Ottawa – Last evening, Mayor Jim Watson presented the Key to the City to the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of Canada, at a ceremony at City Hall.
Chief Justice McLachlin is the 17th and longest serving Chief Justice of Canada in Canadian history, the first woman to hold the position of Chief Justice of Canada, and the longest serving current member of the Supreme Court of Canada.
“The Chief Justice has been at the centre of some of the most significant legal decisions in Canada’s history. She is a role model, a leader and a nation builder, whom the city is proud to honour,” said Mayor Watson.
Chief Justice McLachlin spoke of her admiration for Ottawa, where she has lived since she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in April 1989: “Ottawa is a city that cherishes its past and works zealously to honour its heritage. But it is also a city that looks forward, possessed of citizens with honed visions of what the city is and what it can be, and who are prepared to fight passionately for that future. It is this spirit that makes Ottawa an extraordinary and pleasing place, and I am honoured to be a recipient of the key to this wonderful city.”
Also speaking at the ceremony were His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D., Governor General of Canada; and Mr. Don Newman, C.M., LL.D., former senior parliamentary editor for CBC Television, and currently Senior Counsel, Ensight Canada and Navigator Limited.
“The presentation of the Key to the City is a well-deserved honour and is given to the very best of us,” said His Excellency. “Throughout her career, Chief Justice McLachlin has been an inspiration to legal professionals and to many across Canada and the Commonwealth.”
An ornamental key – the Key to the City – is presented to esteemed residents, visitors and others whom the City of Ottawa wishes to honour. This practice has a symbolic meaning evoking medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night. The key symbolizes the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will as a trusted friend of city residents.
Since 1935, 85 individuals and organizations have received the Key to the City of Ottawa. Past individual recipients include Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II), Her Royal Highness Princess Margrietof the Netherlands, author Margaret Atwood, photographers Yousuf and Malak Karsh, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, actress Sandra Oh and Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson.