I hear that the lieutenant-governor hosts an annual New Year’s Day brunch called a levee
I hear that the lieutenant-governor hosts an annual New Year’s Day brunch called a levee. What’s behind the tradition? Can anyone attend?—Pippa Katz, Forest Hill
The levee originated as Louis XIV’s daily wake-up call, a bizarre ritual in which fawning courtiers gathered round to wash, comb, shave, dress and feed their king. The custom soon spread among other European royals and later—in name, at least—to the colonies. In Canada, the first levee was held in 1646 by the governor of New France, who based its form on an old fur trader’s tradition of holding a simple party with government reps on New Year’s Day (no silly royal frippery here). The custom was carried on post-Confederation by the governors general and lieutenant-governors. Today, the levee is a posh little do held in our lieutenant-governor’s swanky suites in Queen’s Park. It’s open to the public, but don’t worry—James Bartleman has no plans for a ritual shaving.