Introducing Eastern Townships
Lush rolling hills, crystal-clear blue lakes and checkerboard farms fill the Eastern Townships, or the 'Cantons-des-l'Est' as it's known by French inhabitants. The region begins 80km southeast of Montréal, south of Hwy 20, and finds itself squished in between the labyrinth of minor highways that stretch all the way to the Vermont and New Hampshire borders. New Englanders will feel right at home with the covered bridges and round barns that dot the bumpy landscape, sculpted by the tail end of the US Appalachian mountain range, which peters out here.
A visit during spring is rewarding, as it's the season for 'sugaring off' – the tapping, boiling and preparation of maple syrup. Summer brings fishing and swimming in the numerous lakes; in fall the foliage puts on a show of kaleidoscopic colors to toast with freshly brewed apple cider, which is served in local pubs. The district is also home to a fast-growing wine region that produces some respectable whites and an excellent ice wine, a dessert wine made from frozen grapes. Cycling is extremely popular in the warmer months, with nearly 500km of trails taking in sumptuous landscapes. Winter means excellent downhill skiing at the three main ski hills: Bromont, Mont Orford and Sutton.
Originally the territory of Abenakis, the townships were settled in the aftermath of the 1776 American Revolution by New England Loyalists seeking to remain under the British crown. They were joined by successive waves of immigrants from Ireland and Scotland as well as French Canadians, who today make up the vast majority of residents.