A weekend in the Eastern Townships of Quebec – for me it was an opportunity to get back to my roots. The weekend was spent with my 72 year old father and his 92 year old aunt – we were off to visit her 100 year old sister!
Only one hour from Montreal, (less than a half hour’s drive from the US border) the charming region of the Eastern Townships, with rolling hills and valleys and picturesque villages, is a country paradise. In the fall, the Eastern Townships are ablaze with colour. The spectacular showing of autumn leaves is a huge draw card for people from all over the world. There are many fall colour calendars out there to monitor the progress of colour and when is the best time to go. We were in the region a little early – the colours were only just starting to emerge. (Click here for more photos of autumn colours in the Eastern Townships.)
Agro-tourism is strong in the region with veggie stands overflowing with fall’s bounty. I was quite surprised to see a number of vines along the way – turns out there are 17 vineyards that make up the wine trail. There are many unforgettable drives, skiing and hiking opportunities as well as spa and romantic getaways on offer in the region. For a weekend of pampering and indulgence, you can stay at the historic Hovey Manor (I am adding this to my bucket list!) in North Hatley. The Hovey Manor story is quite impressive. It is said that Henry Atkinson, the electricity baron who built the manor in 1899, would come to North Hatley every summer with his entourage: 18 servants and 10 horses! Many of the antique furnishings from Atkinson’s days remain at the manor.
The first stop in the region was the quaint village of North Hatley, found at the north end of Lake Massawippi. The town was a favourite amongst American aristocrats and the well-to-do who would travel to the lakeside to spend their summers. Many of the stately homes and tennis courts remain. The antique shops, art galleries and quaint inns maintain the area’s popularity for tourists today, especially as a weekend destination for people from Montreal. The quiet rolling roads make it a popular destination for cyclists with many cycling routes in the region.
Quaint shops in town.
My family grew up in the region – it was fascinating to hear the stories of the locals and those who holidayed in the region. Many of the old family farm houses remain today, however the Memphremagog region has certainly grown over the years with many new homes built amongst those family homes who have been in the region for generations. We drove out to an area unofficially known as Swedeville, where the old family farm house can still be found. The current owners were gracious enough to welcome us into their home, sharing the pictures of the renovations that transformed the old farmhouse to the house it is today. It is hard to believe that the beautiful house that we toured was once the old family farmhouse! There were plenty stories of when my Great Grandfather and Grandmother ran the farm, my dad and the other kids selling milk for a nickel, and the hard years growing up on the farm.
If you are looking for a relaxing weekend in the countryside, this region has much to offer. We didn’t even scratch the surface as we drove down memory lane.
For the photographer, there is much to see. I had a blast shooting pictures of old barns, fall colours and Lake Massawippi. There just wasn’t enough time in the day!
We stayed at the Motel Lennoxville for the weekend. The owner there was kind enough to point out some interesting places to photograph, including an old abandoned barn. He told me about the history behind Bishop’s University and loaned me his tripod (as I unfortunately left mine at home).
These photos only scratch the surface – there was so much more to see and do….a return trip is definitely on the cards.
Other posts you may enjoy for the Eastern Townships
Roadtrip – Eastern Townships – Sherbrooke – Montreal where.ca/blog/road-trip-blog/roadtrip-eastern-townships-sherbrooke-to-montreal/