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The history of the Eastern Townships is strewn with the most surprising facts! Here are 24 of these:
Marcellus Gilmour Edson, the inventor of peanut butter, was born in 1849, in the town of Bedford.
One of Canada’s most famous bank robbers of the 19th century, Lucius Parmelee, was born and lived his entire life in Waterloo.
The Haskell Library and Opera House, in Stanstead, is quite unique because the Canada-U.S. border runs through the building: its theatre’s stage is set on Canadian territory while most of the seats are on American soil.
Only a handful of round barns are still standing in the Townships. They originated in the state of Vermont, towards the end of the 19th century. Why a round shape? According to legend, this way, the devil couldn’t hide in any corner! The truth? The round shape of these barns allowed farmers to place their livestock in the centre, making feeding and cleaning tasks easier to carry out.
Bedford’s Agricultural Fair, which would have celebrated its 198th anniversary this year, is Quebec’s oldest agricultural fair.
Christian Barthomeuf of Clos Saragnat (Frelighsburg), besides being the inventor of ice cider, was the first to have planted grapevines in Dunham, in 1980.
The name of the Orpailleur Vineyard was given by Quebec’s most loved poet singer, Gilles Vigneault. The word Orpailleur means gold prospector.
The brilliant Ontarian ballistic expert, Gerald Bull, born in 1928, worked for different governments and is known for having carried out important research on some very powerful canons. During the 1,970 s, he conducted tests using these canons in the Mansonville area.
There are only five remaining Fokker D.VII planes (a German World War I biplane) in the world that are still in good condition. One of these can be seen at the Brome County Museum.
During World War II, Quebec counted about ten camps lodging German prisoners. One was located in Sherbrooke and another in Farnham. The prisoners of the Farnham camp—there were about 200 of them—are said to have worked in the area orchards.
The popular cook, radio and television host, and culinary writer, Jehane Benoît, lived in Sutton from 1956 until her passing, in 1987.
In 1882, Mégantic (the city of Lac-Mégantic had not yet been founded) barely had 200 residents, but counted seven hotels! Two years later, in 1884, there were nine hotels! This is why it had the reputation of being a place for whisky, saloons and brothels!
One of the first hunting clubs in Quebec, if not the first, called the Megantic Fish and Game Club, was founded in 1887. Its territory spread out on both sides of the Canada—U.S. border and welcomed almost exclusively rich Americans from Boston and New York.
Four transatlantic ships were named Megantic. The most well known is still the SS Megantic owned by the White Star Line. 168 metres long, it was first put into service in 1909, three years before the Titanic, also owned by the same company!
Al Capone (1895–1947) is said to have lived in Saint-Herménégilde, near the border, in the MRC of Coaticook, during our bootlegging period.
The Maison de la culture de Waterloo used to be a Masonic temple.
The founder of the Zoo de Granby and then mayor of Granby, M. Horace Boivin kept an impressive animal menagerie on his property. Among all the animals, he adopted a three-legged goat. The public regularly visited the menagerie until it finally became the Zoo de Granby in 1953.
When Amazoo, Granby’s water park, first opened in 1999, the cars lined up all the way from Boulevard David-Bouchard to Autoroute 10. A radio station would update its information live on the site.
The marsh of Rivière aux Cerises, in Magog, used to be … a dump. The same, in fact, is true for the Parc de la Gorge de Coaticook!