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A guide to the Eastern Townships

L’Abbaye de Saint-Benoit-Du-Lac

A guide to the Eastern Townships

The Eastern Townships is a big collection of small cities, towns, and villages nestled in nature in south-eastern Quebec. This is where people build summer homes, rent cottages, and stay in quintessential bed and breakfasts.

The Townships actually have strong English roots. In the late 18th century, it was Americans, British Loyalists, and Irish and Scottish settlers that moved into the region and made it their home. This ‘Anglophone’ history is apparent in the names of several towns: Dunham, Farnham, Hatley and Orford, to name a few.

Outdoor adventure seekers regularly spend an hour or two on the on the road to the Townships from Montreal. Here’s why…

Spa Eastman - Credit: Asymetric/Finn O’Hara
Spa Eastman - Credit: Asymetric/Finn O’Hara

All about the outdoors

Four provincial parks are located within the region, perfect for four-season adventures. Hills such as BromontExternal Link Title, OrfordExternal Link Title, and Owl's HeadExternal Link Title draw in skiers and snowboarders during winter, while hiking and mountain biking take over in the summer. The region is also dotted with lakes and rivers. Brome, Memphremagog and Megantic lakes are all popular destinations for boating, fishing, water-skiing, and swimming.

The highest concentration of golf coursesExternal Link Title in Quebec is found in the Townships, if you're interested in hitting up the links. And if a golf cart's four wheels are two too many, the region has a massive cycling communityExternal Link Title, so you won't have a hard time finding routes to explore, or companions to join you. There are also a number of spasExternal Link Title, if you'd rather experience nature in a more relaxing setting.

L’Orpailleur Winery, on the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route
L’Orpailleur Winery, on the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route - Credit: Asymetric/Finn O’Hara

Festivals, forests, stars and wine bars

For a more urban experience, consider a night in the City of SherbrookeExternal Link Title. You can have your pick of fine dining restaurants, then take in a show at the Granada Theatre, or pay a visit to the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts. Sherbrooke is also home to many of the 130 festivals and major events that call the Townships home.

A few other major attractions make the region a sought-after destination. In Coaticook you'll find Foresta LuminaExternal Link Title, a short, 1.6 kilometre night walk through a forest filled with music, lights, and videos. The walk lets you soak up the old mythology about the origins of Quebec in the forest.

Another unique draw is the ASTROLab and observatoryExternal Link Title found in Mont-M?gantic provincial park. The ASTROLab is a place to enjoy and learn about the night sky, while the observatory is home to Canada's most powerful telescope. The area is the world's first Dark Sky Preserve, meaning there is little to no unnatural light to impede your views of the starry night sky.

Many old churches can be found in the small towns of the Townships
Many old churches can be found in the small towns of the Townships. Credit: Asymetric/Finn O'Hara

Finally, the Eastern Townships are home to many vineyards, including the two oldest in all of Quebec. You can follow the Wine RouteExternal Link Title which connects 21 vineyards in the Brome-Missisquoi region, and sample everything the Townships has to offer. Twenty-one is a lot, so pick and choose, or remember to bring a designated driver.

If you're considering a trip to the Eastern Townships, consider planning your route along the Townships TrailExternal Link Title. The 418-kilometre trail brings you through 31 towns and villages, highlighting noteworthy heritage stops along the way. You're going to see covered bridges, a multitude of churches, and classic Victorian homes that really illustrate the Anglo-French qualities and influences. All of this is set against a picturesque backdrop of small mountains, forests, and lakes, which really make for a beautiful drive.

Want to start planning your getaway in the Townships? Visit the Eastern Townships website for more information.