Mackenzie King Estate

I have a little slice of Canadiana for you today: this sunlight, filtered through the trees, draws you onward to the Mackenzie King Estate.

entrance to the estate

William Lyon Mackenzie King was the longest-serving Prime Minister in Canada’s history: from 1921-26, 1926-30, and 1935-48. (The dates are written like that because King was out of office during 1926, but only very briefly.)

In total, he held office for twenty-two years — a record for any country in the Commonwealth.

In 1903, King purchased some land in the Gatineau Hills, a short distance from Ottawa, on the Quebec side of the Ontario/Quebec border. Sometimes he held public receptions there, but mainly it served as a private retreat.


Moorside was King’s principal summer residence when he was at the height of his political career. It was the showpiece of the estate because of its beautiful lawns and gardens, modelled on an English country estate.

the gardens

And now for an idiosyncratic touch … the stone ruins.

I believe these are called the Abbey ruins

The ruins are my favourite part of the estate, imported from far-flung places to beautify the landscape by framing the scenery.

ruins just below the gardens

I love the fact that these man-made works manage to blend into the beautiful natural setting. The ruins pictured below (no, I am not referring to my daughter!) are both historic and whimsical.

girl in a window 2

Canada’s connection to Great Britain is represented by the British Speaker’s coat-of-arms. But King also prized Canada’s growing independence from the Imperial government. His grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie, had led an unsuccessful rebellion in 1837. The fireplace shown above contains three square stones from the rebel’s printing office.

a tree-framed path

As Canada’s Prime Minister during World War II, King hosted a major conference between Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt at Quebec City in 1943. On some occasion (whether it was in 1943, I can’t say), King walked down this path with Winston Churchill to view another of the estate’s natural attractions, a waterfall.

The waterfall was more spectacular prior to 1948, when the stream was dammed. It always causes me a pang of regret, knowing that I can’t see the waterfall in its full glory, as King and Churchill enjoyed it together.

the waterfall

King died in one of the buildings on the estate on July 22, 1950. He bequeathed the estate to Canada in perpetuity. The Farm (the building where King died) is now the official residence of the Speaker of the House of Commons.

woman and overhanging tree

I love this photo (taken two days ago at the estate). Nature is simply chockablock with wonders!

copyright © 2006, Stephen


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. P.A. Coté
    Jan 22, 2007 @ 20:09:48

    Thanks so much for posting this on-line. I was trying to describe the Estate to a friend in the U.S. and I think I will just send her this site as it is so beautiful and has a very clear write-up about King and what he did here.


  2. Stephen
    Jan 23, 2007 @ 12:44:29

    Thanks, P.A. I’m glad to help out.


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