Artist drawing of Bryson House by Elke Bzdurreck

In 1821, at the age of seven, George Bryson departed from his birthplace, Paisley, Scotland. His family settled in Lanark, Ontario. In the 1830s, George took advantage of the Crown sale of lands to settle in the Pontiac and start a foresty operation. In 1843, he built the first sawmill in the region. He also established a timber slide on the Coulonge Chutes to improve the transport of the logs. In 1854, he built this house, which is unique in its style, throughout all of Pontiac County. It resembles those constructed by Scottish merchants in the years 1800 to 1830 in Lower and Upper Canada. A group of buildings, attached to the house and surrounding the yard, include a blacksmith building; one for ice; stables; shed and outbuildings to store food. The stone building to the south of these buildings was built after 1854 and served as the office for the Bryson company.

George Bryson chose to operate a farm bordering the Coulonge River in order to complement his forestry activities. The farm products served, firstly, to meet the needs of his family, then later, they were sent for supplying the loggers’ shantys. It is this general district in which, George Bryson, visionary businessman, dominated the economic activity of the Pontiac from the 19th century and oriented the economic development of the 20th century. The Bryson family was the proprietor of all this up to 1942. The house was then lived in for many years, mainly by the Dagenais family.

Unfortunately, after its resale, its condition slowly deteriorated and it was abandoned by its inhabitants. At the end of the 70’s, a group of impassioned Pontiacers undertook the compilation of an inventory of historic houses in the Pontiac. They noticed with sadness the state of abandonment of the Bryson house. Philip Gabriel, a member of this group and architect by trade, then commenced steps, approaching the Municipality, in order for the Municipality to acquire the building. Once the transaction was completed, a request for designation as an historic monument was sent to the Québec Government. This designation was bestowed by the Ministry of Culture in 1980. Major work was then undertaken to save the house from inclement weather and restore its lustre of yesteryear. Until the mid nineties, the house was occupied by the CLSC Pontiac. At the turn of the century, due to lack of space, the CLSC moved. The Municipality located its municipal library in the house and gave the rest of the space to the Corporation of the George Bryson Heritage House, which created a museum.