140 Sussex Drive
Written by Bytown Museum
Earnscliffe was built between 1855 and 1857 by John MacKinnon, Thomas MacKay's son-in-law. Subsequent owners included Thomas Keefer, another son-in-law of MacKay and Thomas Reynolds, a railway man from England.
It was during Reynolds tenure that Earnscliffe got its name. Reynolds was considering naming the home Eaglecliffe when his friend Sir John A. Macdonald suggested the Old English word for eagle – earn. It seems appropriate that Macdonald named Earnscliffe, as he is certainly its most famous resident to date.
Sir John A. Macdonald and his wife Agnes lived at Earnscliffe from 1883 to 1891, when Macdonald passed away in his study. During their time there, several renovations were undertaken to enlarge the home to accommodate the growing numbers of parties and houseguests. The renovations cost the Macdonald's $7,000 – a tidy sum, considering they paid just over $10,000 for the house.
In 1930, the British High Commission took over Earnscliffe, and it is still used as the Commissioner's official residence today.
Did you know that Queen Victoria conferred the title of Baroness Macdonald of Earnscliffe upon Lady Macdonald following her husband's death?