Manoir-Papineau is directly associated with Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871), a politician who became the first French-Canadian nationalist leader, a major national historic figure who was the seigneur, designer and first occupant of the house. The building bears outstanding witness to the final period of the seigneurial system in the 19th century, when it played a considerable role as home of the administration and records of the Petite-Nation seigneurie. The building was subsequently owned by the Seignory Club and Canadian Pacific before Parks Canada became the custodian in 1993 and committed to its conservation. It was also named a National Historic Site of Canada in 1986.
The manor stands out due to its unique design, which is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The design reflects the personality, tastes and ambitions of Louis-Joseph Papineau, whose ideas were brought to life by architect Louis Aubertin. Related to neoclassical villas, but drawing on a variety of styles, the imposing stone house consists of a central block flanked by towers. The building’s picturesque architecture blends well with the surrounding landscape and features a number of unusual elements that demonstrate carefully planned strategic use of spaces, such as housing the library in one of the towers, safe from fire. The fine quality of materials and craftsmanship reflects a level of refinement usually found in bourgeois houses of the period. The property as a whole, which is well preserved, includes a number of particularly fine elements, such as the spiral staircase, considered the masterpiece of the interior.
Standing atop Cape Bonsecours, from where it overlooks the Ottawa River, the building embodies the fundamental principle of the character of the setting associated with a 19th-century seigneurial estate. Echoing the picturesque landscape designed in the spirit of A. J. Downing, the manor retains a relatively close link with its setting. The manor benefits from a significant symbolic empowerment making it the most outstanding house and landmark in the area, and transforming it into an increasingly popular tourist attraction.