1.2 Resources that Symbolize or Characterize the Site's National Importance

Today, what is known as the “Papineau estate” is really only a very small part of the original seigneury land10. The Montebello tourist reception centre (the old railway station, relocated) and the adjacent rest area form the eastern boundary of the estate; the Château Montebello property and hotel facilities lie to the west.

The manor house and several outbuildings are on Cape Bonsecours, the highest point of the inhabited part of the estate. Neighbouring land on which other outbuildings are located, including the gardener's cottage and the funeral chapel, is intersected by Papineau Stream and a small tributary, Pesant Stream. Half of the area occupied by the national historic site is covered by an exceptionally diverse forest that contains a number of the original trees; that forest was part of Papineau's vision for the landscape of his estate.

The resources discussed below have been recognized as being symbolic or characteristic of the national significance of the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada. According to Parks Canada's Cultural Resource Management Policy, they are considered “level 1” resources.

Some of the resources associated with the commemorative intent are found outside the boundaries of the property transferred to Parks Canada in 1993; these resources are indicated by an asterisk.


On the portion of the seigneurial estate occupied by the national historic site11, the layout of the estate as conceived by Louis-Joseph Papineau and his son Amédée is still clearly visible. The tastes and social aspirations of the seigneur of La Petite-Nation are all reflected here.

Cape Bonsecours and its surroundings were extensively landscaped, with clearings interspersed throughout a woodland area intersected by winding trails. Clearly, Louis-Joseph Papineau (through his son Amédée, who was a fervent follower of Andrew Jackson Downing)12, was largely inspired by English gardens when he planned this part of the estate. In seeking the “picturesque” effect, Papineau made good use of the site's potential. The manor house stands atop the cape, with a view over several kilometres to the east and west, and overlooks the right bank of the Ottawa River. The area immediately surrounding the manor house still has traces of flower beds dating back to the time of the Papineau family. On the southern slope of Cape Bonsecours are the remains of stepped flower beds, footpaths and rest areas created by the family. In front of the main entrance to the manor house, facing north, Papineau had cleared fields below the cape. Symbolically speaking, he had created a farm setting alongside a park designed for recreation, leisure and reverie...

Even today, the vast woodland park alongside Cape Bonsecours is intersected by the old, slightly undulating Manor House Road, and by Papineau Stream and its tributary, Pesant Stream. The various trails laid out by Papineau and his son in the park, on the cape and below the cape are for the most part still visible.

The entrance to the estate consists of a gate* that marks the beginning of Manor House Road. The current gate of stone and wrought iron was installed by the Seigniory Club and beside it is the gatekeeper's office. It replaced the old gate that was there at the time of the Papineau family. Near the entrance gate is the gardener's cottage*, which was built around the same time as the manor and was where the keeper of the estate lived.

Manor House Road and the bridge, circa 1915
Manor House Road and the bridge, circa 1915
The picturesque Manor House Road winds through the woodland park and crosses Papineau Stream over a rustic log bridge.

© Parks Canada / Fonds Jacqueline Papineau-Desbaillets (GA-171; S-80-6) Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg.: 206/ic-1G/PR-6/S-80, n° 6

The Papineau family built a simple network of interconnecting roads to get around the estate and they are still in use today: Manor House Road, that links the eastern point of the cape to the public road (today Highway 148), Cape Road, which crosses the cape from east to west and leads to Green Road*, built to link the area where the farm buildings are located, at the foot of the western end of the cape, and the public road. Green Road was closed off by a gate where it joined the public road, as was Manor House Road, to provide some privacy to the seigneur and his family. Today, Green Road is for the most part narrower than its original width and has been paved.

Manor House Road winds its way through the woodland, leading to the manor. Its original path and width have been preserved and it is still covered with gravel. The road starts off by descending toward a recently constructed bridge that crosses Papineau Stream; the original bridge was made of logs. Near the bridge, the lazy flow of the stream is interrupted by a small waterfall created during the time of the Papineau family. After the bridge, Manor House Road goes up and comes to a small clearing where you see the family funeral chapel* and cemetery* surrounded by a wrought iron fence*. The road then turns south and climbs up Cape Bonsecours. The carefully designed route uses the estate's topography in such a way that the manor house is still hidden from sight. Only after walking about a hundred metres do you finally see the northeast corner of the building. On the cape, Manor House Road joins Cape Road, which runs along the front and west side of the manor, before turning toward the granary and stable* to join Green Road. Cape Road is now paved and its path has been modified to the west of the manor house.

Large lawns surround the manor house. The front lawn is highlighted by a century-old red oak that was there at the time of Papineau. Tall pines form a backdrop for the landscape. To the northeast of the lawn, at the end of a flagstone path, a rustic-looking log kiosk (campanile) is nestled in a thick grove. To the south of the manor house, another lawn dotted with tall poplars and cedars stretches toward the Ottawa River. A curtain of maples, lilacs and honeysuckles borders the east and south lawn. The eye is also drawn to a giant white pine, once surrounded by a circular wooden lookout; When Papineau's relatives or guests came to stay at the manor house he would climb up to the lookout to watch them as they arrived or departed. Another extensive lawn dotted with tall trees lies to the west of the manor house. On the east side of the residence, some of the lawn was taken up by the extension that was added to the manor.

To the south of Cape Road, the old vegetable garden has been replaced with a gently sloping lawn. A snowberry hedge and plantations of evergreens separate this area from the road. Wide rough limestone steps lined with peonies and hydrangeas lead to the vegetable garden.

South of the vegetable garden are the terraces, formerly referred to as the “south hill”, on which vines and fruit trees were once planted. The orchard is no longer there but has been replaced by a wide variety of plant species. Vestiges of a stone wall, steps and rest areas give visitors an idea of what it must have looked like in Papineau's time.

The tea pavilion is located with its back to the river.A wooden trellis leaning against the stone foundation reminds visitors that vines were once grown there. On the west side, a stone wall curves to join an older stone stairway that leads to the terraces. Even overgrown with vegetation, the original landscape is still visible.

The Papineau family created four meadows* on the estate, although none are part of the present-day national historic site. Two of the meadows have been partially eliminated because of modern-day additions: the tourist reception centre is located on the old horse pasture*; Château Montebello and its outbuildings stand on the site of the Anse aux Vaches Meadow*. However, the gardener's cottage meadow* and the barn meadow* (today partially covered by tennis courts) still bear witness to the layout of the estate at the time of the Papineau family.

As the site still shows today, Louis-Joseph Papineau and his son divided the vast property of the inhabited part of the estate into the park, the lawns, the garden and the meadows, creating their own “environmental paradise” as envisioned by Papineau. According to their initial design, the park consisted of the existing forest that was to be preserved and, of course, maintained, with the addition of selected species. The park included the path followed by Manor House Road, a small waterfall added to Papineau Stream and a second access road, Green Road that ran parallel to Manor House Road and linked the area of the farming buildings to the public road. The lawns were extensive grassy areas that surrounded the seigneurial residence and included flower beds, some trees, shrubs and outdoor furniture. The flower bed was combined with a vegetable garden, providing a skilful association of flowers and vegetables that took up the entire southern slope of Cape Bonsecours. The meadows were used for growing field grasses (barn meadow), for market gardening (gardener's cottage meadow) or for putting the animals out to pasture (the Anse aux Vaches and horse pasture meadows).

Aerial view of the Monte-Bello estate in 1929
Aerial view of the Monte-Bello estate in 1929.
This outstanding photograph provides a view of the Cape Bonsecours landscape: Manor House Road as it comes up to the residence, Cape Road forming a loop around the manor, trails, the vegetable garden, Green Road crossing the meadows, the barn meadow (on the right) and the Anse aux Vaches Meadow (on the left). In the background, the woodland park. The photo shows the picturesque setting formed by the residence and holiday resort lying alongside the more mundane world of farming.

© Parks Canada / Magazine The Seigneur, summer 1964; photo that appeared in an article by J.J. Willis. Reproduction: Parks Canada, neg.: 206/ic/PR-6/S-160, n° 6


The Manor House

Keystone of the grand project for the ideal estate envisioned by Louis-Joseph Papineau, the seigneurial manor is a huge rectangular stone building whose original design included four towers. Two were built at the end of the intensive period of construction that lasted from 1848 to 1850. On the south-west corner, another smaller tower housing the latrines was built around the same time as the corner towers and in the same octagonal design. Then Papineau had another tower built, square this time, to house the library; it dates back to 1856, but another floor was added in 1880 by Amédée Papineau, who inherited the estate upon the death of his father. One year later he built an extension to the drawing room that was referred to as the “blue room”, a five-sided annex. A fire destroyed the octagonal roof of one of the towers in 1892 and it was replaced by the conical roof that we see today.

The building's somewhat eclectic composition is an illustration of the Picturesque movement. In the words of Papineau's eldest son, the side facing the river “resembles a Normandy manor house”. The lateral walls and the front wall are typical of grand homes of the Regency era, with the long veranda protected by an overhanging cantilevered roof. An observation deck atop the roof shows the decisive influence of the Picturesque movement. The windows on the main façade are definitely of the classical style, as is the piano mobile (Italian for “noble floor”, meaning the main floor), with its unquestionably classic large bay windows.

The Neo-Classical entranceway door opens up onto a main hall of classic design. The basement level housed the kitchen, panty, wine cellar and servants' quarters. The servants also had rooms in the attic, while the family's bedrooms were located on the main floor.

One particular feature of this grand residence is clearly its towers. One tower housed exclusively a cantilevered winding staircase that linked all the floors. In the early years, the two lower floors of the other tower were used as a greenhouse until a new greenhouse was built in 1881 in the basement of the “blue room”.

The role played by Louis-Joseph Papineau in designing the manor is evident in a variety of ways: the number of windows, the presence of towers and the layout of the rooms. His role becomes even clearer, however, if we consider his initial design; Papineau wanted his manor house to project the image of a “feudal castle” flanked by four towers, a kind of eagle's nest whose summit would provide magnificent vistas in all directions. Several modifications were made to the manor as it was being built, but when it came to the construction of his favourite part, the library, built in 1856, he crowned the tower with a Neo-Gothic roof, leading Amédée Papineau to jokingly refer to it as “the dungeon”. The feudal character of the estate was reinforced with the construction of a henhouse with a pigeon coop at the top of the escarpment, overlooking the river, on the site of the present-day tea pavilion. According to feudal law, a pigeon coop symbolized the authority of the seigneur. The library was designed to safeguard Papineau's impressive collection of books, and to house an office for the safekeeping of seigneury archives and for receiving censitaires (tenant farmers).

The fact that Louis-Joseph Papineau built “Monte-Bello” more for his descendants than for himself once again says something about his personality. He was apparently open to suggestions – the angle of the roof of the manor, the observation deck, the unique veranda and the iconography on the balcony on the south wall are features that are the result of decidedly important remarks made by his son Amédée. Also of note is that both Papineau and his son chose to use national symbols as decorative elements, namely the beaver and the crown of maple leaves.

The manor house, circa 1915
The manor house, circa 1915
The photograph shows the south-west corner of the back of the manor, with its two tall octagonal towers, the smaller latrine tower and the square tower housing the library.

© Parks Canada / Fonds Renée Papineau-Christie (FA-510; S-54-5) Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg.: 206/ic-1F/PR-6/S-54, n° 5

The Outbuildings

In addition to the manor house, the seigneurial estate originally included a number of outbuildings, many of which are still standing today. They were all built in the 19th century and strongly evoke the various eras of the former Papineau estate.

The granary, built in 1855, was initially used to store grain brought to the seigneur by censitaires, who paid their rent and dues in kind. The building was conveniently located on the estate, near the gate to Cape Road, which served as the manor's service road.

The granary is a brick structure built on a stone foundation and topped with a gable roof supported by Neo-Gothic brackets. On the front, the roof has a small garret topped by a spire and a weather vane.

Facade and west lateral wall of the granary, circa 1920
Facade and west lateral wall of the granary, circa 1920

© Parks Canada / Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg.: 206/ic-1F/PR-6/S-27, n° 10

The interior of the granary includes a basement accessible only from the outside, the main floor and a roomy attic with access via an indoor staircase. Louis-Joseph Papineau's son-in-law, artist Napoléon Bourassa, had his studio on the upper floor of the granary between 1858 and 1871. This room is of particular interest because its walls and ceiling are still covered with fresco-style drawings and paintings.

The front of the manor house (before 1930)
The front of the manor house (before 1930)
Note, on the left, one of the walls of the annex or “blue room” built in 1881 by Amédée Papineau.

© Parks Canada / Fonds Clara Barbara Joy (SA/JA-50; S-124-8) Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg.: 206/ic-1S/PR-6/S-124, n° 8

In 1880, Amédée Papineau had a building constructed near the manor house to serve as the family museum. The rectangular shape of the building is a Neo-Classical design and it has a gabled roof. Each of the gabled ends of the roof forms a broken pediment. Composed of girders supporting the ridge beam, the structural frame consists of trusses in the form of Saint-Andrew's crosses, which allows for a greater volume inside the building. All of the walls of the family museum are brick, except for the façade, which is stone and has two Neo-Roman features: a full-centre arch doorway topped by an unusual-looking three-paned window framed by colonnettes.

Around 1920, the Papineau family began to empty the museum of the various objects they had accumulated there and that can be seen in eloquent period photographs. The building was then apparently used as a gymnasium.

View of the stone façade of the east gable wall of the museum built by Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau (before 1929)
View of the stone façade of the east gable wall of the museum built by Louis-Joseph-Amédée Papineau (before 1929)

© Parks Canada / Fonds Jacqueline Papineau-Desbaillets.
Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg.: 206/ic-1G/PR-6/S-65, n° 10
Interior of the family museum, circa 1900
Interior of the family museum, circa 1900

© Parks Canada / Fonds Renée Papineau-Christie (Fa-033)
Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg. : 206/ic-1F/PR-6/S-11, n° 1

In 1935, it was turned into an Anglican church – Christ Church – and continues to be used as such today.

The tea pavilion is associated with the Papineau family both in terms of its foundation, laid during the time of Louis-Joseph Papineau, and its wooden frame that dates back to the time of his son Amédée. In 1860, Louis-Joseph Papineau had a stone henhouse-pigeon coop built and in 1887 a greenhouse was built over the same foundation. Around 1913, the upper part of the greenhouse was demolished and the remainder became the tea pavilion. The building has been repaired numerous times since then. Its square wood frame exceeds the masonry foundation on three sides. Today, the pavilion, which resembles the upper part of an Italianate tower, consists of: a wainscoted base supporting four glassed-in sides framed between pilasters. It has a canopied roof that was topped with a crowning balustrade, which was recently removed. Inside, the pavilion has a boarded ceiling. The masonry foundation is built on a rock outcrop. The tea pavilion is representative of all the phases of the Papineaus' occupancy of the estate, but particularly the period just before the estate was sold, when the family would relax and drink tea in the pavilion during the summer.

The tea pavilion, circa 1915
The tea pavilion, circa 1915

© Parks Canada / Fonds Jacqueline Papineau-Desbaillets (GA-162; S-79-10)
Reproduction: Parks Canada Neg.: 206/ic-1G/PR-6/S-79, n° 10

One of Louis-Joseph's sons, Gustave Papineau, died at the manor house in December 1851 and was buried in the parish church. This death in the family inspired Louis-Joseph and Amédée Papineau with the idea of building a family mausoleum, the present-day funeral chapel*. It was built of stone in 1853-1854, in a style described at the time as “rustic Gothic”, as seen in the corner buttresses flanking the façade, the pointed arch entrance and the design of the frame that incorporates the pointed arch, the false ceiling boss, and the ever-present plasterwork décor (brackets, consoles, statuettes, relief paintings, columns, etc.). The chapel was designed by Amédée Papineau and its construction was overseen by either his father or himself.

The funeral chapel in 1993
The funeral chapel in 1993

© Parks Canada / Parks Canada, Collection Imagerie
Photo: Jean Audet, neg.: 206/00/PR-6/S-33, n° 3

Six generations of the Papineau family have been buried either in the crypt or in the small cemetery beside the chapel. Various maintenance projects carried out during the 1900s have not affected the integrity of this exceptional building. The funeral chapel is a concrete representation of the symbiosis between the concept of a seigneurial family and that of the seigneury itself, a relationship so close that the body of Joseph Papineau, to whom La Petite-Nation owes its beginnings, was brought from Montréal to be buried here, in spite of the fact that the Papineau family had strong roots in Montréal, reinforcing the symbolism of the “founding family” of a dynasty of seigneurs.

The chapel still has all its original furnishings, including a Neo-Gothic altar and accessories, a large number of mostly plaster statues, high-relief plaster detailing and funeral plaques. Handed over to Heritage Canada in 1974, the funeral chapel was classified as a cultural asset the following year. A local community group, the Société historique Louis-Joseph-Papineau, is responsible for the chapel and opens it to visitors.

The kiosk (former campanile) dates back to 1880. Its structure, form and even function were directly inspired by the work of Andrew Jackson Downing. It was one of Amédée Papineau's initiatives and was originally situated near the north-east corner of the manor house as a tower to house the bell of the first church donated to the fabrique (parish council) by Louis-Joseph and Julie Papineau in 1821. The bell tower and its bell marked important moments in life at the manor house until at least 1903, i.e. until the death of Amédée Papineau. It was moved to the northeast corner of the lawn in front of the manor house in 1929-1930. A rustic bench was added and it was then used as a kiosk.

Near the present-day northeast entrance gate to the estate is the gardener's cottage* – this brick “gothic cottage” as it was jokingly referred to by Papineau's eldest son, was constructed in 1855 and served as living quarters for the gardener, who controlled access to the estate. It resembles the English cottages that were fashionable at the time. Louis-Joseph Papineau became interested in building the cottage in 1852 and possibly renting it out. He decided otherwise, however, and used it as living quarters for the gardener, locating it close to the park entrance so that the gardener could control access to the estate. At that time he had already chosen the type of windows for the cottage, diamond-paned windows – a style he had seen in England. The outside of the cottage has changed very little. Members of the Papineau family have lived in it at various times over the years. In 1930 the Seigniory Club began renovating the interior, adding a kitchen, and it became the living quarters for the private club's general manager and his family. It has continued to be used as such to the present day, which explains why it was not included in the transfer of property in 1993.

The gardener's cottage in 1993
The gardener's cottage in 1993

© Parks Canada / Parks Canada, Collection Imagerie
Photo: Jean Audet, neg.: 206/00/PR-6/S-31, n° 11

The present stable* was built after 1963; only the masonry foundation dates back to the time of the Papineau family. This lower level was used as barn for livestock. The stable we see today is the third to have been built on the same foundation.


The site's archaeological resources provide strong support for the main period covered by the commemorative intent. The architectural changes made to the manor house during the time of Louis-Joseph Papineau are archaeologically documented by the building's structural elements, as well as by stratigraphic contexts and artefacts located nearby (the dump site and other sites).

Numerous archaeological indicators are still present on the grounds of the national historic site and in the surrounding area –indicators that attest to Seigneur Louis-Joseph Papineau's design of his estate. Vestiges of changes made to certain buildings and to how they were used over the years are still evident: the granary, the gardener's cottage* and shed*, and the funeral chapel* and small cemetery*. These and vestiges of buildings no longer standing, such as the miller's house*, the mill*, the farmhouse* located near the entrance to the horse pasture*, a sugar shack*, several barns*... are all a testament to Papineau's vision for his estate.

The greenhouse built by Louis-Joseph Papineau on the south wall of the manor shows his interest in horticulture and consequently the importance he attached to the landscaping of his estate.

Furthermore, many of the site's archaeological resources are associated with landscaping features (vestiges of paths, road, trails and stairways; remains of bridges and foot bridges*, meadows*, fences* and gates*; vestiges of gardens, flower beds, a fountain, a grotto, beaver and fish ponds, a dike and a waterfall, drainage systems, etc.).

Other archaeological resources reveal certain aspects of the Papineau family's life on their estate. To date, research shows that the estate was carefully maintained by the family over the second half of the 19th century. This no doubt shows their desire to project an “image of distinction” to visitors and to the inhabitants of the seigneury and the surrounding area. We can therefore assume that various dumps sites would have been located on the estate for the disposal of garbage and waste. Several trenches throughout the wooded area northeast of the manor house may have served as landfill sites for the content of latrines, which had to be emptied regularly before flush toilets were installed at the end of the 19th century.

The kiosk - or rustic campanile - and vestiges of the icehouse located north-east of the manor house, in 1929
The kiosk - or rustic campanile - and vestiges of the icehouse located north-east of the manor house, in 1929

© Parks Canada / Fonds Anne Bourassa
Reproduction Parks Canada, Neg. : 206/ic-1D/PR-6/S-01, n° 9

Some of the architectural and stratigraphic remains are indicative of the comfortable lifestyle of the Papineau family, before the advent of modern conveniences, and of the basic necessities of everyday life. An example of this is the impressive stone remains of the icehouse situated to the north-east of the manor house. There are also resources associated with the way in which existing buildings and landscaping elements were used after the death of Louis-Joseph Papineau, as well as structures (museum, tea pavilion, campanile/ kiosk, manor house annex) and landscaping features (trails, plantings, fountain) that were subsequently added, by Amédée Papineau in particular. Finally, resources associated with heating, lighting, and the water and sewers systems, all essential to life at the manor house, should not be forgotten.

The archaeological collection includes construction materials, some of which were damaged by a fire in 1892, pieces of hardware, and objects associated with cooking (dishes, earthenware and stoneware containers, bottles...), gardening (flower pots, soil and plant samples), personal hygiene and leisure activities.

The “yellow room” in 1886
The “yellow room” in 1886
A portrait of Louis-Joseph Papineau, decorated with a garland marking the centennial of his birth, has a place of honour in the most prestigious room of the elegant first floor of the manor house: the drawing room. Papineau had purchased the light fixture in the centre especially for Monte-Bello; the arched cornices above the windows were brought from the Papineau family's Montréal residence on Bonsecours Street.

© Parks Canada / Fonds Renée Papineau-Christie.
Reproduction: Parks Canada, neg.: 206/ic-1F/PR-6/S-63, n° 11

Some of the items in the collection reveal information about areas around the manor house: the greenhouse built on its south wall, the icehouse, the garden located to the south of Cape Road, and the area between the manor house and the granary.


Major collections of objects and archives have been identified that marked life at the manor house at the time of Louis-Joseph Papineau, and particularly around the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A good number of these objects, still owned by descendants of the Papineau family, collectors and antique dealers, have been donated to Parks Canada. Some of the objects from the manor house are in institutions or museums, and are available on loan or for reproduction purposes.

To date, a list of more than 800 objects from these various collections has been drawn up. These objects have enabled us to recreate the context of family life in a seigneurial manor. The artefacts have increased our knowledge of the furnishings that were on the main floor and part of the upper floor, with many details of articles such as paintings, silverware, glassware and personal objects that were present in this bourgeois residence.

Other pieces have been identified in various locations in the Château Montebello hotel, in particular two statues (one “Indian” and one “Diane”) that once adorned the entrance to the museum and were part of the site's landscaping décor. An additional 33 objects belong to or are being held by the Société historique Louis-Joseph-Papineau in Montebello.

The Parks Canada collection is composed of pieces of furniture, accessories, decorative elements and garments from the site. The collection also includes a number of documents (posters, maps, cadastres) that provide information about, for example, the administration of the seigneury. At the present time, the collection includes 74 objects that relate to the site's commemorative intent. A group of 482 objects (pieces of furniture, light fixtures, pictorial works, rugs, draperies, mirrors, knick-knacks, and reading, writing and handicraft materials), cannot, for the time being, be associated with the commemorative intent and have been identified as property once belonging to the Seigniory Club. The value of these items has yet to be determined.

  1. This represents less than 1% of the area covered by the estate at the time of Louis-Joseph Papineau.
  2. Hemmed in between the Ottawa River and Highway 148 (Notre-Dame Street) to the north, the national historic site covers approximately 15.5 hectares.
  3. Andrew Jackson Downing (1815-1852), an American architect and landscape gardener, was known for his publications on gardening and landscape architecture. He became internationally renowned following the publication of his Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening in 1841.

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