Ottawa is a city steeped in a rich political history. Everywhere you travel in this great city you will find references to many of Canada’s former Prime Ministers, including Sir Wilfred Laurier.
We were recently invited by Parks Canada to come celebrate the launch of “Sir Wilfrid Laurier 175, A Season of Celebration” at Laurier House National Historic Site.
I would have loved to have been able to attend this afternoon tea party but, sadly, I was not able to. So, I did the next best thing and sent my friend Vanessa, from Turnipseed Travel, in my place. I knew Vanessa would cover this event with a style and grace befitting of any Canadian Prime Minister…and so she did!Come celebrate #Laurier175 in Ottawa! #OttCity Click To Tweet
Is there anything so lovely as an afternoon tea party? The veranda of Laurier House National Historic Site – surely one of the most exclusive addresses in town – is the perfect host for a breezy afternoon of fine tea and dainty bites. The wrap-around covered porch is cool and airy and the perfect setting for a relaxed afternoon with friends.
But whatever gossip and chit-chat you indulge in on the veranda, it will undoubtedly pale in comparison to what the walls have absorbed over the years. Laurier House is the former home of two Canadian Prime Ministers, Sir Wilfred Laurier and the Rt. Honourable William Lyon Mackenzie King. And this year in particular is a fine time to be stirring up political stories, as it’s the 175th anniversary of Laurier’s birth and the 120th anniversary of being elected Prime Minister. And the site is celebrating with much more than tea!
The excitement, drama, and intrigue of the two Prime Minister’s lives will be brought to life in a series of performances this summer with Live History’s “Mary’s Odyssey”, an interactive theatre experience about the residents of the house. It’s a unique way to see the see the property, one of many special insiders’ activities being presented this summer.
Lucky visitors who make advanced reservations can also take an extremely rare white glove tour, a two hour VIP experience that brings you into the off-limits section of the building and invites you to step behind the barriers (provided you wear jaunty blue booties for safety!) Mackenzie King had a taste for the finer things in life and every item has a fascinating history, like a prayer bench that may have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots, alongside the coronation chair of her son, King James 1st. You can even don the white gloves in question to handle some of the historical artifacts the property maintains, including Mackenzie King’s fine china.
If this is a little too much history for you and you’d like a lighter dose of yesteryear before indulging in afternoon tea, a briefer, one hour tour of the property is available. And as this year is so auspicious for Laurier’s legacy, there is a special themed tour that focuses exclusively on his life. Laurier was a diplomatic, consensus building leader during a pivotal time in Canadian development. As the country’s first Francophone Prime Minister, he was responsible for maintaining calm during tumultuous times such as the Northwest Rebellion and did much to improve relationships between French and English Canadians. He was a remarkable individual and it’s wonderful that visitors have the opportunity to explore his life.
Laurier House is just one of many National Historic Sites located across southern Ontario that’s open and eager for visitors. With so many special activities happening this summer, there’s never been a better time to visit Laurier House but if you find yourself delayed, take heart. In 2017, ALL Parks Canada attractions will be open to the public at no charge –the perfect reason to visit a new site for the first time or to keep coming back to your favourites for more.
Vanessa is TurnipseedTravel’s creator, head writer, and social media curator. In her early days she was an extreme budget traveler out of necessity and travelled Europe on $35 a day. To this day she carries a flame for free museums and farmers’ market fare. Her obsession with packing light is a more recent development and her first suitcase featured such generous proportions she could fit inside it. Never exactly the world’s bravest soul, she still begins her journeys not entirely convinced on the merits of being adventurous, but that hasn’t stopped her from sailing to the Aran Islands, running a marathon in Paris, working on Malawian fish farms, and exploring global cultural nuances through nacho consumption.