Lord Elgin Traditions

Let’s talk about traditions.

Have you ever Googled the meaning of traditions? I did, just out of curiosity it means:

“The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.”


The main reason people love new or ancient traditions is because it gives them the ability to connect and share a memory with each generation. Whether it’d be commercial, political, or a celebration; everyone has a tradition they anticipate.

Traditions can come from your friends, your family, or maybe even your workplace.  They’re part of our culture and when we partake in them, they make us feel proud.

As many of you know, the Lord Elgin Hotel is very proud to be independently owned and operated. For 76 years the elegant Lord Elgin has been situated in the downtown core of Ottawa. This landmark location has allowed the Lord Elgin’s to be shape into its own unique brand. The staff at Lord Elgin represent this brand. The are always recognized as friendly with superb service, but the staff at the Lord Elgin have many of their own traditions they celebrate each year in order to connect with the Ottawa community.

Here are a few of the Lord Elgin Hotel’s traditions:

Tradition One – Loyal Employee

After working 25 years for the Lord Elgin Hotel, an employee will receive a gold watch, as a gift for their loyalty to the company. This tradition has been apart of the Lord Elgin brand for more than 40 years and many employees have taken part in this tradition. In fact we just gave one away not to long ago at our staff BBQ.

Tradition Two – #MyLordElgin Ice Bench Contest

The Lord Elgin Hotel wanted to get in on the fun of Winterlude; thus they created the ice bench photo contest. The contest begins when Winterlude begins. Many Winterlude goers and passersby take photos of the ice bench, which is always situated outside the lovely Grill 41, and then, after posting their picture and connecting it through Instagram, they enter for a chance to win our grand prize! This tradition started 5 years ago, its gained so much popularity that it is now considered a true Elgin tradition.


Tradition Three – Changing of the Guards

On Friday, July 7th, 2017 at 10 a.m the changing of the guards officially starts. The ceremony begins on Parliament Hill at 9:45 a.m. sharp each morning (until August 25), following a march by the Guard from its Cartier Square Drill Hall just south of Parliament Hill and up Elgin Street. The Changing of the Guard began as a morning routine on the Hill in 1959, and turned into an annual tradition for the city. As for the Lord Elgin team, it has been a tradition for 40 years that the Lord Elgin staff on the first day of the parade, we watch the march on the first day from right outside the front entrance.

marching staffMarching

Tradition Four – Late Night Jam Sessions

One of our newest traditions is our Late Night Jam Sessions, which begins tonight, June 22. Grill 41 transforms as live music from local artists and performers from the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival collaborate. Our favourite part about Late Night Jam Sessions is the ability for our guest to bring in their own instrument to jam with these artists! As a new tradition, it is still unique to our brand, which makes it all the more fun for our guests.


Tradition Five – Staff BBQ

Each year we like to honour our staff for their hard work for the year with some sunshine, good food from Grill 41, prizes and lots of fun. The Lord Elgin would not be the brand it is today, without the work from it wonderful team. This tradition has been going on for 5 years.

Staff BBQ 1Staff BBQ2

These are just a few of the traditions the Lord Elgin celebrates. But, each year our team and the Ottawa community look forward to these traditions. Now, let me ask you, do you have any traditions?


Written by:

Social Media Intern

Jazlyn Dunham

Just Who was Lord Elgin?

Almost every time I give a tour of the hotel, people always ask me “just who was Lord Elgin?” This usually happens, just as we are standing in front of his bust that is displayed in our lobby.


Often, I respond that many consider him one of the most important Governor Generals in Canadian History.

There is a still a Lord Elgin today. His name is Andrew Bruce, 11th Earl of Elgin, 15th Earl of Kincardine and he lives on his estate in Scotland.  The hotel is named after his Great Grandfather, James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin and 12th Earl of Kincardine and Governor General of the Province of Canada from 1847 to 1854.

Lord ELgin Man

It was under this Lord Elgin that responsible government came to Canada.  He was the first Governor General to allow the local, elected legislature to govern while he adopted a largely symbolic role.  This was the model for all subsequent Governor Generals and this act alone should put him at the top of the greatest GG list.

Another reason he should be consider one of the top GG is because he also granted royal assent to the Rebellion Losses Bill in 1849 even though he personally had misgivings.  This bill caused riots between the French and English in Montreal and later Bytown, (future Ottawa).  Instead of calling out the militia to put down the riots, Lord Elgin allowed the local civil authorities to respond.  By avoiding what surely would have become a blood-bath, Lord Elgin actions allowed calmer heads to prevail.  Many historians believe using the army to put down the riots would have led to the riots spreading and potentially turning into a rebellion.  Sometimes it takes more courage to walk away than to fight.  And maybe this act of discretion saved the future Canada.

Finally, a very big threat to the very existence of Canada was a push by Canadian based merchants, many of American descent, to join the United States as it was the closest and biggest market for their goods.  In 1854, Lord Elgin negotiated a Reciprocity Treaty (free trade treaty) that removed the need for Canada to join the United States to ensure access to that market.  With easy and open access guaranteed, the impetus to join the US was removed.  Had it not been for this treaty, the economic push to join the US would probably been unstoppable.


Written by:

Senior Sales Manager, Associations & Unions

Andrew Horsfield