History buffs coming to town
The town of Stanstead is steeped in Anglophone heritage, so it’s not surprising that the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network will be holding its Annual General Meeting, an event that will bring dozens of visitors from around the province to the town, here on June 1st.
The Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, also known as QAHN, was founded in 2000 by Townshipper Richard Evans and has its sole office in the Marguerite Knapp Building in the Borough of Lennoxville. It has been fulfilling its mission of promoting the preservation of Quebec heritage and the history of Quebec’s English-speaking communities through such initiatives as the publication of Heritage Trail guides, holding heritage essay and photo contests in Quebec schools, giving out annual awards to individuals and organizations who help preserve Anglophone heritage in Quebec and, most recently, with the “Significant Objects for Telling Identity: English Quebec through 100 Objects” project.
“QAHN is there just to make sure the Anglophone presence is known, recognized and celebrated. We’re not there to create artificial divisions where none exist. It’s fantastic working at the grass roots level, like our annual Marion Phelps Award which is given to an individual and the Richard Evans Award for organizations. Recently, The Miner Farm project in Granby received that award. There, a group of Francophones said ‘Let’s keep it’,” commented QAHN president Kevin O’Donnell in an interview with The Stanstead Journal.
The retiring president continued: “I believe the organization is making a valuable contribution to Quebec in general. Anglophone roots go back quite a number of years and there is no one ‘cookie cutter’ version of an Anglophone; we celebrate that. If you don’t actively preserve heritage, sometimes important people are forgotten, even whole areas are forgotten. They just fade away.”
One benefit to becoming a member of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network is receiving the organization’s magazine, Quebec Heritage News, four times a year. “I read in our own magazine about Montreal South. I had no idea that there was a town for about one hundred years, until the 1960s, on the South Shore; it was absorbed by one of those other towns, like Longueuil,” said Mr. O’Donnell, who lives in Hudson. “We have a stable of people who volunteer, are passionate, and contribute stories to the magazine.”
Mr. O’Donnell visited Stanstead once before, on Townshippers’ Day, and he’s looking forward to returning for the Annual General Meeting. “Matthew Farfan, whose on the Board, suggested we have the meeting in Stanstead about a year ago. I’ve never been to the Haskell Library or to the Masonic Lodge, but Matthew, who’s a member of that Lodge, has told me a lot about it. And I love the idea of this lady putting up a library smack on top of the border. There’s also such beautiful scenery in the area. It’s an incentive for members to come to the AGM, getting to visit an interesting town; it draws members to the meeting. The mayor himself will join us at the beginning of our meeting so we’re quite honoured.”
“I’m always trying to boost the visibility of Stanstead,” said long-time Stanstead resident Matthew Farfan who is also the Executive Director of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network. “Philippe will say a few words at our business meeting in the morning. That’s taking place at the Golden Rule Lodge in Stanstead, the oldest Masonic Lodge in Quebec which dates back to 1860. It’s very unusual for this building to be open for a public event like that,” explained Mr. Farfan who is also an historian.
After the meeting, QAHN members will receive a guided tour of the Colby-Curtis Museum followed by their annual awards ceremony over lunch at La Vieille Douane Bistro. “One of the awards is the Marion Phelps Award, named after a leading figure in Townships Heritage who recently passed away. It is to honour an individual who has excelled in volunteer work preserving heritage. The Richard Evans Award goes to a group or association that has excelled and, this time, it’s going to a group from the Townships. We’ll also have a few special awards,” said Mr. Farfan.
“Ross Murray will give a humorous talk, at lunch, about life on the border. After lunch, we’ll walk across the footbridge for a guided tour of the Haskell. Many of our members have never been so it should be a lot of fun for our visitors.” The QAHN members scattered around the province were sent brochures of the area in advance. “Many will stay a day or two or, if not, come back another time. They’re coming from the Gaspé, Quebec City, the Outaouais, the Chateauguay Valley, Ottawa, Montreal, and they all represent historical associations and museums. Stanstead is a very historical town and one of the most beautiful towns in the Townships, so I really wanted to show it off.”
People interested in attending this event must call QAHN, at 819 564-9595, to register by Thursday, May 30th.
QAHN Executive Director Matthew Farfan (right) is looking forward to welcoming QAHN president Kevin
O’Donnell (left) and other members of QAHN to Stanstead, this Saturday, for the organization’s Annual General Meeting and Awards Ceremony.