In 1931 the embassy bought its current location, a prized piece of land overlooking the Rideau Falls from the Blackburn family. The legation was originally based in the Blackburn mansion. Construction on the new embassy building, designed by Eugène Beaudouin, began in 1936. The first stone was laid by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King on Bastille Day. The Art Deco structure opened in 1939, just in time for the turmoil of the Second World War. The French ambassador René Ristelhueber, appointed in early 1940, acknowledged the Vichy regime as did the Canadian government. In 1942 Canada switched and expelled the Vichy diplomats and the facilities were turned over to the Free French and Colonel Philippe Pierrené was made ambassador.