Elizabeth Dowdeswell

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

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 76)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Alma materUniversity of Saskatchewan
Utah State University

Early lifeEdit

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.[citation needed]


Dowdeswell left teaching and entered public service, working 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 held various positions in the federal public service in the 1980s, working 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 selected to lead the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya, serving a full four-year term and a one-year extension until she resigned in 1998.[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.[citation needed] From 2010 until her appointment at Lieutenant Governor, she was the president and CEO of the Council of Canadian Academies.[citation needed]

As lieutenant governorEdit

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.[8] She is the third woman to serve the position, following Pauline Mills McGibbon and Hilary Weston.

Dowdeswell declared in her installation address that she would not immediately espouse a particular area of focus during her time as lieutenant governor. Instead, she said she would engage the people of Ontario, listening to their concerns and ideas. She has since adopted sustainability and "Ontario in the world" as personal themes. In addition, Dowdeswell has called herself Ontario's unofficial "Storyteller-in-Chief".[9]

According to annual reports published on her office's website, Dowdeswell has conducted, on average, more than 700 public engagements yearly as lieutenant governor, as well as numerous visits abroad to the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Denmark.[10]

Dowdeswell has visited all of Ontario's provincial electoral districts.[11]

Titles, styles, honours, and awardsEdit


As lieutenant governor, Dowdeswell is entitled to be styled Her Honour while in office and The Honourable for life.[12]


Ribbon bar of Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Honorary appointments
Coat of arms of Elizabeth Dowdeswell
Issuant from a circlet of garbs Or and trillium flowers proper, a demi-globe Azure resting thereon a balance Or;
Azure on an oval Argent environed by two branches of laurel Or, a viceroy butterfly volant Purpure embellished Or;
Two doves Argent beaked and legged Or each charged on the wing with an oval Purpure, that to the dexter bearing a Celtic cross, that to the sinister bearing a harp Or, and standing on a grassy mount Vert;
SERVIRE VITÆ IN TERRA (To Serve Life On Earth) [14]

Honorary degreesEdit

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) [15]
  Nova Scotia 1998 Mount Saint Vincent University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL) [16]
  Ontario Spring 1999 York University Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [17]
  British Columbia October 22, 1999 Royal Roads University [18]
  Saskatchewan Spring 2001 University of Regina [19]
  Ontario 2013 University of Ontario Institute of Technology Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) [20]
  Ontario June 9, 2015 University of Western Ontario Doctor of Laws (LL.D) [21]


  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. Archived from the original on December 8, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  4. ^ "Installation address". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. September 26, 2014. Archived from the original on January 6, 2016. 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. ^ Knox, Paul (1997-12-03). "WORLD BUZZ / Environmental apostle awaits the UN's nod. Toepfer tapped for UNEP". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. A14. But Ms. Dowdeswell was granted only a one-year extension when her four-year term expired last Dec. 31.
  8. ^ "Ontario's lieutenant-governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell to be sworn in during fall ceremony". CTV News, July 24, 2014.
  9. ^ "Areas of focus". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
  10. ^ http://www.lgontario.ca/en/news
  11. ^ @lglizdowdeswell (22 August 2019). "As I complete my 5th year as LG, I am inspired by all who have welcomed me to their communities. Today marks my visit to all 124 ridings. Thank you for sharing the places where you work, live, and play. Your stories remind us that we should all be proud to call Ontario home" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  12. ^ "Table of titles to be used in Canada". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. June 18, 1993. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  13. ^ "OPP Mess Dinner". Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. September 24, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  14. ^ Dowdeswell, Elizabeth, Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada
  15. ^ "Honorary Degrees - University of Saskatchewan". library.usask.ca.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2015-07-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ adove (January 6, 2014). "Fall 1999 Convocation". www.royalroads.ca.
  19. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients - Registrar's Office, University of Regina". www.uregina.ca.
  20. ^ "Ms. Elizabeth Dowdeswell - UOIT - Honorary degrees 2013". uoit.ca.
  21. ^ University, Department of Communications and Public Affairs, Western (March 19, 2015). "Western News - Honorary degree lineup announced for 305th convocation".

External linksEdit