It is best known for the Château Montebello, a resort which is the largest log structure ever built. It often serves as a conference centre for the Canadian government and its guests. Among other things, it has hosted several NATO conferences, a Canada/US/Mexico summit, and a G7 Summit.
Non-native settlement of the area began when the land of the Petite Nation Seigneury was purchased by Joseph Papineau in 1801. Later in 1817, Louis-Joseph Papineau inherited the property and starting in 1846, built the Manor of Montebello, which is now a National Historic Site in the national park system, operated by Parks Canada. The Family Museum, (c. 1880) which is on the national Register of Historic Places, is next to Manoir Papineau, on the grounds of the National Historic Site.
Louis-Joseph is credited with giving the name "Monte-Bello" to the location in 1854 as tribute to Napoleon-Auguste Lannes, Duke of Montebello (1801-1874), French diplomat and foreign minister in 1839, with whom he had become acquainted during his exile in France from 1839 to 1845.
On August 20–21, 2007, the President of the United States (George W. Bush), the Prime Minister of Canada (Stephen Harper), and the President of Mexico (Felipe Calderón) held a major trilateral summit meeting, in relation to the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America, at the Château Montebello. A diverse group numbering more than 1,200 protestors opposed the SPP meeting. The group included labour unions, environmental activists, political parties and NGOs.
Montebello is about 1½ hours west of Montreal, and about an hour east of Ottawa. Whether you drive from Ottawa or Montreal, you can be sure that you are going to take a beautiful drive. The countryside is a mixture of farmland and forest, fairly flat along the Ottawa River but with the Gatineau Hills nearby. It is pretty anytime and sensational in autumn when the trees change colour.
- Greyhound Canada. From Ottawa, four buses per week, 37 min, $14-40. From Monreal, four buses a week, 3 hr 37 min, $40-110
The town is small enough to be easily walkable.
- Manoir Papineau National Historic Site. A manor house built by a prominent Quebec family in the early 19th century, on the estate where the Château Montebello was later built.
- The hotel has a golf course. It also rents out Land Rovers for off-road adventures.
- Montebello Rockfest (formerly Amnesia Rockfest). mid-June. Canada's largest annual rock festival, which attracts 200,000 people. Camping available. In 2918, there were 70 acts performing, including Weezer, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Stone Temple Pilots, and Henry Rollins.
- There is a Bonichoix supermarket at the corner of Rue Notre Dame (Highway 148) and Rue Saint-Francis-Xavier.
- Chocomotive, 502 Rue Notre Dame, ☏ . Tu-Sa 11:00-18:00. Artisanal chocolate shop. A variety of chocolates, including organic and fair-teade chocolate.
The Château has several fine restaurants. Sunday brunch ($47+tax, reservation required) in the main restaurant is reported to be excellent.
- Resto-Pub Le Zouk, 530 Rue Notre Dame, ☏ . W-M 11:00-21:00. Beer and burgers. Sandwiches, burgers, pastas $126-16, steaks and ribs $21-27.
- 1 Château Montebello, 392 rue Notre Dame, toll-free: . Built in the 1930s by a Swiss-American using a Finnish builder. Now part of the Fairmont chain. The rustic-styled hotel has 211 guest rooms and suites. It was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company, and so is considered one of Canada's grand railway hotels. It claims to be the largest log building in the world. From $210.