Big cheque for CAB
RH Rediker CAB director Mylene LaBonté receives a cheque from tournament organizer Arthur Lapenna. Other organizers seen in the photo were (l to r.) Josianne Caillet, Lynn Wood and André Gaulin.
The town of Stanstead, once the most important business centre in the Eastern Townships, has a fascinating history and is flush with historic buildings and landmarks, such as the Haskell Library and Opera House. In more recent years, the town has been transforming itself into a more vital centre for local residents and visitors alike, revitalizing the Rock Island sector with inviting shops and restaurants and adding places of interest such as the Stone Circle and Granite Central.
People can now discover about the Stanstead of years ago and the new Stanstead with a walking tour that is being offered for free, in both English and French, from Wednesday to Sunday between 9:30 am and 4:00 pm, until August 20th, then on weekends and holidays until October 14th, in the Rock Island sector of Stanstead.
Elizabeth Merineau, from Coaticook, is the new tour guide and she will be stationed at Granite Central, the granite and miniature train museum on Notre Dame Street, waiting to take indi- viduals or groups on tours. “The guide first takes people to Banting Holmes Park behind the museum to see some granite sculptures and the beautiful Tomifobia River,” said Joanne Lajeunesse-McKay, the town of Stanstead’s development agent. Visitors aren’t obliged to visit the granite museum to take advantage of the free tour, however, the small entrance fee is worth the price to learn all about the local granite industry and see one of the biggest Lionel train collections in Canada.
From the park visitors can head to Domaine Les Boisees Lee Farm, the former estate of Dr. Henrietta Banting, the wife of insulin co-discoverer and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Frederick Banting. Now a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, the tour will wander the expansive grounds and gardens of the
202 year-old home. A highlight of this tour are the huge, sculpted trees created by Maurice Harvey from St-Jean-Port-Joli. “The trees were diseased and had to come down but when we met Maurice Harvey at the granite symposium, he said he was a ‘tree recycler’,” explained the B & B’s owner, Michelle Richard. The diseased walnut trees were then trimmed down and sculpted into huge people. “Local people come all the time, they bring their visitors, just to look at the trees,” added Michelle.
Next it’s off to the Stone Circle, which resembles Stonehenge and is made entirely of local granite, and the Village de Saules, a living willow structure that children are welcome to play in, both at the same site. This is a nice spot to return to after the tour for a picnic, especially if you have children with you who like to run.
While walking, visitors will learn from Ms. Merineau about the history on both sides of the border and about interesting events that happened in the last two centuries. “We met with Merrick Belknap, David Lepitre, Robert Sheldon and read texts by Matthew Farfan. We’ve got some very funny stories about the border - we have quite a few stories to tell! The tour will be a mix of history and fun,” said Ms. Lajeunesse-McKay.
Of course, what would a tour of the Rock Island sector be without a visit to the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, the famous building built directly on top of the Canadian-American border. There is a small fee to tour the inside of this beautiful landmark, which opened in 1904, however, the use of the library is still free. “People won’t need to have their passports. The Border Patrol has been informed of the tours and our tour guide knows the proper way to enter the Haskell,” explained the development agent.
Visitors then cross the pedestrian bridge over the Tomifobia River to get onto Dufferin Street (main street). The guided tour continues with the explanations of several historic buildings such as the Eastern Townships Bank, the Southern Canada Power building and the Art gallery La Vieille Forge, a former blacksmith shop. The tour ends at Henry Seth Taylor Place, named after the inventor of Canada’s first steam car.
“The entire tour takes between thirty and forty-five minutes. When our tour guide is not busy giving tours she’ll be helping out at the granite museum and, on rainy days, she’ll help out at the Haskell and at the Colby-Curtis Museum,” added Ms. Lajeunesse-McKay.
The free tours are made possible with contributions from the Centre d’aide aux
of Memphremagog (CAE), and from the Memphremagog MRC through its Programme d’aide au patrimoine.
Stanstead’s Development Agent, Joanne Lajeunesse-McKay, hopes that people will bring their children on the new Stanstead tour so they can discover, among many other things, the ‘Saul Village’: little forts and tunnels made of living willows which were created by renowned artist Kim Vergil. The Stanstead Stone Circle, also on the tour, can be seen in the background.