Lady Agnes Macdonald, the wife of Canada’s first Prime Minister, was so enamoured of Banff during an 1886 transcontinental trip that she visited Banff regularly thereafter. Each occasion was celebrated in a small cottage she called “Earnscliffe,” after the barony in Scotland bequeathed to her husband by Queen Victoria.
After a few years Lady Macdonald leased this property from its owners, the Canadian Pacific Railway. The cottage remained in her estate until 1916.
Legend has it that the Baroness was an adventurous woman who possessed a combination of cultural propriety, flair and unbridled energy which made her the perfect hostess for high society visitors to Banff. On one occasion, she even staged a “polar bear hunt” for her guests, using a team of dogs and a custom-made sleigh.
Despite her love of Banff, Lady Macdonald eventually returned to live in Ottawa. However, she continued to visit Earnscliffe every summer until her death in 1920. Today, the cottage is open to the public as a museum dedicated to the memory of this remarkable woman.
Lady MacDonald’s Earnscliffe Cottage is a beautiful and well-preserved piece of Canadian history. Built in 1885, the cottage was the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and his wife Lady Agnes.
The cottage is located on the grounds of the Banff Springs Hotel, in Banff National Park, Alberta. The hotel and cottage are both owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
The cottage is open to the public for tours, and is a popular spot for weddings and other special events.
Visitors to the cottage can see many of the original furnishings and features, including the old fireplace with its poetic inscription. The cottage is also home to a number of Canadian Pacific Railway employees.
The Earnscliffe cottage is a beautiful and well-preserved example of Canadian history. If you are ever in Banff National Park, be sure to take the time to visit this fascinating piece of our past.