When Prince William and his wife Kate visited Canada in 2011 they planted a hemlock tree on the grounds of Rideau Hall, the home of Canada’s Governor-General in Ottawa. It is a tradition that when someone famous visits Rideau Hall they plant a tree. On our visit to Ottawa, we took a tour of Rideau Hall and the park surrounding it and I made some notes about the trees I saw.
There are 150 trees planted by famous visitors on the Rideau Hall grounds. Many of the trees have grown large and their boughs stretch wide and high.
One thing I noticed was many of the people who planted the trees at Rideau Hall had made a positive difference in our world.
I saw a sugar maple planted by Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratically elected president. The anti-apartheid activist spent twenty- seven years in prison and became a worldwide symbol of hope to those fighting for freedom and equality.
Diana, Princess of Wales has a tree in Rideau Hall Park. This popular British royal used her notoriety to draw the attention of the world to the needs of people with AIDS and the victims of land mines.
In July of 2011, when William her son and his wife Kate visited Rideau Hall, they stopped for a few moments of silence beside the tree Diana had planted, just after planting their own tree. Following in the footsteps of Diana’s dedication to public service the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have established a foundation that promotes mental health and wellness.
John F. Kennedy planted a flourishing red oak tree. Kennedy inspired the establishment of the United States Peace Corps. The organization has sent 200,000 volunteers to 140 countries to help those in need.
There’s a tree planted by Kofi Annan of Ghana, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. He won the Nobel Prize for his efforts to bring peace to conflicts in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Nigeria, Libya, East Timor and the Middle East.
Japan’s Emperor Akihito has a tree at Rideau Hall. In 2011 after a tsunami devastated his country he did something no Japanese royal has ever done before. He made a live television appearance to talk to his people to reassure them and give them hope and then he and his wife visited shelters for storm refugees.
Many of the famous people who have planted trees at Rideau Hall have used their lives to serve others, and make a difference in the world.