Laurier House National Historic Site of Canada

Ottawa, Ontario
Historic view showing the asymmetrical massing of the residence with its protruding tower-like wing and bays. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
Historic view
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada
Historic view showing the asymmetrical massing of the residence with its protruding tower-like wing and bays. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs CanadaCorner view showing the original materials and craftsmanship of the exterior of the residence. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs CanadaGeneral view of Laurier House, showing the Second Empire features remaining in its design, including its mansard roof, semi-circular dormers and projecting bays. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada.
Address : 335 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, Ontario

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1956-05-29
Dates:
  • 1878 to 1878 (Construction)
  • 1897 to 1919 (Significant)
  • 1923 to 1950 (Significant)
  • 1896 to 1911 (Significant)
  • 1921 to 1925 (Significant)
  • 1926 to 1930 (Significant)
  • 1935 to 1948 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier  (Person)
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King  (Person)
  • John Mather  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Laurier House  (Designation Name)
Research Report Number: 1968-83, 1996-22
DFRP Number: 56479 00

Plaque(s)


Sandy Hill was one of Ottawa's most prestigious residential areas of the late 19th century and Laurier House, built in 1878, one of its grandest homes. Designed in the then popular Second Empire style characterized by the high mansard roof, it was the residence of two Canadian Prime Ministers. Sir Wilfrid Laurier resided here between 1897 and 1919, and in 1922 his widow bequeathed the house to Laurier's successor as Head of the Liberal Party, William Lyon Mackenzie King. Laurier House was left to the nation on King's death in 1950.

Description of Historic Place

Laurier House National Historic Site of Canada is a large Second Empire house on a residential lot situated on the northwest corner of Laurier and Chapel Streets in Ottawa's Sandy Hill East Heritage District.

Heritage Value

Laurier House National Historic Site is valued for: its role as the home of two Prime Ministers of Canada its association with the federal political careers of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King King's use of Laurier House as the unofficial extension of the Prime Minister's office during much of his tenure as Prime Minister.

The heritage value of this site resides in its associations with Prime Ministers Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King and its illustration of their tenures in the house.

This Second Empire house designed by James Mather, architect, was built in 1879 for an Ottawa jeweller. It was purchased as a home for Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1897-1919), then served as a home for Mackenzie King (1923-1950) during the periods both men were leaders of the Liberal Party. Canada did not have official residences for its political leaders until 1950, and so Laurier and King served as both Prime Ministers (1896-1911, 1921-25, 1926-30, 1935-48) and Leaders of the Official Opposition while living in this residence. King transformed the third floor of the house into his unofficial office, and from there conducted much of the nation's business.

Source: HSMBC, Minutes, 1996.

Character-Defining Elements

- the residential quality of the house and its property, particularly as it is associated with the 1897-1950 period of occupancy by Laurier and King, the asymmetrical massing of the residence with its protruding tower-like wing and bays, the Second Empire features remaining in its design (its mansard roof, semi-circular dormers, projecting bays), the original materials and craftsmanship of the exterior of the residence (black slate roof, yellow brick walls, delicate woodwork on dormers, early porch and verandah), the layout of the interior, and its early features, materials and craftsmanship (particularly those used for residential and reception purposes by Laurier and King), the layout, details and materials of the third storey as it was renovated by Mackenzie King to create his library and offices for the secretarial staff, the spatial relationship of the house to the street (visually open qualities), the subdivision of the yard surrounding the house into public and private areas (the former for public view, the latter to service the house and automobile), vestiges of the former 1909-1971 garage and dining room verandah which were in use during the Laurier/King periods, the original landscaped features of the property including lawn, particular trees, ornamental plantings, sidewalk pathways, and flagpole, the location of the house in a residential area of similar age (Sandy Hill East Heritage District).