Jean-Joseph Trestler was born in Mannheim in 1759. In 1776, at age 17, he was hired as a mercenary serving the British Crown to fight against the American invasion. After spending seven years in the Army, Mr. Trestler was dismissed. He then worked as a street vendor in Montréal for two years. In around 1786 he purchased a property in the Seigneurie de Vaudreuil, on the Outaouais River, and opened a general store. A money lender and fur trader, Mr. Trestler soon became very wealthy and influential. He married a Quebecer, Marguerite Noël, in 1785, and during this marriage he had four daughters. Tragically, she died in 1793, and his two eldest daughters passed away a few months later. He disowned his remaining daughters, Catherine and Magdeleine, for marrying general store clerks against his wishes, whence the legend of the ghost of Catherine who, they say, occasionally returns to the premises.
In 1794 Jean-Joseph Trestler married German-born Josephte Curtius, who gave birth to four sons.
After he built what was to become the central part of the house in 1798, he added the "West" wing (vault and warehouse) in 1805 and the "East" wing in 1806 (two rooms that became the current living room). The house served a dual purpose as a trading business and Bourgeois home. Mr. Trestler’s status as a pillar of the community was further strengthened when he was elected representative of York in 1808. Less lucky in politics, he was a member of government for just one year. Jean-Joseph Trestler died in 1813 and was interred in the crypt of the St-Michel de Vaudreuil church.
Two of his sons (Michel-Joseph and Hennry-Daniel) passed away before him. Nonetheless, his son, Jean-Baptiste Curtius, a physician-surgeon, became his mother's confidant following the death of his father and was appointed the administrator of the Trestler properties. The only son to marry, his five children passed on the Trestler name. A daughter, Iphigénie, married Sir Antoine-Aimé Dorion, who was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada immediately before Wilfrid Laurier, and served as Deputy Premier for a short period of time, during which he used the house as his secondary residence. The town of Dorion, which separated from Vaudreuil in 1891 (the year of his death), bears his name.
Eulalie Dorion (one of Iphigénie’s daughters) married the Honourable Christophe-Alphonse Geoffrion (1843-1899), a famous Montréal lawyer. They lived in the central section of the home. Between 1860 and 1880 the Trestler heirs divided the land and other items they inherited in 1813. The main house was kept but it was subdivided into three sections and turned into summer homes where the Tooke, Nash and Béique families lived. In 1927, the house was purchased by securities broker, Gustave Rainville, who used it as a secondary home. Major changes were made at that time.
In 1951, the house was sold to Donald Taylor, president of St-Raymond Paper. In 1969, it was designated an “Architectural Monument of National Importance” by Indian and Northern Affaires. Purchased and restored by Judith and Louis Dubuc in 1971, it was a designated “Bien culturel et monument historique” by the ministère des affaires culturelles du Québec. In 1984, the property was acquired by the Fondation de la Maison Trestler thanks to the financial support of the Macdonald Stewart Foundation and Parks Canada. The Fondation de la Maison Trestler subsequently embraced the mission of promoting the development, outreach and accessibility of La Maison Trestler.