This is the house that the fur trade built.
Many of us walk past historic buildings in our communities without giving them much thought. But these precious structures represent our history, our heritage.
A case in point is the Simon Fraser House (153 Ste. Anne St.), a gracious structure that overlooks the canal and locks in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue. It was built between 1790 and 1810 for Peter Grant, a partner in the North West Company, a Montreal fur-trading business that eventually merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Simon Fraser, another North West Company partner, bought the house in 1820.
Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue occupied a strategic location for the fur trade, being between Lake St. Louis and Lake of Two Mountains and near the confluence of the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers. The house sits at the far west end of the town. Around the time that he built his house, Peter Grant also built a fur warehouse to the east, now 13 Ste. Anne St.
Irish poet Thomas Moore is said to have stayed at the house in 1804, where he composed The Canadian Boat Song.
The Simon Fraser House, with its typical Quebec fieldstone facade, was modified in the second half of the 19th century: a front porch was added, followed by dormers. During the first half of the 20th century, the building housed a branch of the Bank of Montreal.
With the support of the Bout-de-l’Isle Historical Society and the Canadian Heritage Foundation of Quebec, the house was restored in 1962 and given heritage designation.
Many locals may remember this beautiful building housing a welcoming lunchtime café, operated by volunteers as a fund-raiser for the Victorian Order of Nurses (now NOVA West Island). Today, the building houses the Quebec Family History Society’s Heritage Centre, where visitors can research their genealogy and learn more about Quebec’s heritage.