The Manitoba home of a former prime minister hits the market

These days, real estate listings tout the splendours of granite countertops, finished basements or spa showers.

But the listing for one Manitoba home promises aspiring house hunters the chance to live in a former prime minister’s digs.

After a stint on the market last year, the Portage la Prairie, Man. home of former prime minister Arthur Meighen is up for sale once again.

The over 2,400-square-foot, 2.5-storey character home features a formal dining room, oak mouldings, a gas fireplace and the very claw-foot tub that sat in the home when Meighen lived there over a hundred years ago.

According to Portage le Prairie Heritage Advisory Committee chair James Kostuchuk, Meighen first moved to the Manitoba city around 1902 to set up a law firm. He didn’t buy the home on Dufferin Avenue East until 1916. By then he was already twice elected to the House of Commons. He moved in with his wife and three chidren.

“He owned that property until 1928,” Kostuchuk said.

“From the work that our committee did, there’s no record of him owning any other home in Portage after that date. So to the best of our knowledge, that was his home until the family officially left Portage la Prairie.”

Arthur Meighen served as prime minister on two separate occasions, from 1920 to 1921 and in 1926 from June to September. (Source: Archives of Manitoba)

Meighen served as Canada’s prime minister on two separate occasions – from 1920 to 1921 and in 1926 from June to September, though neither were through elections.

The home he left behind on his way to Sussex Drive had various tenants throughout the decades until it was purchased by Eric Vieweg in 1993. By then, it was subdivided into apartments and in need of some serious TLC.

“It was pretty brutal,” Vieweg said in a phone interview with CTV News Winnipeg, recalling the original hardwood floors that were sanded and drilled into oblivion and walls without any insulation.

“I picked it up. I got a reasonable price on it and kind of reluctantly because I knew it was going to be a lot of work.”

It was work that Vieweg, a former cabinet maker and carpenter, was well suited for.

It took him nearly 30 years to restore the home to its former glory, but restore it he did, upgrading the plumbing and wiring, adding new hardwood floors and a wraparound porch. The goal, all the while, was to maintain its historical charm with a modern touch.

(Source: Graham McCallum)

To Kostuchuk, the heritage home’s incredibly handy new owner was a dream come true.

“He was the unicorn purchaser because from a heritage standpoint, he is a person who took a home that needed a lot of work and then proceeded to spend the next 20, 25 years making that home kind of back up to the grandeur that it had when Meighen lived there.”

Grand as it may be, Vieweg has been trying to sell the home for some time, first listing it last year. But after a few promising nibbles, he wasn’t able to reel in a buyer amid uncertain interest rates.

He took it off the market last winter, but has now relisted it. Realtor Meagan McKillop is optimistic they’ll find the right buyer this time around.

“We are going into fall market which is typically a busier time for buying and selling. With the recent hold of the interest rates, I’m hopeful we’ll find the right buyer.”

(Source: Graham McCallum)

Kostuchuk, who has watched in appreciation over the years as the home was lovingly restored, hopes its next chapter will be authored by someone who will enjoy it and its historical significance.

“It has the original bath tub, and that’s the tub where Meighen would have been making decisions about the Winnipeg General Strike. And then the banisters, the rooms that his children would have run through.”

Vieweg, who now lives in Winnipeg, is also eager to see the home he worked on for so many years enjoyed for many more to come.

“It’s a nice family house. It’s got lots of room and if you like a little bit of history, it’s great.”

– With files from CTV’s Devon McKendrick

(Source: Graham McCallum)

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