Nestled in the vibrant neighbourhood of Sandy Hill is the Laurier House National Historic Site. It was home to two of Canada’s Prime Ministers and contemporaries Sir Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. What makes this site a must-visit is that it is the one in Canada where visitors can experience a residence while sitting in office. I was asked by Parks Canada if I would like to step back in time by taking a tour of this great home. The history buff in me could not pass up this opportunity!
Laurier House National Historic Site
Laurier House was originally built in 1879 and is an example of the Second Empire Style. It was purchased in 1898 by friends and supporters of the Liberal Party for their newly elected Prime Minister, Wilfred Laurier. He and his wife, Zoe, lived there until each of them died (Wilfred Laurier in 1919 and Zoe in 1921). Zoe left the home to fellow William Lyon Mackenzie King in her will and he took over the residence until his death in 1950.
Stepping into this home was like stepping back into history. Once we passed the foyer, I noticed these two fluffy friends on a table in the hallway. Miranda, our guide around Laurier House informed us that Parka the Beaver and Pat the Irish Terrier were on hand to make younger visitors feel less anxious while touring this site. Their fuzzy faces made me feel more at home when I saw them.
More personal rooms to explore at the Laurier House
One of the rooms that spoke to me was the Master Bedroom. Both Laurier and King used this space as their bedrooms while they inhabited this residence. We were careful to not disturb any of the artifacts while in this room. The furniture, the artwork, and the collection of canes in the room put into perspective what these men were like away from their roles as leaders of Canada.
Sunny. Bright. Homey. These are three ways to describe how I felt when we visited the Breakfast Room. While King used this room to start a day of leading a nation, the Lauriers had used this space as the housekeeper’s room. I could see why King loved being in this room to start his day. It feels like a peaceful area to take your first meal of the day.
A more hands-on experience at the Laurier House
The Kitchen is the one room that could not be put together in the same style as it was when Laurier and King lived at Laurier House. Instead, it serves as a Canadian home front kitchen that would have existed during World War II. A housewife welcomes visitors to this part of the house and shares what life was like for women during this era in Canada.
I really enjoyed this part of Laurier House National Historic Site as it is one of the most interactive spaces throughout the site. Visitors learn about topics such as rationing, recycling, working outside of the home, and how they volunteered to do their part to contribute to the war effort. The refrigerator was a fun feature in this space. Visitors are able to sneak a peek inside to see how Canadians traditionally would have stocked this appliance. It was so interesting to see the differences and the similarities between a kitchen during this era and the ones that we have in our homes.
It’s tea time!
The last spot we visited was the L-shaped veranda of the Laurier House National Historic Site. It was a perfect spot for visitors to sit and hide from the heat of the day. Comfy chairs and tables make it easy to enjoy this area of the house.
An added bonus to the tour I had to Laurier House was the Sweet Picnic Tea on the Veranda Experience this site offers visitors for an extra charge. This service happens during July and August from 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm. A selection of self-service tea accompanies each basket to fully enjoy a warm summer afternoon.
Visitors indulging in this experience will each receive the following treats in your picnic basket:
- 1 Orange-seasonal berry Madeline
- 2 Delicate Shortbread Cookies with Brown Butter Glaze
- 2 Spiced-Vanilla-Coco Cookies
- 1 Chamomile Biscuit Roll.
More reasons to visit the Laurier House National Historic Site
Laurier House offers other experiences for visitors to enjoy. They have a Whiskey Tasting to host a premium whiskey and food pairing evening on September 7thfrom 7:00 pm – 9:00 PM. An event like this goes well with this historic site because it goes along with the character and culture heritage of this site. It also compliments the era in which whiskey was popularized. Local and imported cheeses, hand crafted chocolate, and locally baked goods will also be served.
The cost of this experience is $125 (plus tax) per person, and only happens once a year.
Fact or Fiction Evening
Do you think you know a lot of Prime Ministers Laurier and King? Attending a Fact or Fiction Evening is a must! Attendees must compete against each other to figure out which of the stories presented by the host of the night. Players can test their knowledge about these Prime Minister’s lives. Light refreshments are served during this event.
The cost of this experience $14.70 per person, and reservations are required. Dates for the 2019 season of this event will be available soon. Reservations for this event can be made by calling Laurier House at 613-992-8142 or on their website.
A historic site to visit again and again
There are so many things for visitors to enjoy at the Laurier House National Historic Site. Touring the various house that two Prime Ministers called home makes you feel as though you are stepping back into time. The rooms Take visitors back in time to when these two Prime Ministers lived. Exploring the interactive kitchen is a fun learning experience. The Sweet Tea Picnic on the VerandaExperience was a delicious affair. I could go back again and again to this historic site to take in more of it. There really is A LOT to learn about this home that housed two of Canada’s leaders. I cannot wait to visit again!
Would you like to find out more about the Laurier House National Historic Site? You can check them out on Parks Canada’s website. We also connected with Parks Canada on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube pages!