Laurier Street

Laurier comes to town

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Art by William Stuart Taggart

Laurier Street was laid out by the Stratford Improvement Company in 1904 and first appeared on the 1922 map. The street is named for the seventh Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Hon. Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He was a Liberal who defeated Conservative Sir Charles Tupper. Laurier held office for a record 15 years and 3 months. The Stratford Improvement Company played it safe in 1904 by naming two streets in its subdivision, side by side, for Laurier and Conservative Robert Borden, Laurier's successor. Such was the defence against accusations of political favouritism.

When Sir Wilfrid came to town by train in 1911, Ontario and Downie streets from the railway station to George Street were profusely decorated with flags and streamers and signs, among them this pronouncement: "Welcome to Laurier, Canada's nation builder." Speaking to throngs in the park, Laurier said it was the largest crowd gathered during his tour. The speeches lasted three hours. The Beacon said, "the large attendance of ladies, the bright sunshine and cool atmosphere, all combined to make the occasion remembered with pleasure by everyone during the whole of their lives."

When Laurier died in 1919, his house, at 335 Laurier Ave. in Ottawa, was bequeathed by Lady Laurier (Zoé Lafontaine) to William Lyon Mackenzie. He in turn bequeathed it to Canada. The historical Laurier House is open to the public. By Stanford Dingman

Laurier House, Ottawa