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Guests, Neighbours and Visitors of the Macdonald family in St. Patrick

The Macdonalds often hosted guests at Villa Les Rochers, including family members such as Sir John A.’s sister Louisa, Lady Macdonald’s mother Theodora Hewitt and brother Hewitt Bernard.

A formal black and white portrait of Louisa Macdonald, a woman standing in a full-length black dress, holding one hand on the back of a chair. Her dark hair is parted in the middle and arranged at the back. Her expression is distant and serious.

Louisa Macdonald, sister of Sir john A. Macdonald, date unknown


A black and white photo of Sir Hewitt Bernard in woolen short coat and striped trousers, his legs crossed, resting his right arm on a round table and a book or ledger in front of him.

Hewitt Bernard, brother of Lady Agnes Macdonald, May 1868


Hewitt Bernard was also Sir John A.’s private secretary for a time, and stayed in the villa with them for their first several summers.

A black and white portrait of Sir Joseph Pope, from head to hips, his arms folded in front of him, wearing a three-piece suit and tie, a watch chain and high collar. He is looking directly at the camera.

Sir Joseph Pope, photographed by William James Topley


Later Sir Joseph Pope, successor to Hewitt Bernard as Sir John A.’s private secretary, also stayed at Villa Les Rochers with the Macdonalds, but within a few summers he had met Minnie Taschereau (Marie-Louise-Joséphine-Henriette Taschereau, called “Minette”) in St. Patrick, married her, and acquired a house of his own nearby.

Oval sepia-toned photograph of four people (the Bate family) including an elderly man (Sir Henry Bate), a baby (his granddaughter), and two women (his wife and daughter) all dressed in white.

Henry Newell Bate, seated on right, his daughter Margaret Lisette Bate Christie, seated on left, his granddaughter Fay Christie Symington standing at back, and great-granddaughter Margaret Symington Eakin, in front, 1913.


One of their summer neighbours was Henry Newell Bate, the wealthy wholesale grocer, owner of H.N. Bate & Company, Bytown  (Ottawa) -and official food supplier to Lord and Lady Dufferin – who became the first Chairman of the Ottawa Improvement Commission in 1899.

An old postcard showing a two-storey wooden house with fine details in woodwork and trim; two people sit on the front step.

Sir Henry Newell Bate’s house, built in 1875, St. Patrick

Bate’s house was a short walk away from Villa Les Rochers; he and his wife, Catherine Cameron Bate, would often invite the Macdonalds to join them in the evenings for a game of cards, but Sir John A. always declined, saying he was “too old to learn”.

A one-and-a-half-storey summer cottage with a brick chimney and two dormer windows. It has a small but tidy front lawn and plantings of shrubs and peonies along the edge of a plain verandah. There a spruce tree in the left foreground, and in the background, a cloud-strewn but sunny sky.

Rookwood, in St. Patrick, photographed by Karen Molson in 2017


Thomas Reynolds, railway developer and friend of Sir John A.’s, owned a cottage he called Rookwood, also not far from Villa Les Rochers. Thomas’s sister, referred to only as “Miss Reynolds”, spent many summers at Rookwood and often took care of Mary Macdonald.

Others who had neighbouring cottages close to Villa Les Rochers were Quebec MP Thomas McGreevy and his family, as well as Chief Justice William Collis Meredith and his family.

In the summer of 1880, Sir John A. and Lady Agnes Macdonald hosted a “young sick girl” named Ada Pierce Tighe Bury. Ada was the step-daughter of civil servant Herbert O’Meara, soon to become Chief Clerk in the Department of Militia and defence.

The girl, Lady Agnes explained in a letter, became their guest because she “was ordered a change of air” but her parents couldn’t afford it.

One day Lady Agnes painted a watercolour depicting Ada sitting by the hearth with a blanket over her legs, and called it “A Wet Day in Rivière-du-Loup”.

Watercolour image of a young dark-haired woman reclining on a chair with her feet up resting on a footstool in front of a fireplace. A blue shawl covers her shoulders and arms; she is reading a book.

“A Wet Day in Rivière-du-Loup” by Lady Agnes Macdonald, 1880