanne Sauvé was governor general.[12]

Post viceregal career and death

After his departure from Government House, Hnatyshyn returned to practicing law at the firm of Gowling, Strathy & Henderson, where he had previously worked between 1989 and 1990. In 2002 he was installed as Chancellor of Carleton University in Ottawa, however, only months later, shortly before Christmas, Hnatyshyn died of pancreatitis. Per tradition, and with the consent of his family, Hnatyshyn lay in state for two days in the Senate chamber, and, though he was Ukrainian Orthodox, he was commemorated in his state funeral in a multi-faith ceremony on December 23, 2002, at Ottawa's Christ Church Cathedral. The service included the funeral rite of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—officiated by Archbishop Yurij, Bishop of Toronto, and the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church—and a eulogy from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's chief correspondent, Peter Mansbridge,[13] and Adrienne Clarkson, by that time the sitting governor general, paid tribute to one of her predecessors via video, as she and her husband were en route to spend Christmas with Canadian troops stationed in the Persian Gulf.[14] Hnatyshyn was then buried at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa.

Various memorials followed Hnatyshyn's death: On March 16, 2004, Canada Post unveiled at a ceremony, attended by Hnatyshyn's widow, a $0.49 postage stamp designed by Vancouver graphic artist Susan Mavor, and bearing the formal portrait of Hnatyshyn taken by Canadian Press photographer Paul Chaisson on the day Hnatyshyn became governor general, along with a tone-on-tone rendering of part of Hnatyshyn's coat of arms. Two years later, a 48-minute documentary DVD examining the life of Hnatyshyn, A Man for all Canadians was released in Canada by IKOR Film.[15]

Titles, styles, honours, and arms


Viceregal styles of
Ramon J. Hnatyshyn
Reference styleHis Excellency the Right Honourable
Son Excellence le très honorable
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Votre Excellence
  • June 4, 1979 – January 29, 1990: The Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn
  • January 29, 1990 – February 8, 1995: His Excellency the Right Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada
  • February 8, 1995 – December 18, 2002: The Right Honourable Ramon Hnatyshyn


Ribbon bars of Ray Hnatyshyn
Foreign honours

Honorary military appointments

Honorary degrees


Honorific eponyms

  •  Canada: Ramon John Hnatyshyn Cup
  •  Canada: Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Law[17]
  •  Canada: Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Arts


Coat of arms of Ray Hnatyshyn
Just prior to his installation as Governor General, Hnatyshyn was granted a personal coat of arms that depicted his Ukrainian and Canadian roots.
January 16, 1990
A lion all Gules charged with a maple leaf Argent and bearing scales all Or
Or charged with a lion passant guardant Azure and holding in the dexter paw a heart Gules, chief Azure charged with a lion passant guardant Or imperially crowned proper and holding in the dexter paw a maple leaf Gules
Party per fess Azure and Or and accorné and unguled Azure, dexter a deer gorged with a collar Or pendant therefrom a plate Sable surmounted by the Crest of the House of Commons, sinister a bull gorged with a collar Argent and Sable pendant therefrom a Prairie Lily Gules charged with a Ukrainian trident (tryzub) proper
A mound set dexter with conifers Vert, sinister with base tapissé of wheat Or, all issuant from barry wavy Azure and Argent
(Moderation in all things)
The ribbon and insignia of a Companion of the Order of Canada.
(They desire a better country)
The colours and split division of the shield and supporters harkens to the flag of Ukraine, where Hnatyshyn's family originated. In the shield, the viceregal lion recalls Hnatyshyn's appointment as the Queen's representative, and the lion below is drawn from the coat of arms of Denmark, where Hnatyshyn's wife's father was from. The red lion comes from the coat of arms of Saskatchewan, where Hnatyshyn was born, the two maple leaves on the lion's shoulders (one visible) represents Hnatyshyn's two sons, and the scales it holds recall Hnatyshyn's profession as a lawyer.

The deer is the same, in form, as that on the coat of arms of Saskatchewan, and the badge on its medallion is that of the House of Commons, where Hnatyshyn sat as a Member of Parliament. The bull is a symbol of Bukovina, where Hnatyshyn's parents were born, and from its collar hangs an emblem that links Saskatchewan's official flower—the prairie lily—with the trident of the Ukrainian coat of arms—a symbol of the Ukrainian people for more than 1,000 years.[33]


  1. Privy Council Office (October 30, 2008), Information Resources > Current Chronological List of Members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada > 1971-1980, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved March 2, 2009
  2. Bowman, John, Indepth Backgrounder: Ramon John Hnatyshyn, CBC, retrieved March 5, 2009
  3. Office of the Governor General of Canada, Role and Responsibilities > Former Governors General > The Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved February 4, 2010
  4. http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1661516983
  5. Galbraith, William (1989), "Fiftieth Anniversary of the 1939 Royal Visit", Canadian Parliamentary Review, Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, 12 (3), archived from the original on December 5, 2012, retrieved February 20, 2009
  6. Aimers, John (April 1996), "The Palace on the Rideau", Monarchy Canada, Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada (Spring 1996), archived from the original on 2009-01-31, retrieved February 20, 2009
  7. Lanctot, Gustave (1964), Royal Tour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in Canada and the United States of America 1939, Toronto: E.P. Taylor Foundation, ASIN B0006EB752
  8. Toffoli, Gary (April 1995), "The Hnatyshyn Years", Monarchy Canada, Toronto: Monarchist League of Canada (Spring 1995), archived from the original on 2009-06-18, retrieved February 20, 2009
  9. MacLeod, Kevin S. (2008), A Crown of Maples (PDF) (1 ed.), Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 34, ISBN 978-0-662-46012-1
  10. MacLeod 2008, p. XIV
  11. Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Gary (2002), Fifty Years the Queen, Toronto: Dundurn Press, pp. 10, 27, ISBN 1-55002-360-8
  12. Pepall, John (1 March 1990). "Who is the Governor General?". The Idler. Toronto. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  13. "Special coverage of the state funeral for former governor general Ray Hnatyshyn (Peter Mansbridge segment)". CBC News. Season 2002–2003. December 23, 2002, 1 pm. Retrieved March 4, 2009. Check date values in: |= (help)
  14. "Special coverage of the state funeral for former governor general Ray Hnatyshyn (Adrienne Clarkson segment)". CBC News. Season 2002-2003. December 23, 2002, 1 pm. Retrieved March 4, 2009. Check date values in: |= (help)
  15. A Man for all Canadians, Rogers Media, retrieved February 5, 2010
  16. Programs > Nation Builders > 2004 > Awards Recipients for 2004 > The Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.D., Q.C., Ukrainian Canadian Congress, archived from the original on March 31, 2010, retrieved March 4, 2009
  17. Who We Are > Our Founder, The Hnatyshyn Foundation, archived from the original on February 1, 2013, retrieved February 3, 2010
  18. Office of the Governor General of Canada, Honours > Order of Canada > Search: Order of Canada Membership List > Ramon John Hnatyshyn, P.C., C.C., C.M.M., C.D., B.A., LL.B., Q.C., Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved September 5, 2010
  19. Office of the Governor General of Canada, Honours > Order of Military Merit, Queen's Printer for Canada, archived from the original on September 30, 2007, retrieved March 4, 2009
  20. Office of the Governor General of Canada, Honours > Insignia Worn by the Governor General, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved March 4, 2009
  21. University of Saskatchewan Archives > University History > Honorary degree recipients, University of Saskatchewan, retrieved March 4, 2009
  22. https://www.rmc-cmr.ca/en/royal-military-college-canada-honorary-degree-recipients
  23. HONORARY DEGREES (PDF), Queen's University, December 15, 2008, archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2009, retrieved March 7, 2009
  24. https://www.uottawa.ca/president/people/hnatyshyn-ramon-john
  25. https://carleton.ca/senate/honorary-degree-guidelines-and-nominations/honorary-degrees-awarded-since-1954/
  26. https://mcgill.ca/senate/files/senate/list_of_mcgill_honorary_degree_recipients_from_1935_to_fall_2018.pdf
  27. http://umanitoba.ca/admin/governance/senate/hdr/1047.html
  28. "Over 500 Degrees to be Conferred" (Press release). Memorial University of Newfoundland. October 20, 1994. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  29. University of Alberta Senate > Honorary Degrees > Past Honorary Degree Recipients > H, University of Alberta, archived from the original on May 27, 2011, retrieved April 28, 2009
  30. "2005 Honorary Degree Recipients Named" (Press release). University of Northern British Columbia. April 21, 2005. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  31. https://www.unbc.ca/convocation/honorary-degree-recipients
  32. https://lso.ca/about-lso/medals-awards-and-honours/honorary-lld
  33. Office of the Governor General of Canada, Heraldry > Emblems of Canada and of Government House > Symbols of Past Governors General > Symbolism of the Armorial Bearings of the Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved March 4, 2009
Government offices
Preceded by
Jeanne Sauvé
Governor General of Canada
January 29, 1990 – February 8, 1995
Succeeded by
Roméo LeBlanc
Political offices
21st Ministry – Cabinet of Joe Clark
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Alastair Gillespie Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources
June 4, 1979  March 3, 1980
Marc Lalonde
24th Ministry – Cabinet of Brian Mulroney
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
John Crosbie Minister of Justice
June 30, 1986  December 7, 1988
Joe Clark (acting)
Erik Nielsen President of the Privy Council
February 27, 1985  June 30, 1986
Don Mazankowski
Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
New electoral district
Member of Parliament for Saskatoon West
May 22, 1979  November 21, 1988
Succeeded by
Electoral district abolished
Preceded by
Alfred Gleave
Member of Parliament for Saskatoon—Biggar
July 8, 1974  May 22, 1979
Succeeded by
Electoral district abolished
Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Kroeger
Chancellor of Carleton University
Succeeded by
Marc Garneau
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