Living

At home with the Harpers

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, open the doors of 24 Sussex to Chatelaine for an exclusive visit – and a photo op – with their family.

At home with the Harpers
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, open the doors of 24 Sussex to Chatelaine for an exclusive visit – and a photo op – with their family.

Photos are no longer available.

Twenty-four Sussex Drive is arguably the most important address in the country, a site of power and prestige. But it’s also a family home, where the children sometimes fight, and father, mother, son and daughter gather for breakfast in the kitchen each morning. “I make the [kids’] lunches,” says Laureen Teskey Harper, Canada’s first wife. “There’s no nanny.”

Married 13 years ago in Calgary, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen have two children, 11-year-old Ben and eight-year-old Rachel. “I think people would be surprised,” says Laureen of the degree of ordinariness in the family’s daily routine. She estimates that no more than 10 per cent of their lives changed when her husband was sworn in as this country’s 22nd prime minister. Laureen volunteers at the children’s school and takes Ben to his swimming lessons and Rachel to dance lessons. The PM attends his son’s hockey games and even gets out to see a movie occasionally, though usually it’s a late-night showing. And his security officers always tag along.

“The celebrity of this office, of prime minister, is enormous,” he says. “It’s very difficult, I won’t kid you, to try and give the kids a sense of a normal life.”

“You work at it,” Laureen adds. And when the prime minister talks about what will happen when his political term ends, he sounds nostalgic. “We had a normal, middle-class life before we came here, and that’s the life we’ll return to.” Until then, this is what a day in the life of the Harper home looks like.