The votes are in and Prince Albert residents agree that the Diefenbaker House Museum and former home of Canada’s 13th Prime Minister John George Diefenbaker is Prince Albert’s Best Tourist Attraction.
Diefenbaker lived in the house located at 246 – 19th St. W., from 1947 to 1957.
Diefenbaker was Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963, and he was also a respected and well-known member of the Prince Albert community. He served as Prince Albert’s Member of Parliament from 1953 until his death in 1979.
The Diefenbaker House Museum is open only during the summer months and gets an estimated 1,600 visitors per year. It is a guided tour that gives those visitors the opportunity to learn more about Diefenbaker’s private life.
“It is not so much his political life we talk about in the house, it’s his private life and his life in Prince Albert,” said Michelle Taylor, curator for the Prince Albert Historical Society.
“All of the artifacts in the house were the Diefenbakers’ possessions -- there is five items that are original to the house and then the rest was brought from their Ottawa house when he passed away in 1979.”
The Diefenbaker House Museum is a two-storey wood-framed bungalow that was originally built in 1912. Upon entering the museum, guests get a first-hand look at what the dining room and living area might have been like when Diefenbaker lived there. Old photographs of John at the home with his first wife Edna, who died in 1951, and his second wife Olive, who was by his side during his political years, can also be viewed.
Some interesting stories guests might hear about Diefenbaker while taking the guided tour could include his apparent love for vanilla milkshakes.
“Diefenbaker really loved his vanilla milkshakes and was often seen holding them when he was at a conference or giving a speech,” said museum interpreter Amanda McLeod. “Sometimes he would drink that instead of water and we do have a picture of this upstairs,” she added.
Diefenbaker was also an admirer of Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, and he collected a lot of his antiques. Two of those antiques, a couch and a bed frame, are currently displayed at the museum.
Diefenbaker always tried to return to Prince Albert on Canada Day so he could celebrate it with the community. However in 1979, the year he died, he was too ill to so. Today, guests can view a get well soon message at the Diefenbaker House Museum that more than 1,000 community members signed for him that day.
Diefenbaker also had a hockey team in Prince Albert named after him, they called themselves Dief’s Chiefs. The team, which was originally called the Prince Albert Old Timers, asked Diefenbaker if they could rename their team after him. He was then also made honorary captain of the team.
A copy of the Bill of Rights can also be viewed at the museum. Diefenbaker considered it to be one of his proudest achievements.
The Diefenbaker House Museum is located at 246 19th Street West. It is open to visitors from May 20 to August 29 this year from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday to Sunday.
To view a video of the museum click here.
The Destination Marketing Hotels are pleased to support Best of the Best. The goal of the destination group of hotels is to support the development and marketing of tourism assets in the city of Prince Albert that will ultimately result in increased hotel stays at our member hotels! www.stayinpa.ca.
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