#147: 24 Sucks-Shit Drive

The Prime Minister’s house is fucking falling apart and has been for decades.

If it wasn’t tucked in the crotch of a neighborhood called Rockcliffe, the nesting grounds of douchey fucklords either too poor to build manors in Toronto or too stupid to realize that living in Ottawa is like living in Novosibirsk if that Soviet shithole had recently been built over top of a much smaller, superior town, it would be a lovely addition to any neighborhood. It itself is a perfectly reasonable-looking nice-house, especially compared to garish shit like the Cowpland Mansion, which looks like a lame office building in an overwrought steampunk movie.

Anyways, let’s give the government a chance to speak on the matter:

“The house at 24 Sussex Drive was built at the very dawn of Canada’s life as a nation, in 1868. Its first three owners were all public men, prominent entrepreneurs but also members of Parliament, and all of them married to women with distinguished political pedigrees of their own. From its earliest days, therefore, 24 Sussex Drive has welcomed the political elite of Canada. Acquired by the government, and transformed into the official residence of the Prime Minister of Canada in 1950, the house continues to witness the making of history in Canada.”

Good stuff. If you’re good at shit-detection, you’ll immediately see why this is the most Canadian of government buildings – constructed through elitism by businessmen who got into politics and married into important families, this house was finally fused formally into the Canadian political machine by…the Liberals. Yes, our old friend Louis St. Laurent moved in after the last private owner, the lumber-baron-cum-Liberal MP Gordon Cameron Edwards, was evicted. Of course, the government didn’t know what to do with the place after this guy was booted in 1946 so ah, fuck it. Previous PMs had lived in rented apartments; clearly the agents of the Liberal machine deserved better. So the place became the Prime Minister’s residence in 1950. St. Laurent didn’t even really want the thing.

Now that it was in the hands of the Prime Ministers, the building was left to strange examples of corruption and general disrepair. Pierre Trudeau added an indoor pool that cost a cool quarter-million at the time and required an elaborate ruse because Pierre Trudeau refused to pay for it. Brain Mulroney caused a scandal by publicly revealing the costs he and his wife incurred in renovating the inside of the building. Kim Campbell didn’t even get to live in it. Jean Chretien was nearly assassinated in it. Paul Martin hated the heating in it. Stephen Harper refused to leave it.

And the whole fucking time, the building was rotting. The Auditor-General (thanks, Alexander Mackenzie!) reported this in 2008 but the building hadn’t been fixed in years and Steve wasn’t about to leave the castle for such tiny points as maintaining historic architecture or fixing critically-failing systems. Who needs the structural form of the past when you have the past make-believed into whatever shape is most convenient? Sure, the air-conditioning is fucked and foreigners are expected to have dinner in an unstable, unrenovated house whose most recent additions were the result of patronage and ill-planning (Jesus, Brian – at least consider the possibility that a 100+ year old house needs some external work too). But hey – it’s Canada, and there is nothing more Canadian than a simple, gorgeous home being turned into a century of fighting, patronage, and neglect.

Gorffwysfa (Welsh for “place of peace”), the formal name of the house because this is pseudo-Britain and of course we have to name houses, isn’t exactly my first choice of term for the thing.

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