The History of the Macdonald Family at Villa Les Rochers
For periods of time, over fourteen summers between 1871 and 1890, Sir John A. Macdonald and his family came to St. Patrick and stayed at the house they called Villa Les Rochers.
For all or parts of the months of June, July, August and September of the years 1871, 1873, 1874, 1875, 1879 (their daughter Mary Macdonald only), 1880, 1881 (Mary Macdonald only), 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1889, and 1890, the Macdonalds holidayed at Villa Les Rochers. Up until they purchased the house in 1882, they rented it from the Chouinard family.
In 1882, Lady Agnes Macdonald purchased the original farmhouse and three acres from Benjamin Chouinard, and had an extensive addition erected on the west side. Renovations were also carried out on the original house.
The Macdonalds could not stay at Villa Les Rochers while all the work was being done, so during that summer they rented a house belonging to Thomas McGreevy of Quebec.
The summers that they could not be in St. Patrick included four during which all of Sir John A. and Lady Agnes’s time was taken up with campaigning, and three wherein they traveled elsewhere (twice to England, and once to New Brunswick to visit the Tilleys).
During the summer of 1886 the Macdonalds boarded the train for the inaugural trip across the country, after which they and their daughter spent some time at Villa Les Rochers as well.
Miss Florence Wickham of Montreal shared a memory of that same summer, as a small girl on vacation in Notre-Dame-du-Portage, being taken for a drive through St. Patrick where they passed a “long house” and her mother, exclaiming, pointed out Sir John A. Macdonald standing on the gallery.
During the summer of 1887, Sir John A. was tied to a series of parliamentary sessions in Ottawa, most of which Lady Agnes attended as well.
They offered Villa Les Rochers for rent that summer, advertising in the Quebec Chronicle Telegraph, emphasizing that it was a “large house” with “four large and four small bedrooms”, “beautifully situated on high ground” with an “exclusive view of the Saint Lawrence River”.
As it was fully furnished, with the exception of linens and dishes, and because it had been occupied by Sir John A. Macdonald, they could ask the high price of $150 for the season.
After Sir John A.’s death on June 6, 1891, Lady Agnes and Mary Macdonald stayed at Villa Les Rochers one last time in 1892, lingering late into the autumn. Four years later, Lady Agnes directed that the contents be auctioned, after which she sold the house and property to Sir Thomas Shaughnessy.