Description of Historic Place
Wilfrid Laurier House, part of the Sir Wilfrid Laurier National Historic Site of Canada, sits on generous grounds on a residential street in the city of Saint-Lin-Laurentides. It is a small, one-and-a-half storey, brick clad house with a front veranda, whose ornate posts support the overhanging eaves of its gently curved gable roof. The three-bay front façade has a central door flanked by two multi-paned windows. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Wilfrid Laurier House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
Wilfrid Laurier House, acquired by the federal government in 1937, is directly associated with the government’s earliest efforts to remind Canadians (other than with plaques) of events, places, people and significant themes in Canadian history. Although it was later discovered that the house was not the birthplace of the first French Canadian to serve as Prime Minister (1869-1911), Wilfred Laurier House is the centrepiece of Sir Wilfrid Laurier National Historic Site of Canada and remains one of the most important non-military historic sites in the country.
Wilfrid Laurier House is valued for its good aesthetic and functional design. It is representative of what was believed in 1939 to be a late 19th-century middle-class vernacular house, and is a good example of the transition period between the traditional ‘maison québécoise’ and the colonial styles. When the house was restored after heritage designation, a stylistic vision was chosen. The house was moved onto a new foundation and architectural elements deemed no longer consistent with this ‘ideal’ vision were replaced. Under the careful guidance of an ethnologist, the interior was also restored. The house therefore bears increased witness to the evolution of conservation and interpretation practices.
Wilfrid Laurier House is compatible with the commemorative character of its historic site setting and is a well-known landmark of the region.
Sources: Michel Bedard avec la collaboration de Paul Trépanier, Maison Laurier, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 92-028; Wilfrid Laurier House, Villes des Laurentides, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 92-028.
The character-defining elements of Wilfrid Laurier House should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and functional design, and good craftsmanship and materials, as for example:
- the architectural features that make this small, one-and-a-half storey brick house a good example of the transition period between the traditional ‘québécoise’ house and the colonial house of the late 19th century. Features of the Québec tradition are evident in the typical silhouette with the side façade facing the street, the gently curved gable roof, and the regular layout of the wood windows, however, the almost square plan, the small size, the brick siding and the brick arches over the windows are elements that illustrate the incorporation of methods inspired by the classic vernacular New England house;
- the attention given to the decorative treatment of this building, particularly the main and side façades, making it an interesting witness to what was, at the time the house was restored, an idealized vision of a late 19th-century middle-class vernacular house;
- the partially windowless back façade, which evoked the old farm buildings that were demolished when the house was moved. This type of complex, consisting of outbuildings attached to the main building and commonly known as ‘maisons blocs’, is very specific to the Lanaudière region;
- the elements of the interior that contribute to the above-mentioned idealized vision.
The manner in which Wilfrid Laurier House is compatible with the commemorative character of its historic site setting and is a well-known building in the region, as evidenced by:
- its overall massing, design and materials, which are compatible with the surrounding buildings on the streetscape and with its associated landscape on the historic property;
- its familiarity within the region as part of a national historic site that is a major tourist and cultural attraction.