8 historic facts about the Eastern Townships

Published on Feb 3, 2022

Our beautiful region has a rich past that has shaped our development, our culture and our character. It’s always interesting to discover different stories related to our history. Here are 8 events of our past that you might not have heard of.

Since 1850!

  1. The Eastern Townships region has been a tourist destination since … 1850! And this is largely due to the establishment of the railways. In fact, many wealthy Americans would notably come to vacation in the North Hatley, Lake Brome and Magog regions.

An Amalgam forming a Rich Heritage

  1. The Eastern Townships region represents an amalgam of heritages. Americans, Loyalists, Irish, Scots, Abenaki and French Canadians have all left their mark on the territory. The layout of the land, the architecture of our homes, covered bridges, churches, barns, and the names of our towns and villages all bear witness to our past.

The Abenaki People, The First Occupants

  1. The Abenaki were the first occupants of the territory and established their hunting and fishing grounds here. These “People of the Dawn” are believed to have dwelt in the region at least 10,000 years ago. We only have to think of such names as Coaticook, Massawippi, Yasmaska to confirm their presence.

A Territory Divided into Townships

  1. At a time when the St-Lawrence Lowlands were under French rule and the territory divided into seigneuries, the Eastern Townships territory had not yet been conceded. From 1792 onwards, the British Crown granted land along the border to Loyalists who had fled the American Revolution. The area was then developed according to the English township system.

The Townships and M. Gérin-Lajoie

  1. With the massive arrival of French Canadians in the second half of the 19th century, the name of the region, formerly known as the Eastern Townships, was changed to its French equivalent, Cantons de l’Est. This toponym was introduced in 1858 by Québec author, lawyer and journalist Antoine Gérin-Lajoie in reference to the Cantons existing elsewhere in the French-speaking world, notably in Belgium and in Switzerland.

1967: The Establishment of Our Administrative Region

  1. Several administrative subdivisions then ensued until the establishment of administrative regions throughout Québec in 1967. The Eastern Townships administrative region was then created. In 1981, following a Commission de toponymie du Québec consultation, the region took the name “Estrie” and would keep the same boundaries corresponding to the MRCs of Sherbrooke, du Granit, le Haut-St-François, Val-St-François, Memphremagog, Coaticook and Des Sources.

1978 and the Establishment of the Eastern Townships Tourism Association

  1. When the region’s tourism association was created in 1978, neighbouring MRCs were given the choice of joining the RTA they preferred. Therefore, the Haute-Yamaska and Brome-Missisquoi regional municipalities chose to join the Eastern Townships region, even though they were part of the Montérégie’s administrative region. It only took a couple of years, in the early 1990s, for Tourisme Estrie to become Tourisme Cantons-de l’Est and Eastern Townships Tourism.

Nine Territories, One Great Region

  1. Since July 2021, the MRCs of Brome-Missisquoi and Haute-Yamaska are part of the administrative region de l’Estrie. The administrative region has thus grown from 7 to 9 territories; a configuration identical to that of the Eastern Townships tourism region.

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