Elizabeth Dowdeswell

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Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Elizabeth Dowdeswell, 2017 (cropped).jpg
Elizabeth Dowdeswell in 2017
29th Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
Assumed office
September 23, 2014
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor General
Preceded byDavid Onley
3rd Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme
In office
Secretary-GeneralBoutros Boutros-Ghali
Kofi Annan
Preceded byMostafa Kamal Tolba
Succeeded byKlaus Töpfer
Personal details
Violet Elizabeth Patton

(1944-11-09) November 9, 1944 (age 74)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Alma materUniversity of Saskatchewan
Utah State University

Violet Elizabeth Dowdeswell[1][2] OC OOnt (née Patton, born November 9, 1944) is the current Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the 29th since Canadian Confederation.[3] She is the viceregal representative of the Queen in Right of Ontario.

Early life[edit]

Dowdeswell (née Patton) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, on November 9, 1944, and moved with her family to Canada in 1947, settling in rural Saskatchewan.[4] Her father Desmond Granville Patton (1920–2008) was a United Church of Canada minister.[5] Dowdeswell married at a young age but soon divorced.[5] She attended the University of Saskatchewan and Utah State University and later became a teacher and university lecturer.


Dowdeswell left teaching and entered public service, serving in Saskatchewan as deputy minister of culture and youth during the New Democratic Party government of Allan Blakeney, but was dismissed, along with other deputy ministers, after the Progressive Conservative government of Grant Devine took power in 1982.[5]

She served in the federal public service in the 1980s, serving at one point as assistant deputy minister at Environment Canada with responsibility for the Atmospheric Environment Service and negotiating the Framework Convention on Climate Change. She also led a public inquiry into Canada’s unemployment benefits program and federal water policy.[6]

In 1992, Dowdeswell was unanimously elected to lead the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, serving there until 1998 at the rank of Under-Secretary-General.[7]

From 1998 to 2010, she was an adjunct professor at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health at the University of Toronto, while also serving as founding president and CEO of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. From 2010 until her appointment at Lieutenant Governor, she was the president and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies.

As Lieutenant Governor[edit]

Dowdeswell seated on the Throne during her installation ceremony in 2014

Dowdeswell was appointed Lieutenant Governor by Governor General David Johnston on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who selected Dowdeswell from a shortlist devised by the Advisory Committee on Vice-Regal Appointments. On September 23, 2014, she was sworn in during a ceremony held at Queen's Park in Toronto, during which she addressed members of the Ontario Cabinet, Members of Provincial Parliament, and other guests.[8] She is the third woman to serve the position, following Pauline Mills McGibbon and Hilary Weston.

Breaking with tradition, Dowdeswell declared in her installation address that she would not immediately espouse a particular area of focus during her mandate as Lieutenant Governor. Instead, she set out to engage the people of Ontario, listening to their concerns and ideas.[9] In the time since her installation, she had said that the idea of Ontario in the world, as well as the interconnected themes of sustainability—environmental stewardship, inclusive economic prosperity and innovation, and social and cultural inclusion—have resonated with Ontarians. In addition, Dowdeswell has taken to sharing what she hears during her visits around Ontario, dubbing herself "Storyteller-in-Chief".[10]

In April 2016, Dowdeswell reported having undertaken 1,066 official engagements during the first 18 months of her mandate, an average of 711 per year.[10] As Lieutenant Governor, she has undertaken several missions abroad to the United States and to the United Kingdom.

On September 12, 2016, Dowdeswell read a Speech from the Throne to open the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament of Ontario. It was her first Throne Speech since taking office in September 2014.

Titles, styles, honours, and awards[edit]


Viceregal styles of
Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Badge of the Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.svg
Reference style
  • Her Honour the Honourable
  • Son Honneur l'honorable
Spoken style
  • Your Honour
  • Votre Honneur
  • November 9, 1944 – September 23, 2014: Miss/Ms. Elizabeth Patton
  • September 23, 2014 – : Her Honour the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario

As Lieutenant Governor, Dowdeswell is entitled to be styled Her Honour while in office and The Honourable for life.[11]


Ribbon bar of Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Honorary appointments

Honorary degrees[edit]

Dowdeswell has received several honorary degrees from various Universities in Canada and Europe. These include:

Honorary degrees
Jurisdiction Date School Degree
 Saskatchewan May 25, 1994 University of Saskatchewan Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [14]
 Nova Scotia 1998 Mount Saint Vincent University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [15]
 Ontario Spring 1999 York University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [16]
 British Columbia October 22, 1999 Royal Roads University [17]
 Saskatchewan Spring 2001 University of Regina [18]
 Ontario 2013 University of Ontario Institute of Technology Doctor of Science (D.Sc) [19]
 Ontario June 9, 2015 University of Western Ontario Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [20]


  1. ^ https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/etd/2076/
  2. ^ Queen's Printer for Ontario (2016-04-09). "Proclamation" (PDF). Ontario Gazette. 149 (15): 711. ISSN 0030-2937. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 26, 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-09. THE HONOURABLE V. ELIZABETH DOWDESWELL LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF OUR PROVINCE OF ONTARIO
  3. ^ "Her Honour". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. October 1, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Installation address". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. September 26, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "New lieutenant-governor may surprise Ontarians". Toronto Star. October 1, 2014.
  6. ^ "Newsroom : Biography : Elizabeth Dowdeswell". news.ontario.ca.
  7. ^ "Elizabeth Dowdeswell • Saskatchewan's Environmental Champions".
  8. ^ "Ontario's lieutenant-governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell to be sworn in during fall ceremony". CTV News, July 24, 2014.
  9. ^ "Installation address". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. September 23, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Activity report (September 2014–March 2016)" (PDF). Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. 2016-04-01. Retrieved 2016-04-01.
  11. ^ "Table of titles to be used in Canada". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. June 18, 1993. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  12. ^ "OPP Mess Dinner". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. September 24, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  13. ^ Dowdeswell, Elizabeth, Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada
  14. ^ "Honorary Degrees - University of Saskatchewan". library.usask.ca.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2015-07-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ adove (January 6, 2014). "Fall 1999 Convocation". www.royalroads.ca.
  18. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients - Registrar's Office, University of Regina". www.uregina.ca.
  19. ^ "Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell - UOIT - Honorary degrees 2013". uoit.ca.
  20. ^ University, Department of Communications and Public Affairs, Western (March 19, 2015). "Western News - Honorary degree lineup announced for 305th convocation".

External links[edit]