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Location Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Original use Manor of John McKinnon
Current use Official residence of the British High Commissioner to Canada
Architectural style(s) Victorian
Owner Queen of the United Kingdom
Website 1955 booklet outlining the history of the building (pdf)

Earnscliffe is a Victorian manor in Ottawa, Ontario. It is currently used as the residence of the British High Commissioner to Canada, and it was home to Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. The manor overlooks the Ottawa River just east of the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. It is located just to the northwest of Sussex Drive across from the Lester B. Pearson Building.

The house is a National Historic Site of Canada, and the location of a plaque erected by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, but since it is a diplomatic residence, it is closed to visitors.

The manor was built by Thomas McKay company for his son-in-law John McKinnon in 1855.[1] McKinnon died suddenly in 1866 and the house was purchased by another of McKay's sons-in-law, Thomas Keefer. Two years later he sold it to railroad developer Thomas Reynolds. Reynolds resided there for several years, and it was during this period that it got the name "Earnscliffe," an archaic term for "eagle's cliff."

Reynolds died in 1879, and in 1883 his son sold the house to Sir John A. Macdonald. Macdonald had earlier stayed with Reynolds, and there are some stories that he gave it its name[citation needed]. In 1888 Macdonald made several additions to the structure. In 1891 Macdonald fell ill, and he died in his room in Earnscliffe. His widow, Lady Macdonald briefly continued to reside in the manor after his death and Queen Victoria made her Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe. Soon, however, Agnes and her daughter departed for England and leased the house to Lord Treowen, commander of the militia. Over the next decades the building was home to several local notables including Mrs Charles A.E. Harriss.

In 1930, William Henry Clark, the first British High Commissioner to Canada, arranged to buy the house for the British government. It has been the home of the High Commissioner ever since.

On October 4, 2011 a fire damaged the building. British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock, living in the house at the time, was fine and no one was injured in the fire.

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Coordinates: 45°26′15″N 75°41′56″W / 45.437378°N 75.698912°W / 45.437378; -75.698912


  1. ^ ""Earnscliffe, Ottawa."". Dominion Illustrated News (Montreal). 6 (155): 579. June 20, 1891.