A rare look at how two Prime Ministers of Canada lived.
When you visit Ottawa you can’t help but be fascinated and excited by all of the history that surrounds you. The history of a young Canada being built. All the work that the men and women put into creating such an amazing country surrounds you. On a tree lined street a 5 minute drive from the Parliament buildings is a home with more than it’s fare share of history, Laurier House, home to two of Canada’s early Prime Ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. I would be ashamed of myself if I didn’t experience this unique opportunity during my 30 Days In Ottawa.
Laurier House is run by Parks Canada and when I arrived the first thing to do is visit the Visitor’s Centre at the back portion of the property. I paid my $3.90 admittance fee and then was welcomed in to watch a short film that tells the history of Sir Wilfrid Laurier & William Lyon Mackenzie King. Plaques and photos line the visitor centre sharing facts and tidbits of information about the two Prime Ministers and the house that they shared as a home.
I couldn’t resist a selfie photo with Mackenzie King, it might be the only photo I ever take with a Prime Minster of Canada.
With the film completed I moved on to the actual house that was built in 1878 for the 7th Prime Minister of Canada, Sir Wilfrid Laurier.
Normally this is where I would have to stop with the photos but I’m very thankful that they gave me special dispensation to take a few photos inside the house to share with you. It’s a real treat and I hope you like them.
A bit of history first. The house was built for Laurier by his supporters as they wanted him to live in Prime Ministerial Style. Mackenzie King was a protégé of Laurier’s and after Laurier died the house was willed to Mackenzie King who then went on to become our 10th Prime Minster. Most of the way the house looks now is thanks to extensive renovations made by Mackenzie King and it’s thanks to him that the house is actually open to us. When he died in 1950 the house and it’s artefacts were willed to the People of Canada.
Let the tour begin. The first room I can show you is the dining room. Wood paneled walls and a large fireplace dominate the room making it feel very cozy. The room is set now with a small table for four but I imagine the table could grow to accommodate at least eight guests plus hosts. The plastered ceiling is ornate and delicate and you can even see a display of the actual china and flatware that Mackenzie King and his family & guests would have used.
After a delightful meal perhaps you’d like to retire to the sitting room? This one is mostly for the ladies. It’s beautiful but man it would be really hard to curl up for a nap on that couch.
Moving up to the top floor you get to see where Mackenzie King spent most of his time. He used Laurier House as his official office so apparently a large portion of government business was done right in this room. He even hosted King George VI, Sir Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and many others here.
Also on this floor is the bedroom that Mackenzie King slept in but it’s also the same bedroom that Sir Wilfrid Laurier and his wife slept in as well. Take a look at the plaque on the wall. I think it’s pretty cool.
When you tour the private home of a historical figure you can really peer into their daily life and perhaps even get a glimpse of their personality, tastes and character. Because Mackenzie King spent most of his time on the 3rd floor of the house the former servants floor was transformed into a more casual living space than the more formal lower floors. King used to enjoy his breakfast in what used to be a servants sleeping chamber.
My tour is complete but my love and appreciation of Canada and all who worked to build our great nation is still growing. If you visit Ottawa I insist you include a stop and tour at Laurier House. It’s a National Historic Site for a reason. I proimise you won’t regret it and it’s cheaper to visit than a Matcha Latte!
Thanks to all the wonderful staff at Laurier House for the tour and for allowing me the special gift of taking a few photos to share. I’ll treasure them.
My time in Ottawa is drawing near its end. I didn’t expect to but I’ve fallen in love with Ottawa. My last few posts will be about sharing with you a few of the best dining experiences I had. YUM YUM.