In 2004, 15,463 visitors came to the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada. The last visitor survey was conducted in 1994, prior to restoration of the manor house. At that time, nearly seven out of ten visitors (68%) were from Québec. Of that number, 40% lived in the Montréal area and 16% were from the Outaouais region. Visitors from outside the province therefore represented 32% of the clientele. The majority of the visitors were adults (78%) with an above-average level of education. The visitors were 75% French-speaking.
The next visitor survey is planned for 2005 and the results will be taken into account in the next management plan review.
Current service offer
The Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada is open seasonally from May to October. Visitors are charged an admission fee; Château Montebello clients, however, are admitted at no charge in accordance with the long-term lease that stipulates that hotel residents may have free access to the site to enjoy outdoor activities15.
Since it was taken over by Parks Canada in April 1993, the site has undergone selective improvements to provide visitors with a minimum of comfort, to ensure public safety, to provide personnel with satisfactory working conditions and to improve the quality of the visitors' experience at the site. From an operational standpoint, various adjustments have been made: the location of ticket sales, the schedule and duration of the guided tours, and improvements made to the content of messages conveyed to the public as progress is made in historical and ethnographic research. Some temporary work has also been done, such as setting up a ticket counter at the Montebello station16 and in the granary, and adding a path between the station and Manor House Road.
For the time being, the visitor capacity of the site is highly dependant on the visitor capacity of the manor house, which is the main focus of the site; the manor acts as a bottleneck. For safety reasons, no more than 60 persons are allowed inside the manor at one time.
The particular location of the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site, hemmed in by property owned by Fairmont – Le Château Montebello and the Municipality of Montebello, has posed a major problem for the site's accessibility and visibility. Traditional access to Manoir Papineau via the main gate and Manor House Road is currently impossible because these grounds are fenced in and are located outside the boundaries of the national historic site. This explains why site access has until now been via two entry points that are outside Parks Canada property.
Access via Montebello station
Montebello station serves as a visitor reception centre; there is a trail from the station to Manor House Road. It should be noted that Montebello station is also used as a tourist information centre for the Outaouais Regional Tourist Association. The parking area at Montebello station is presently insufficient and there are no parking places reserved exclusively for visitors to the national historic site. Furthermore, the distance between the station and the manor house is nearly half a kilometre and there is currently no shuttle service.
Access via the entrance to Château Montebello
It is also possible to reach the historic site via the paved road (old Cape Road) that links the hotel complex to the manor house. Theoretically, this access is limited to clients of the hotel who obviously are allowed to park in the Château Montebello parking area. Even if signs indicate the presence of the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada, most of the time it is by chance that passersby discover the site.
Setting up partnership agreements is a management strategy prioritized by Parks Canada. At the Manoir Papineau National Historic Site of Canada, various forms of partnership with public, private and non-profit organizations are involved in managing the site.
Fairmont Hotel – Le Château Montebello
is Parks Canada's primary stakeholder at Montebello. The long-term lease agreement between Parks Canada and the hotel forms the legal basis for the relations between the two organizations in terms of property, access and visitor traffic. A service contract has also been negotiated under which Château Montebello oversees the upkeep of the property around the manor house and takes care of surveillance of the grounds.
The Société historique Louis-Joseph Papineau is also an important partner: its association with Parks Canada is in the form of providing visitor services at the funeral chapel and sharing historical information. Parks Canada provides the society with logistical support in the organization of its activities.
The Outaouais Regional Tourism Association signed a memorandum of understanding with Parks Canada and takes care of reception services and ticket sales for the historic site at the Montebello station, where it has a tourist information office that specifically serves the “La Lièvre et la Petite-Nation” subregion. This set-up will remain in place as long as these services can be provided by the tourist association.
The Municipality of Montebello is a valuable partner with whom Parks Canada exchanges visitor services. In fact, the site's temporary parking area is located on municipal property and the same is true of its signage. Parks Canada has supported the municipality, specifically the Corporation de la Gare de Montebello, in the building of the reception area inside the station.
- At the present time, this privilege poses no particular administration problems since the entrance fees paid by visitors apply exclusively to the guided tour of the manor house.
- The old Montebello train station was built around the same time as the “Log Château” and its architecture is similar. At the beginning of the 1990s it was moved from its original location to a site near the rest area and was refurbished for its new purpose in the community. Although it is interesting in itself, the station is neither revealing nor representative of the Papineau estate.