Thursday, December 8, 2016

Stepping Into Laurier House

Laurier House dates back to the late 1870s, built in the Second Empire style for an Ottawa jeweler, and was originally called Kininvie. It became home to Wilfred and Zoe Laurier some twenty years later as a new residence for the Liberal prime minister, and would remain their Ottawa quarters for the remainder of their lives. It was willed to William Lyon Mackenzie King, who'd been a young Liberal member of Parliament in Laurier's day, and would end up being our longest serving Prime Minister. King in turn willed it and his weekend retreat in the Gatineau Hills to the country. Today Laurier House is preserved and open for visits in season as a national historic site, with items of these three people to be found throughout the rooms. The public spaces take up much of the building, while private spaces, today used by Parks Canada staff, take up the bedrooms and working space that would have been used by household staff in the days of the Lauriers and King.

On the ground floor, this first room is called the Morning Room or Reception Room. Zoe Laurier used this room for receiving visitors. King used it as additional space for entertaining.

Across the hall is the dining room, used by both prime ministers to entertain visitors coming for dinner.

The third major room down here is the Drawing Room, used by the Lauriers and King for entertaining, and particularly home to a good deal of art, as well as portraits of visitors. Some of my readers might recognize the family in the third photo down.

The Lauriers and King can be found throughout the building in photographs and paintings. This is a formal portrait of King.

I like the style of the main staircase.

This portrait of Laurier is upstairs, on what is technically the first floor, which was used for private quarters for the families, guests, and household staff. The photo that follows shows differences in rooms between the Laurier and King years.


  1. A beautiful home that is filled with art and history from its owners. Good that it is well maintained and opened for public viewing.

  2. How wonderful that they have the art and photos from the owners. (What Nancy said).


  3. Agree too with Nancy. I love visiting old houses.

  4. It is, indeed, very elegant. But it's hard to wrap my mind around the kind of money it must have cost to build and maintain such a place! Would enjoy visiting there, though.

  5. I'm so glad they keep places like this in tact and look after them, always interesting to see a bit of 1800's lifestyle! I rather like the idea of a 'morning room' ☺

  6. I love these old historic homes!


  7. that was a huge place. Interesting how older buildings are renovated through the years.

  8. What a lovely old historical house. Well preserved as a window in to the past. I definitely would love to see it.

  9. Looks like a nice house to visit. They were living in grand style.

  10. it is gorgeous, that's for sure! i always wonder what it would be like to live like that!

  11. @Nancy: it is an enjoyable place to visit.

    @Janis: it must have been quite an effort to bring it all together.

    @Pat: this one is well worth visiting repeatedly.

    @Lowell: and then there's the cost of the household staff salary. The Lauriers and King had that in both cases.

    @Grace: it's an interesting term. There's a room upstairs that was King's breakfast room- I imagine if he wasn't entertaining, he probably ate there on his own instead of coming down to the dining room.

    @Sharon: this one is a treasure of history.

    @Red: King did some of that himself when he had the place, including the addition of an elevator.

    @Bill: we Canadians tend to not preserve the homes of our prime ministers in the way we should, though there are exceptions. This one being open to the public is a very good thing.

    @Linda: it definitely is.

    @Janey: they were, but it also feels like a home- especially King's study.

    @Tanya: it was quite the way to live.

  12. It is so nice that it has been preserved!

  13. Don't you just love those large portraits! I mean, who but a king would have a house big enough for those crazy things. :-)

  14. It is a lovely place. Thanks for the tour!

  15. I love your tour of the place! Seems like quite the residence.

  16. love all the chandeliers and the doodads over the fireplace. i know they have a name, but the brain is not recalling that fancy-ness. ha. ha!! ( ;

  17. @RedPat: it is!

    @Revrunner: they're wonderful portraits!

    @Lois: you're welcome! More to come.

    @Meradeth: it really is, and yet for all the grandeur, it also feels comfortable, like a home.

    @Beth: the light fixtures, you mean?

  18. Another magnificent building from the time of the very rich and the very poor. A museum is a terrific use for it. I do hope the quarters that were once used for the servants more accessible than those I've seen in some of the mansions here.

  19. Beautiful rooms, all. It's really a wonderful residence.

  20. Old homes have the most character.

  21. Looks like a neat place! Thanks for taking us inside.

  22. I indeed recognized the family in that third photo. They are out former queen Juliana and her husband crook prince Bernhard and their two oldest children.

  23. Looks pretty with the BLUE in there.

  24. @Mari: from what I've seen, yes.

    @Catalyst: that it is.

    @Kay: I think so.

    @Norma: they do!

    @Jennifer: indeed.

    @Linda: you're welcome.

    @Jan: yes, I'm sure Juliana must have visited from time to time during her time in Ottawa.

    @Gunn: it does!