Description of Historic Place
The Family Museum sits next to the manor on the picturesque estate grounds of the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada. It is a one-storey, masonry building with a gable roof that forms a pediment on each gable wall. The plain, stone and brick walls of the building are windowless except for the main façade. Decorative elements soften the austerity of the building’s exterior. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Family Museum is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and architectural and environmental value.
The Family Museum, as an added component of an existing seigneurial complex, is associated with the continued occupancy of the estate by the Papineau family. Built at the urging of Amédée Papineau, son and heir of Louis-Joseph, the head of the Petite-Nation seigneurie, the building housed his collection of family portraits, paintings, sculptures and travel mementoes. It was later used as a gymnasium and then converted to a chapel in 1935. The building was subsequently owned by the Seignory Club and then the Canadian Pacific Railway before the Parks Canada Agency became the custodian in 1993.
The Family Museum is valued for its good aesthetic and very good functional design. The design is consistent with the picturesque logic of the estate and reflects a neo-Classical influence with its neo-Roman accents. These elements, including two ceramic medallions representing Diana and Apollo, are the vestiges of a since-vanished program of iconic images from the main façade of the museum. Likely inspired by European museums that Amédée Papineau visited, the building is also similar in functional design to the curiosity shops that were popular in the 19th century. The windowless walls maximize display space and skylights provide ample natural lighting. Good craftsmanship is evident throughout.
The Family Museum reinforces the picturesque character of its estate setting at the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar building at the estate.
Sources: Yvan Fortier et Michel Bédard, Le lieu historique national du Canada du Manoir-Papineau (les édifices relevant de la juridiction de Parcs Canada), Montebello, Québec, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 01-087; Family Museum, Montebello, Québec, Heritage Character Statement, 01-087.
The following character-defining elements of the Family Museum should be respected.
Its good aesthetic and functional design and good craftsmanship and materials, as for example:
- the neo-Classical spirit of the building, as evidenced in its proportions, its solemn massing, and its gable roof forming a pediment on each gable wall;
- the denuded appearance of the exterior, with walls constructed of plain stone and brick without any openings other than those of the main façade;
- the decorative elements that enliven the exterior, such as the neo-Roman cast-iron window with twisted columns, and the ceramic medallions representing Diana and Apollo;
- the features such as the windowless walls that maximize the display space, scissor framing that keeps interior spaces open, skylights to let in overhead natural lighting, and adaptable open space;
- features associated with the building’s initial program of iconic images, reminiscent of curiosity shops as they were designed in the 19th century.
The manner in which the Family Museum reinforces the picturesque character of its estate setting and is a familiar building, as evidenced by:
- its overall scale, design and materials that complement the adjacent manor and the picturesque landscape surroundings;
- its high-profile at the Papineau Estate owing to its location next to the manor, which makes it familiar.