Take your pick: adrenaline packed or slow and contemplative?
When you start exploring the region, you’re sure to come across some little known Townships’ treasures and even some that are entirely new to you! Meanwhile, here are 12, to point you in the right direction...
This 560-metre (1,739 foot) high peak is situated in one of the most charming villages in the region, namely Piopolis. It’s a mountain few people are familiar with and it takes 45 minutes to reach the summit, but it’s well worth the effort. From the top, you get a great view over the Appalachians and a number of lakes. If the climb makes you work up an appetite, just drop by the Café de Pio and order a gelato or a homemade pastry!
On Magog’s Main Street there is a new art gallery - Live Art Business – which is something of a departure from the norm. Live performances, exhibitions and workshops etc. Check its website for upcoming events.
Alexandra Bachand, a well-known perfumer, is the owner of La Grange du Parfumeur (The Perfumer’s Barn) in Magog, where Bachand formulates and creates her unique scents. Her products can be bought on site. La Grange du Parfumeur is the first enterprise of its kind in Quebec.
Before sinking in Lake Massawippi over a century ago, the steamship “Mayflower” ferried passengers, mail and freight between North Hatley and Ayer’s Cliff. Nowadays, it’s home to schools of fish.
Mayflower and a nearby wreck – the “Niagara” (it was built in the 1930s) - also attracts divers. The natural topography of cliffs and an underwater island makes this a mecca for sporty types who love to plunge into the depths of one of Quebec’s most magnificent lakes.
Situated in Saint-Anne-de-la-Rochelle, the Cinézoo is a zoological park where animals are trained for the movie industry. It’s also open to the public. Visitors can see all kinds of exotic creatures – monkeys, lions, tigers and reptiles among others. Occasionally there are conferences and workshops as well as guided tours that let you get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. It’s a great place for adults and kids to spend an afternoon and, by the way, one of the resident grizzly bears appeared in the movie De Père en flic 2 – a hilarious thriller about a dysfunctional relationship between father and son, both of whom are cops.
Also in Saint-Anne-de-la-Rochelle is Les Ânes en culotte - a farm where donkeys are raised for their milk, a rarity in Quebec. The boutique sells products (soaps, creams etc.) that contain this unique ingredient. In ancient times, donkey milk was used as a curative for all kinds of illnesses and as an anti-aging agent for the skin.
How about paddling a kayak along the Saint François River? Setting out from Richmond’s nautical park, you can take a guided kayak excursion during which you’ll learn something about the region, such as why Melbourne is often called the Pays de l’Ardoise (“Slate Country”). You never know, you might even spot some golden eagles!
A must in the summer: British-style afternoon tea in the gardens of the Uplands Cultural and Heritage Centre. (If the weather is bad, the tea is served inside.) Visitors are treated to all the things one associates with a traditional afternoon tea – waitstaff dressed in period costume, delicate porcelain cups, scones with cream and strawberry jam, pastries…. Incidentally, the Uplands Cultural and Heritage Centre is part of a network of five establishments that serve British-style afternoon teas – a gracious meal break that we are very happy to perpetuate!
A place to observe the animals (see if you can find Agathe, a heifer who has a bad habit of wandering off!), buy excellent products (guinea fowl, goose, chicken, pork, ready-to-eat dishes etc.) and stay the night. There are five rooms. (A maximum of 20 people.) A charming place, run by equally charming hosts!
The lake, in the municipality of Coaticook, covers a mere 0.60 square kilometres (0.23 square miles) but it’s favourite venue for fishers and birdwatchers. (The lake contains mostly brown and rainbow trout.) Lac Lindsay is one of the rare places that has an extra-long jetty and allows free access – ideal for fishers who don’t want to get their feet wet!
Vermouth is a common base for cocktails and two wineries make this aromatic drink, namely Domaine Lafrance (Saint-Joseph-du-Lac) which is known for its cider vermouth and the Val Caudalies winery in Dunham. The latter has been lauded for the high quality of its dry, white vermouth and its sweet, amber vermouth.
You can get these delightful drinks at the SAQ (Quebec Liquor Store). Better still - buy them directly from the producers at their own distilleries to discover the wide variety of wines and ciders that they produce.
Horseback riders, farm animals, agricultural exhibitors, music, tractor pulls, a demolition derby… all the attractions that are part of the Bedford Fair, the oldest such country fair in Quebec. (Bedford is not far from Farnham and Cowansville.) This year marks the 195th edition of this venerable agricultural event (August 9-13).