Diefenbaker House named national historic site

By Tyler Marr
January 16, 2018 - 12:00pm

The John and Olive Diefenbaker Museum is a tribute to the Prime Minister's legacy and his close ties to Prince Albert.

Recognizing this, the Diefenbaker House was designated a National Historic Site by the federal government Friday, alongside 17 other places, people and events that help define and tell Canada’s history.

This is Prince Albert’s third national site, alongside the Keyhole Castle and former city hall building, now the Arts Centre. The designation was a welcome treat for Historical Society curator Michelle Taylor, saying it is “a real feather in our cap for Prince Albert.”

“It was pretty amazing and [we were] very thankful,” she said of hearing the news. “We had been working on this designation for four years.”

Built in 1912, Diefenbaker called the modest, two-story Tudor Revival home from 1947 to 1957. During this time, Diefenbaker became the local MP, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and, of course, the prime minister. 

Diefenbaker lived in the house with his first wife, Edna, and his second wife, Olive. While he retained ownership of the home during his time in Ottawa, he rented out the home before donating it to the city in 1975. The museum opened its doors in 1983. With the exception of the kitchen, the home retains the same layout.

The new title will bring with it new funding avenues, another aspect welcomed by Taylor. She explained how the society has talked about revitalizing the home or possibly building a small visitor centre on site to accommodate more visitors.

She said the society is currently limited to roughly 20 people at a time right now. 

“We are hoping to put in a visitors centre so we can take part of our tour group through the house while the other would learn about Diefenbaker in a more conventional museum type setting.”

While the home already had a good summer, seeing upwards of 200 more visits this year, Taylor expects the new designation to hike numbers further.

Other significant designations made Friday include the discovery of insulin, Viola Desmond, and Ozias Leduc.

 

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