Prime Ministers’ Row to launch project this spring

Goal: A Sandy Hill street museum

Suneeta Millington

If you live in Sandy Hill, chances are you’ve heard something about the Prime Ministers’ Row (PMR) initiative. Maybe you listened to an interview about it on CBC in 2016, noticed that it was referenced in the NCC’s 2017 Official Plan for Canada’s Capital or read about it in the Globe and Mail last year. But since then, you’ve probably heard very little about what’s going on with the project, and you may have been curious as to why.

Well, the good news is that behind the scenes things have never been busier for this grassroots, citizen-led initiative. And the better news is that the official launch of our project is just a few months away.

History hiding in our streetscapes

Sandy Hill has an extraordinary national and international history hiding in its streetscapes, green spaces and heritage buildings that most Canadians have never heard of. We want to change that. PMR is working to transform Laurier Avenue East and its environs into a world-class Street Museum—a gathering place for all Canadians. It will be the sole venue in Canada dedicated to the lives and legacies of all of Canada’s Prime Ministers—almost half of whom lived in Sandy Hill—and on understanding the impact of their ideas, initiatives and institutions on the country today. Moreover, it will be the only public-realm space in the entire country focused on citizen engagement around Canadian leadership in governance and democracy.

We’ll do this through a massive infrastructure transformation of the streetscape itself; through the addition of structural embellishments (think urban furniture, lighting fixtures, public art, landscaping elements and wayfinding signage) to the streets, parks and sidewalks of the neighbourhood; through the creation of interactive digital and multimedia platforms; and through the launch of an ongoing programming and events calendar.

Every aspect of our work will be steered by five guiding principles. Specifically, we aim to focus on national legacies; connect with modern Canadians; include multiple perspectives; present unexpected stories; and create an immersive visitor experience. In so doing, we are committed to fulfilling all of the relevant Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action related to Museums and Archives.

Next step in the fall, community consultations

So where are we at? Our three-year Ideation and Conceptualization Phase concluded this winter. This initial period saw us establish and grow our organization, receive Charitable Status and build out the initial concept for this project. In the fall of 2019, our next step will be to launch the Planning and Design process. This process will incorporate extensive community consultations and will culminate in the creation of our Strategic Interpretive Plan and our Functional Design Plan which together represent the blueprint for all elements of the initiative—interpretive, programmatic and physical. Subsequently, we’ll begin our Implementation Phase with a national Capital Campaign in support of the (infra)structural transformations that will take place over the following two to three years.

Thanks to early support from citizens across Canada as well as corporate support from iconic national companies like Gowling WLG, Urban Strategies, TD Bank and Earnscliffe Strategy Group, the creation of this unique national legacy project is within reach. In fact, we’re well on track to fully implement this initiative within a five-year timeframe.

We’re also thrilled to be collaborating with Canadian firm GSM Project to help us get there. GSM is a major pioneering player in the field of visitor experiences and exhibitions and has been creating transformative cultural spaces around the world for over sixty years, from the Netherlands, Singapore and the UAE to India and the United States. Here in Canada, you’ve likely seen their work in institutions like the Canadian Canoe Museum, the Museum of History and the McCord Museum.

You can help

We can’t achieve our next steps without you, however. Here’s how you can help:

Firstly, reach out to our elected representatives—we need the government’s support to make this vision a reality. Mayor Watson, Councillor Fleury, MPP Des Rosier and MP Fortier need to hear that this is a project that matters to you. Let Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Michael Tibollo and Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage Pablo Rodriguez know as well. Helpful correspondence templates and contacts can be found via our website at

Secondly, make sure to sign up for our mailing list and follow us on social media to get updates and insights. Our website has all the links.

Finally, make a monthly donation. Grassroots financial support is absolutely critical to our ability to build a healthy, sustainable organization that can manage this project. Become a “Friend of PMR” through a tax-deductible contribution on our Canada Helps page ( or consider joining PMR’s Founder’s Circle with a more significant gift. You can find out more about this unique giving opportunity by emailing

PMR’s vision is bold and ambitious. We will create a new view of Canada, transforming the way Canadians see their history and in so doing will unleash the tremendous economic, social and cultural potential of this historic place. By creating a legacy that forever changes the face of Canada’s Capital in a unique and unexpected way, we will celebrate our national identity, will protect a significant cultural landscape for future Canadians, will create a sense of belonging for citizens across the country and will improve the quality of life for Ottawans across the city.

We hope you will join us in making it all happen!