Laureen Teskey Harper was born in 1963 in Turner Valley, a rural town in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, southwest of Calgary. Her parents were ranchers and tradesmen, and owned an electrical contracting company.
Growing up, she developed a lifelong passion for the outdoors and a concern for the proper care of animals. The Teskey home was always a safe refuge for stray pets and animals in need. As a teen, Laureen competed in barrel racing, and when she has the chance she still loves to ride horses and attend rodeo events. Laureen has long had a love for animals of all sizes. This didn’t end when her family moved to Ottawa; 24 Sussex, the official residence of the Prime Minister and his family, is often a foster home to kittens waiting to be adopted from the Ottawa Humane Society.
Laureen graduated from Oilfields High School and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, where she studied photography and graphic arts. After graduation from SAIT she spent six months travelling in Africa, visiting 13 countries – an adventure that continues to inspire her love of hiking and her interest in learning about other cultures.
Before moving to Ottawa, Laureen ran a successful graphic arts business in Calgary. She still fosters her love of photography and art in her spare time. Her interest in politics was sparked early in her career, when she attended a speech by Senator Stan Waters, Canada’s first elected senator, and heard Diane Ablonczy encouraging young women to get involved in public life.
Married since 1993, Laureen and Stephen Harper have two energetic teenagers. Their son Benjamin was born in 1996, and their daughter Rachel in 1999. Laureen has a keen sense of adventure and enjoys accompanying her husband on official business at home and abroad. She also loves to take in the Canadian wilderness during summer camping and hiking excursions with friends.
Laureen is a generous volunteer and supporter of important community and national causes. Known for her work with the Ottawa Humane Society, she is also a strong advocate for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Society, the Trans Canada Trail, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Red Cross Tiffany Circle, the True Patriot Love Foundation, and CLICK programs in children’s hospitals.