PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. - The Prince Albert Historical Society in Saskatchewan is looking for money to help renovate the home of Canada's 13th prime minister.
John George Diefenbaker lived in the two-storey, wood-framed house from 1947 to 1975.
Diefenbaker was prime minister from 1957 to 1963 and served as Prince Albert’s member of Parliament from 1953 until his death in 1979.
Deb Honch, president of the historical society, says the group will be going to the provincial and federal governments asking for help with renovation costs.
The house is owned by the city and needs work both outside and inside the structure.
Honch is estimating the cost at anywhere from $300,000 to $400,000.
The house has been operating as a museum during the summer since 1983 and sees around 1,600 visitors every year.
Honch says additional dollars would help update displays inside the house.
“The displays are a little dated ... we would like to update the presentation, put in maybe some video monitors and story-telling techniques that are a little more interactive than what we have now,” Honch said.
She said there are also problems with the foundation, which is pulling away from the sunroom at the back.
“There’s a big crack in the foundation of the walls. We had an engineer study done on it — the city commissioned that — so there’s quite a list of things that need to be done that the city is hoping to start with this spring.”
The historical society is getting some help from the city as well as from the Architectural Heritage Society of Saskatchewan.
“We have a building committee that’s ... working on this ... and we’ll be looking at grant writing and all of that sort of thing ... in the new year,” Honch said.
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to preserve buildings such as the Diefenbaker house, she said.
“Diefenbaker ... was so loved by not only people from this community, but Saskatchewan and Canada-wide," Honch said. "From the tourism perspective that particular building has a huge draw.
“It’s maybe not so much the building itself, because it’s really not architecturally anything really spectacular, but it’s the person who lived in it. We’re hoping we can do the work to preserve and improve this building so that another 100 years from now we can still be telling the story of Mr. Diefenbaker and his importance to Canada.”