The fonds consists of documents relating to the personal and professional life of Adrienne Louise Clarkson (née Poy). The fonds includes: documents related to Clarkson's family and personal life; her education; her financial records; her career as a broadcast journalist, including as host of "Take Thirty", "The Fifth Estate", "Adrienne Clarkson's Summer Festival", "Adrienne Clarkson Presents", and "Something Special"; her career as a writer, including published newspaper and magazine articles, books and unpublished short stories and poetry; material from her years as Ontario Agent-General to Paris (1982-1987); her years at McClelland and Stewart (1987-1988); documents related to her tenure as Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (1995-1999); her years spent at Rideau Hall as Canada's Governor General (1999-2005); records related to her activities with many associations; and press coverage. Adrienne Clarkson has received many awards, honorary degrees and medals over her prestigious career and these are reflected in the fonds; these include, amongst others: ACTRA awards, Emmy awards, Gemini awards, le prix Gémeaux, and the Order of Canada.
Clarkson, Adrienne, 1939-: Adrienne Louise Clarkson (née Poy) was born in Hong Kong in 1939. During the Second World War, she and her parents, William and Ethel Poy, and brother, Neville Poy, fled Hong Kong as refugees on the "Asama Maru", arriving in Canada in 1942. The Poy family settled in Ottawa where Adrienne attended public school at York Street, Kent Street and Elgin Street Public Schools. She graduated from high school from Lisgar Collegiate in 1956 and moved to Toronto to attend university. Adrienne Poy graduated from the University of Toronto Trinity College with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English Literature in 1960. She went on to complete her Master of Arts in Literature in 1962. She studied at La Sorbonne in Paris between 1963 and 1964 and, upon her return to Toronto, lectured at the University of Toronto in 1964 and 1965. In 1963 Adrienne Poy married Stephen Clarkson; they had three children. She re-married in 1999 to philosopher and writer John Ralston Saul. In 1965 Clarkson became the book reviewer for CBC's "Take Thirty"; thus beginning her long career in broadcast journalism. Shortly after starting at CBC, Clarkson became the co-host of "Take Thirty" continuing in that role until 1975. Clarkson went on to co-host "The Fifth Estate", a new CBC production, until 1982. During the early years of Clarkson's broadcast career, in 1967, she also became the book reviewer for "Chatelaine" magazine. She also published several books. Her first book, "A Lover More Condoling" was published in 1968, her second, "Hunger Trace", was published in 1970, and "True to You in My Fashion: A Woman Talks to Men about Marriage" was published in 1971. In 1982, Clarkson left broadcasting for several years to undertake the role of Ontario Agent General in France; she had been appointed to the position by Ontario Premier William Davis. Clarkson's role was to promote cultural and business ties between the Province of Ontario and France and, to a lesser extent, other European countries. Upon Clarkson's return to Canada in 1987, she took on the role of president and publisher of McClelland and Stewart until 1988. In 1988, Clarkson was offered the opportunity to host her own show on arts and culture for the CBC. Adrienne Clarkson produced and hosted "Adrienne Clarkson's Summer Festival" in 1988, which became "Adrienne Clarkson Presents" not long after and aired for eleven years until 1999. During the second stage of her broadcasting career at CBC, Adrienne Clarkson was appointed Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Canadian Museum of Civilization and later of the War Museum by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien; she held this position from 1995-1999. In 1999, Adrienne Clarkson was appointed the 26th Governor General of Canada on the advice of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Adrienne Clarkson served as Governor General from October 7, 1999 until September 27, 2005. In 2006, after leaving Rideau Hall, Adrienne Clarkson and her husband, writer and philosopher John Ralston Saul, founded the Institute of Canadian Citizenship, a legacy project they had begun while still at Rideau Hall. That same year, Adrienne Clarkson published her memoir in English - "Heart Matters" and French - "Le coeur au poing". Adrienne Clarkson received numerous awards and honorary degrees throughout her career, including three ACTRA awards, International Emmy Awards in 1978 and 1980, Gemini Awards in 1993 and 1995 for "Adrienne Clarkson Presents", and le prix Gémeaux in 1995. Adrienne Clarkson was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992. In 2007, she became the Third Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. She has also received honorary degrees from numerous universities: Dalhousie University (1988), Lakehead University (1989), Acadia University (1991), British Columbia Open University (1996), the University of Prince Edward Island (1996), the University of Victoria (2000), McGill University (2001), Queen's University (2003), the University of Ottawa (2003), York University (2003), the University of Western Ontario (2003), Mount Allison University (2003), and Concordia University (2004).