I have switched out my header image for something more fitting for winter. This new header is from last winter at Rideau Falls.
These busts in Laurier House caught my eye as I was visiting.
This room on the top floor was my favourite in the house. Laurier used it for a billiards room. Mackenzie King turned it into his study, and it has been left in that state ever since. He pretty much ran the country from here. There are books on the table registering guests, including Churchill and Roosevelt, who stayed here at various points during the war. Three of Churchill's cigars are in a box on the table as well. There's even a crystal ball in this room, in plain sight, but easily overlooked, as it was the Parks Canada guide who pointed it out to me. Aside from being a Scots Protestant, Mackenzie King had an interest in spiritualism, and was known to try to communicate with the dead. There's a story about him chatting with a visitor in which he mentioned speaking with President Roosevelt the previous evening. The visitor asked, "you mean President Truman?" The Prime Minister smiled and said, "no, President Roosevelt." He'd wanted his personal papers destroyed after his death, but they weren't, and much of his interest in spiritualism was thus revealed to the nation at large. He was a brilliant leader, and something of an eccentric character. I expect I'd have liked him a lot.
King displayed this proclamation with great pride up here- a reward for the arrest of his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie, for whom he was named. Mackenzie had been a journalist, politician, and leader of the 1837 rebellions, and for a time he had been a wanted man.
Churchill's presence can be found on the mantle in the room across the hall. Mackenzie King used this as his breakfast room- and perhaps for all meals when he wasn't entertaining visitors- and the small bust of the great British leader can be seen on the right in this shot. On the radio at the left stands the CBC microphone that was among the many used when Edward VIII announced his abdication. During the Laurier days, this room was quarters to the chief housekeeper.
There's something else in this room that seems an oddity. If you look down from the above view, you find a case containing a plaster life mask and hands of Abraham Lincoln, cast in 1860, before the Republican nomination. It is a remarkable thing, looking at his face in a three dimensional way. This set is one of four known copies- the Smithsonian has one, and one of the others is right here in the home of two prime ministers, having had been in the possession of the Liberal Party of Canada since the latter 19th century. The work was done by artist Leonard Volk, from before Lincoln had a beard. It's a Lincoln whose face is yet untouched by the ravages of four years of civil war, but which lie before him- a stark contrast to another life mask that was done in early 1865. His hands convey strength, which is understandable- though he was years removed from those days, he'd done a lot of physical work in his younger days while learning the law, and that strength never left the Great Emancipator.