From time to time at MIA we will highlight certain regions or communities across Canada based on our experience and impressions. This week’s spotlight is on Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
Martha’s has a large extended family in the Eastern Townships and this area holds many fond memories and much family history for her. I first came to the Townships shortly after we were married 32 years ago and my affection and appreciation for this region grows with each visit. Because we have such a connection to the area we are planning a four day stopover to visit family and explore more of the area.
The Eastern Townships, which are southeast of Montreal and straddles the area between the United States border and the City of Sherbrooke, was one of the few Anglophone enclaves in the Province of Quebec up until before the end of the last century. Francophones and Anglophones co-existed for over a century. In fact families from both cultures stretch south across the US border even today creating a unique cross border heritage based on a an era and history of hardworking families committed to farming, lumbering and earning a living off the land.
The townships always come through with a spectacular and lasting first impression. The tops of the rolling hills provide amazing panoramic views of endless farms that are often separated by the deep greens of hardwood forest. This area is the ultimate destination for pleasurable drives through the country, especially during the fall of the year with the changing colours of leaves and interesting stops at roadside stands with selections from the year’s harvest. But, frankly the townships offer plenty to do regardless of the season.
As you explore the back roads of this region there is much to discover. Small towns, villages and even the roadsides offer the possibility of finding unique artisans, antiques, local produce and food. If you are lucky you may stumble upon a world class cheese factory, a gourmet food fair or pick your own farms.
One of the Canada’s best bicycling networks can be found in the Eastern Townships. The charming town of Magog is the hub for the cycling network. This town that is situated on the shores of Lake Mephremagog offer shops, bistros and a variety of restaurants.
The region also offers scenic hiking for both rookie and seasoned hikers. Start your hiking adventure in the town of Coaticook. For beginners the scenic Gorge de Coaticook is a great place to spend a couple of hours. For those who demand more of a challenge, nearby Mont Pinacle will not only meet the challenge but also give you an incredible view of the entire region. For those who enjoy learning about local history, specialty museums are scattered across the region. Camping is also widely available.
Quebec’s Eastern Townships is not considered a well known tourist destination for people from outside the province. Maybe that’s good thing as the country charm and scenic beauty remain authentic. If drives in the country sprinkled with a chance to explore and find old and new country charm is your thing, the Eastern Townships will not disappoint as it truly is a unique piece of Canada.