Maureen McTeer, wife of PM Joe Clark (1979-1980) was on the wireless today, talking about 24 Sussex Drive, the Prime Minister’s Residence, now that PM-Designate Justin Trudeau has decided to hang his toothbrush at Rideau Cottage instead of 24 Sussex. Maureen is also the author of Residences: Homes of Canada’s Leaders, 1982. McTeer knows the place better than we ever will.
The short form of her comments; burn the friggin joint to the ground and start over. There’s asbestos throughout and most of the systems are beyond redemption. It was gutted after the Feds took it over in 1946 and left to rot until Louis St. Laurent moved in, in 1951, so it doesn’t have any historical architectural significance according to McTeer. The site is impressive, but the house isn’t. One would think that the house should reflect how we view our Prime Minister and our country, especially when other Heads of State visit; the face we show to the world, so to speak. It’s a heritage designated building, so a burn-down is going to be very, very difficult.
One point that stood out, although there is an element of heritage to the site, the RCMP has to be able to protect the occupant and their family in a secure accommodation that is also a place where they can actually live.
Several callers have also paralleled our original idea: Get our home-grown reno and decorating experts to fix the joint and generate six or seven hours of good television out of it. McTeer also noted that having some real transparency and openness regarding our PM’s residence would be great. It would also scare the crap out of the NCC that works like a bureaucratic Star Chamber most of the time and terrifying bureaucrats is always a good thing.
An HVAC contractor caller also mentioned that he had a job where a couple with an 1890’s vintage home that they wanted to modernize. It saved them 15 to 20% by tearing down the original and replacing it with a duplicate, but with modern methods, engineering and systems. Also a very good idea.
On another side, we’ve sent a link to the blog posting to the production companies involved in the shows noted in the post and HGTV. It would seem others have too. This is just wacky enough to actually work.