Take a step back in time to visit the former resident of two of Canada’s most important Prime Ministers. This Second Empire mansion in downtown Ottawa was the heart of Canada’s political life where both Sir Wilfred Laurier and Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King were able to call home. The Laurier House National Historic Site is a Parks Canada site and a must visit while in Ottawa.
Here is my experience visiting the Laurier House!
History of the Laurier House
The Laurier House is the former residence for both Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King. The house was built in 1878, but has gone through several alterations throughout its years. The home was the personal residence of Sir Wildrid Laurier from 1897 to 1919 and then was given to Mackenzie King to serve as his home during his time as the leader of the Liberal Party from 1923-1950. Upon Kings death he granted the house to the country and their people
Laurier House is located at 335 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa. There are several different options on how to get here.
On Foot: Located just over 2 kilometres from Parliament Hill on a nice day this site is easily walkable. Taking just over 20 minutes from Parliament to Laurier House it is a nice peaceful walk that will take you past the Shaw Centre, along the Rideau Canal, through the University of Ottawa Campus and finally arriving to the house.
By Car: From highway 417, take exit 118 for Nicholas Street/Lees Ave (if you are coming from the eastbound direction of the Queensway, you must turn left onto Lees Ave). Turn turn onto Mann Ave, then left onto Chapel Street. Laurier House is on the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Chapel Street. Note: There is no on site parking, but there is street parking nearby.
By Bus: There is a bus that takes you from the War Memorial, leaving at the corner of Wellington and Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, and is about a ten minute drive to Laurier House. Take the number 5 bus for an easy and hassle free commute to the national historic site.
Admission & Hours of Operation
For the 2017 year Laurier House National Historic Site is free to all visitors to celebrate Canada 150th birthday.
The hours of operation are as followed:
May 1-June 30 – Open Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) 10:00am – 5:00pm
July 1 – September 4 – Open daily, including holidays – 10:00am – 5:00pm
September 5 – October 9 (Thanksgiving) Open Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday & Wednesday) 10:00am – 5:00pm
What To Do
Self-Guided Tour: The visitors centre provides you with a self guided tour book that explains the layout of the house with floor plans, the history of each of the Prime Ministers when the lived in the house and much more. Additional to the guide books the house is full of Parks Canada Guides that are more than happy to share their additional knowledge of each of rooms and the history behind the house.
Take a Guided Tour: If you are interested in taking a guided tour they are offered for $7.30 by the Parks Canada Guides. They will take you through the collection of antiques and paintings that were owned by each of the Prime Ministers during their time living on Laurier Avenue as well as the lives and accomplishments of both Sir Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King. Tip: If you visit on a week day during off-peak times (morning, after lunch) you will likely find yourself in the house with very few other visitors and the Parks Canada staff will be happy to give you a mini-tour of each floor without having to pay for a guided tour.
Have Afternoon Tea on the Veranda: Every Saturday throughout the summer (July & August) light tea and pastries are served on the veranda. There are two time slots for your historic tea at the Prime Ministers house which are 11:00am an 2:00pm. Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance through Cordn Bleu by calling (613) 236-2499 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are in town on a Saturday make sure to stop by and stake a step back in time and sit where both Laurier and Mackenzie King would have and enjoy some tea and pastries!
Must Visit Rooms & Exhibits in the Laurier House
Second World War Homefront – Canada’s Kitchen: This brand new exhibit that opened May 1, 2017 allows you to explore what a kitchen would have looked like in Canada during the Second World War. The kitchen was normally the largest room in the house as so many activities took place in this space. In the kitchen you will find both original and replica books for rationing, price inflation, coupons and much more. Make sure to open the fridge, oven, cupboards to explore what is behind each door and decide if you would have wanted to dine in the 1940’s.
The Elevator: Did you know there is an elevator in the Laurier House? If you did not make sure to ask one of the Parks Canada staff to show you! The door to the elevator blends so well into the wooden walls you would never notice to look for it unless you knew it was there. Unfortunately, you cannot ride in the elevator as it has been getting stuck since the time Laurier lived in the house, but its cool enough to be able to go in and take a look at!