Canada's first Chinese-Canadian governor-general, Hong Kong-born Adrienne Clarkson, steps down on Tuesday leaving a mixed legacy from her six-year tenure. Observers are praising her for invigorating what was often seen as a stuffy position - the national representative of the queen, who is the head of state in Canada - a role dominated by old white men. 'I think her overwhelming legacy is one of having made the office of governor-general visible and engaged in a way that it certainly hadn't been in at least a generation, if not more,' said John Aimers, the head of the Monarchist League of Canada. Born in Hong Kong in 1939, Mrs Clarkson came to Canada as a refugee with her family after the Japanese occupation in 1941. Her English-speaking father, who grew up in Australia, was helped by Canadian trade officials he knew in Hong Kong. Mrs Clarkson excelled as a student in Ottawa, Toronto and Paris and praised her teachers in the Canadian school system 'who treated me only as bright, not bright yellow.' A career as a journalist and television broadcaster followed, plus stints with prominent cultural and publishing organisations. Mrs Clarkson married Toronto professor Stephen Clarkson in 1963, but they divorced in 1975. She married her long-time partner and writer John Ralston Saul in 1999. Jean Chretien, then Canadian prime minister, made history when he offered the post of governor-general to an immigrant and non-European for the first time. It was also a break from the tradition of appointees with a political or military background. 'Her appointment is a reflection of the diversity and inclusiveness of our society and an indication of how our country has matured over the years,' said Mr Chretien. This may have been the case, but when Mrs Clarkson referred to her Chinese heritage in her inaugural speech, several prominent Chinese-Canadians criticised her, saying it was the first time she had identified with the Chinese community. Critics also questioned her ability to fulfil her role as commander-in-chief of the Canadian forces, but she won over some of the cynics, going out on night patrols with soldiers and spending her holidays with Canadian troops in dangerous postings. She went to Kosovo to meet the soldiers, celebrated Christmas with the forces in the Gulf on a Canadian destroyer and spent last New Year's Day with Canadian troops in Kabul. She also visited more than 300 native communities during her mandate and consoled settlements burdened with the problem of teenage suicides and drug abuse. All of which raised the profile of her position and won Mrs Clarkson respect, but she drew fire for some of her travels. The costs of a 2003 circumpolar tour with Canada's cultural elite blew out to more than C$5 million ($33 million). The event prompted debate on whether Canada needed a queen's representative costing an estimated C$41 million annually. That issue was sidelined late last year. Mrs Clarkson was asked to remain in office an additional year to provide stability as the country faced the potential constitutional challenges of a minority government. But in hockey-mad Canada, the 26th governor-general's most enduring legacy may well be the announcement made during her farewell speech in Toronto's Empire Club. With the donation of a silver cup, the Clarkson Cup, she plans to do for women's hockey what Lord Stanley of Preston did for the men's game over a century ago, when he created the Stanley Cup, North American hockey's most prestigious award. The development of Canada's governor-general into a populist representative of the country's diversity has been maintained in the choice of her successor. Well-known broadcaster Michaelle Jean, 48, a black female Haitian refugee will be installed this month. In Mrs Clarkson's words: 'I know how critical it is for all of us to exchange friendliness and support from one community to the next, from all parts of the country to all the others 'I am convinced that any country that cannot do these things is not really much of a country.'