Canadian Contractor

Comparing a 24 Sussex Drive renovation to Drake’s Toronto palace

Which is better value? A $38-million renovation or a new-build palace for less than half?

March 28, 2017
By John Bleasby

When it comes to homes big and brassy, everything that’s old is new again, and everything that’s new is made to look old again. Two of Canada’s most famous publicity hounds, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto-born rapper Drake, know how to ‘go big or go home.’ Both have houses either under extensive renovation or under construction from scratch. Given the considerable scope and cost of the projects, it’s worth considering the similarities and differences of each.

24 Sussex; making an old building new again
It is generally acknowledged that 24 Sussex Drive, the traditional home of Canada’s Prime Minister for almost 70 years, needs serious renovation. Back in 2008 during the lean days of the Harper era, the National Capital Commission, owners and operator of the building, estimated that $10 million would be required to bring insulation, wiring, mechanical, windows and other basics up to present day standards. That increased to $13.5 million when landscaping changes to better secure the property were taken into consideration.

The majority of Canadians surveyed felt that the Prime Minister’s residence should be replaced if renovation costs are as high as the reported $38-million

Later, news leaked out that another $12-million would be required to build an extension annex and to replace the pool and pool house built for Trudeau’s father in 1975, paid for then largely by private donations. The on-line Canadian political publication iPolitics then reported that the total cost had crept up to $38 million for the whole job according to documents they had obtained from Marshall & Murray Incorporated, development consultants, and Ottawa-based KWC Architects.

After these new estimates were released, a survey by Nanos Research Group indicated that 54 per cent of Canadians surveyed coast-to-coast felt the old pile at 24 Sussex Drive should simply be taken down instead and a new home built from the ground up.


Given the $38-million estimate for the Sussex Drive renovation, it’s worth considering what Canadian rapper Drake (full name Aubrey Drake Graham) is getting for almost half that amount for his new-build palace at the north end of Toronto, particularly when one learns about the over-the-top lifestyle touches Drake is including in his abode.

Toronto born rapper ‘Drake’ has much in common with Prime Minister Trudeau such as a love for the camera. However, like his fortune, Drake’s home will be built from the ground up

Drake built his palace from the ground up, just like his fortune
Drake’s opulent hideaway is in the Toronto suburb of North York, in the exclusive Bridle Path neighbourhood. The area boasts such luminary residents as former media baron and convicted felon Conrad Black, singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, and a sundry assortment of real estate and business tycoons. Drake bought the property for $6.7 million last September through a numbered company in Nova Scotia, and tore down the existing house.

The 29-year-old Drake gained his wealth, estimated in 2016 at $60 million by Forbes magazine, the classic rags-to-riches fashion. way. Raised by his mother in the basement of a rented Toronto townhouse, he was a child star on the Canadian TV hit series Degrassi: The Next Generation back in 2001. In addition to his recording and personal appearance empire, Drake is also the ‘global ambassador’ for the Toronto Raptors, a local basketball team. Drake already owns a mansion in Hidden Hills, California which he purchased for an estimated $8 million in 2012.

Drake’s new digs: Everything that’s new looks old again

Plans, photos and videos reveal that for his money, Drake will get a faux-17th century Versailles look-alike with a stick frame substructure covered in plywood sheeting, then sheathed with stone facing.  The enclosed 21,000 square feet of living space includes an indoor basketball court, colonnaded pool, trophy room containing a collection of old sports team jerseys (which

Drake’s massive 21,000 square foot palace in North York, ON has a under-structure of 2x6s and plywood.

the publicist calls “important artifacts”), champagne and wine tasting rooms, and a spa retreat including a hot tub along with other features now commonplace in the homes of global media stars. Although estimates of costs have not been released, they are expected to be less than half of the $38-million Sussex Drive renovation.

Elements of Drake’s plans contravened municipal zoning, forcing a request for a number of minor variances. For example, the planned driveway exceeds the nine metre maximum, the building itself is several metres higher than the 11 metres allowed, and has too many large outdoor platforms (rooftop terraces). Landscaping plans also called for the cutting of about 30 trees. Construction has proceeded nevertheless.

Who’s getting the best value for their money?
In this context, does the renovation of 24 Sussex Drive make sense?

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2 Comments » for Comparing a 24 Sussex Drive renovation to Drake’s Toronto palace
  1. Marten says:

    Over the top cost don’t surprise me at all. Just look at the work on Parliament Hill. It would be cheaper to tear it all down and build new but that would not be good. Anything our government does costs way more then it should but when someone gets a hold of the purse it is easy to spend other peoples money.

    • joe says:

      Everyone is acting like your building a residence for a run of the mill celebrity. This isn’t a mansion for a star it’s the residence for the Prime Minister, the Leader of our Country. There has to be 10x the security of most other homes. You have to have rooms for security, offices for the PM and possibly people who might have to work out of the home in extenuating circumstances, people to make food, clean, maintain the property so we don’t have to do this all again, a safe room or multiple safe rooms for the PM and his family, etc. Repairing and restoration are probably only 15 million, the rest is making sure the PM is secure and provided for and that he can host from the home if needs be. He’s the leader of our country and regardless of people deciding that no matter who’s in power he’s a complete and total bastard because apparently no matter what a PM does that’s how people will talk about him the man and his family need to be safe. Not for them but for the country.

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