From Town and Country magazine, June 1, 1933 edition; Archives of the Société d’histoire et du patrimoine de Val-David.
In 1929, John Wilson McConnell, president of St. Lawrence Sugar and owner of the daily newspaper, the Montreal Star, purchased the property of W.H. Allin at Lac Paquin. John McConnell increased the size of his domain and made it easier to access.
As soon as he acquired the property, McConnell started to build a manor house in the purest Norwegian tradition. It was an enormous house, built of logs and apparently roofed in turf. Its architect, the Norwegian Karen Smythe, also worked on the log construction of the Château Montebello. One can only wonder at the work involved! Pine logs from British Columbia arrived by train at the small station in Val-David, before being transported by truck to the foot of the Colline aux Framboises on the 8e rang in Lac Paquin. Horses were then used to pull the logs on sleds up the hill for more than two kilometres, as the trucks could not advance further. A number of Lac Paquin residents were occupied with this task.
In 1932, the King and Queen of Siam spent a week at the property and rebaptized the lake as Cirant Chai (serene contentment). No doubt they must have enjoyed their stay. Over the following decades, a number of other personalities enjoyed the McConnell’s hospitality, including three Canadian governor generals (Lord Willingdon, Lord Bessborough and Lord Tweedsmuir). In November 1951, the future Elizabeth II of England, then only a princess, stayed at Lac Paquin for several days with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh. Some months later however, disaster struck. A fire, which one can only imagine as uncontrollable in such a house, destroyed the building entirely. Scarcely a few pieces of furniture were saved from the inferno.