Friday, December 8, 2017

A Prime Ministerial Home

Picking up where I left off yesterday in Laurier House, here in the Laurier Library, a player piano sits. Parks Canada guides are to be found on each floor, and one started up the piano to play some ragtime- note the depressed keys as the piano plays itself. The boxes you see on top are marked from a company that still makes these scrolls for player pianos.

Across the hall from this room is the master bedroom. The Lauriers slept here, and King did as well when the place became his home.

The top floor takes in this room, a favourite for me in the house. Laurier used this room as a billiards room, and it's easily big enough to fit a table for that, with room to spare around it. King used it for his study, and it has been left that way. He essentially ran the country from this room. Many of his books are in the bookshelves, safely behind glass.

Across the central hall is a room that was used by the head housekeeper in the days of the Lauriers. King turned it into a breakfast room for himself, and had most of his meals here when he wasn't entertaining visitors.

Among the items belonging to King in this room are plaster casts of the hands and face of Abraham Lincoln, done in 1860 at the time of the Republican nomination by artist Leonard Volk. These are one of three or four sets in the world, and how they came into the hands of the Canadian Liberals at the time are a mystery, but they're in a good place- artifacts of one great leader in the home of two other great leaders.

This sculpture has always drawn my eye. How a sculptor could get that veil effect with marble is a mystery.

Here we return to where we started, with the spacious front veranda. If you are ever in Ottawa, I recommend paying a visit to this place.


  1. Wonderful sense of place from these shots. I've seen a veiled sculpture similar to the one you've shown. The effect is fascinating, as is most anything an artist can create so beautifully with marble.

  2. What an interesting place, William. I wonder about the marble statue too!

  3. So unexpected to see a plaster cast of Lincoln in Ottawa!


  4. @Kay: it's quite a technique.

    @Tom: it certainly is.

    @Marleen: it's very well done.

    @Bill: definitely!

    @Marianne: it is.

    @Janis: that's true.

    @Jan: it definitely is.

  5. I definitely would visit Laurier House William, especially after seeing what it looks like here.. just my cup of tea ☺

  6. Your first shot really brought back some memories for me. When I was a kid we had a player piano and a bunch of those rolls with different songs on them. Every now and then, my dad would crank it up a play a few.

  7. I read a biography on Laurier so was familiar with the house. Your photos add to my understanding.

  8. You really convey the atmosphere of the place and the times, William! Thanks for showing us around

  9. Great museum and the casts of Lincoln's face and hands are incredible!

  10. Beautiful place, William. Thanks for showing us.

  11. @Grace: and one can even have tea on the verandah during summer weekends.

    @RedPat: you're welcome.

    @Sharon: I still remember the first time coming in and hearing that piano upstairs playing some jazz- I was surprised to come into the room and see it playing itself. I think it's the first time I ever saw one in person, barring anything in early childhood.

    @Red: both were great leaders.

    @Cloudia: you're welcome.

    @Christine: they look so vividly realistic. The Smithsonian has a set of these, and another set done a few weeks before the end of the war. The difference is so stark.

    @Bill: it's a pleasure.

  12. With the extreme weater Aina outside ..... it feels good to see the photo from the veranda.
    Would have been nice to sit there in the sunshine.
    Happy weekend to you!

  13. Great historical post and photos ~

    Happy Weekend to you ^_^

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka A Creative Harbor

  14. Fantastic sculpture with the veil! I did not know they still made the rolls for the player pianos. Our neighbors in Iowa had one.

  15. Very cool! I love the bookshelves!

  16. You've given me so many ideas for an Ottawa trip!

  17. @Gunn: thanks!

    @Carol: thank you.

    @Mari: yes, a company still makes them.

    @Jennifer: so do I.

    @Klara: indeed!

    @Jackie: if you're ever up this way, I'd be happy to show you around.