During the Second World War, it served as the temporary home-in-exile of the future Queen (then princess) Juliana of the Netherlands and her family, including the current Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
Stornoway has served its present purpose since 1950 when it was purchased by a group of concerned citizens, and later transferred to the government. In 1993, the house became an issue when Bloc Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard declined to move into the residence as a mark of protest against the federal government, choosing instead to live in nearby Hull, Quebec. Following the 1997 election, the new opposition leader, Preston Manning, declined to move in for a different reason: he implausibly protested that it was too extravagant and a waste of taxpayer money, even joking that it should be used as a bingo hall to pay off the national debt. Manning asked that he be provided with a more 'modest' residence, but soon moved into Stornoway.