Woodside National Historic Site of Canada
© Parks Canada/Parcs Canada, 2003.
528 Wellington Street North, Kitchener, Ontario
Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
1853 to 1853
1886 to 1893
1942 to 1942
Event, Person, Organization:
William Lyon Mackenzie King
Research Report Number:
Existing plaque: at parking lot on pathway leading to residence 528 Wellington Street North, Kitchener, Ontario
William Lyon Mackenzie King, tenth Prime Minister of Canada, spent his adolescent years at Woodside, where he lived from 1886 to 1893. The country setting he enjoyed during this formative period among books and family mementos fostered his later spiritual, moral and intellectual development. Close ties with his parents, sisters and brother shaped his image of the ideal family life. The home, originally constructed in 1853, along with its picturesque gardens, also recalls the daily life of a genteel family in the late 19th century.
Description of Historic Place
Woodside National Historic Site of Canada is a picturesque, wooded estate, set in the midst of a modern suburb in the north-east part of the city of Kitchener. It includes a one-and-a-half-storey house, reconstructed in 1942 as a mid-19th-century house and furnished in the style of the 1890s. The property also includes pathways and natural landscape features. These serve to recreate the sense of place experienced by William Lyon Mackenzie King when he lived here as an adolescent with his family. The formal recognition consists of the 4.5 hectare area occupied by the King family between 1886 and 1893.
Woodside was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1952 because: of its association with William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s tenth Prime Minister, whose home it was during his formative years of 1886-1893.
William Lyon Mackenzie King was Prime Minister of Canada from 1921 to 1930 and from 1935 to 1948. Woodside was rented by Mackenzie King’s father, and was occupied by the King family between 1886 and 1893. Mackenzie King spent eight years of his adolescence here, and according to King, Woodside was where the values and beliefs he held throughout his life were formed. Whenever he spoke or wrote of the ideal family life in later years, it was always Woodside to which he referred. When the original 1853 house was dismantled and reconstructed in the 1940s, Mackenzie King and his sister gave advice as to the appropriate design and contents.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, May 1952.
Key elements which relate to the heritage value of Woodside are: the picturesque character of the wooded grounds and the secluded nature of the dwelling within the grounds; the surviving landscape elements dating to the period 1886-93, notably the tulip tree near the lily pond, woodlands areas, and sections of the original entrance laneway; the surviving archaeological elements dating to the period 1886-93, notably the artifacts from the excavated privy, and the privy itself; the form and design of the house, as reconstructed as a replica of the original King home; the surviving original materials from the 1853 house occupied by the King family, which were incorporated into the reconstruction; the surviving object collection from the 1853 house occupied by the King family.