Head over to Derby Line !

“Come take the tour!”

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

For the first time, this sum­mer, the town of Stanstead has been of­fer­ing vis­i­tors free, guided tours of the Rock Is­land sec­tor and its his­toric build­ings. The town’s in­trepid and in­cred­i­bly wellinformed tour guide is Kar­i­anne Cos­sette, a Bishop’s Univer­sity stu­dent who knows so much about

the his­tory of Stanstead, in­clud­ing lots of en­ter­tain­ing de­tails and anec­dotes, you’d never guess she was raised in Trois-Rivières and knew very lit­tle about Stanstead just a few months ago. I be­lieve even Mer­rick Belk­nap would be im­pressed with her his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge of the town!

“I came to Len­noxville about three and a half years ago to study in English. I didn’t speak any English when I came to Cham­plain Col­lege,” said Kar­i­anne who now speaks ex­cel­lent English and does the tour in both lan­guages.

The tour be­gins out­side the Gran­ite Cen­tral Mu­seum and heads to lovely Bant­ing Park, sit­u­ated along­side the Tomi­fo­bia River and al­most hid­den be­hind the Mu­seum un­less you know it’s there. “Stanstead was founded by the Amer­i­can, John­son Taplin, in 1796,” be­gan the en­ter­tain­ing his­tory les­son.

At the his­toric Lee Farm, Kar­i­anne spoke about in­sulin co-dis­cov­erer Sir Fred­er­ick Bant­ing and his wife, Hen­ri­etta, the for­mer owner of the Lee Farm. “Hen­ri­etta didn’t need a man in her life. She was one of the first fe­male doc­tors in Canada, she re­searched breast can­cer, and she fought in the Sec­ond World War,” said the guide. Our ‘foun­tain of knowl­edge’ even knew the name of the Que­bec artist who sculpted the dead trees on the prop­erty, Mau­rice Harvey, and what the tree sculp­tures rep­re­sented.

Learn­ing many things at ev­ery stop, the Stone Cir­cle was no ex­cep­tion. Be­sides ex­plain­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of each of the large gran­ite chunks that form the Stone Cir­cle, we also learnt a few other in­ter­est­ing mysteries about the Stone Cir­cle, things best left to dis­cover on site!

Mov­ing on to the town’s first Cus­toms House, Ms. Cos­sette be­gan shar­ing her bootlegging sto­ries. “In the be­gin­ning, they only smug­gled booze from dusk to dawn, at night. Then they got bolder: they were hid­ing bot­tles on chil­dren and dress­ing as priests. They were called ‘boot­leg­gers’ be­cause they’d wear those high boots, fill them with bot­tles, and then cross the Tomi­fo­bia River into the United States. In 1851, Cus­toms Of­fi­cer James Thomp­son wrote in his re­port that: ‘The lo­cal pop­u­la­tion was very clever and they didn’t fol­low the law!’”

Ac­cord­ing to Kar­i­anne, the Haskell Li­brary is one of the most pop­u­lar sites with the tourists. Be­fore en­ter­ing, she clearly ex­plains the ex­cep­tional rule to ac­cess this unique build­ing that sits in both Canada and the United States. “There’s one rule: as long as you stay on this side­walk, you can cross the line and go into the li­brary.”

“Some tourists are only in­ter­ested in vis­it­ing the Haskell. That can be a prob­lem on Sun­days when the Haskell is closed,” said the tour guide who ad­justs the tour to her tourists needs and de­sires. “The tour could last half an hour or one and a half hours if you have a two and a half year-old run­ning every­where at the Stone Cir­cle!”

Feed­back from the tourists who take the tour has been pos­i­tive. “They’re im­pressed with how beau­ti­ful the Haskell Li­brary is, how beau­ti­ful Stanstead is. They say that a guide re­ally helps, oth­er­wise they’re just look­ing at old build­ings.”

Asked what this keen tour guide, who did a lot of ex­tra re­search on the town be­sides study­ing the doc­u­ments given to her by Stanstead’s De­vel­op­ment Agent, Joanne La­je­unesse McKay, en­joyed about her job, she an­swered: “I like talk­ing to peo­ple and see­ing their in­ter­est in learn­ing about a place. I like this city, too, and I love the Haskell Li­brary. I’m a mem­ber now and I go there on my days off. I just dis­cov­ered the Farmer’s Mar­ket – they have great pas­tries there! The peo­ple here are nice and even the Cus­toms Of­fi­cers wave at you.”

Ms. Cos­sette is avail­able to give free tours from Wed­nes­day to Sun­day, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. For more in­for­ma­tion call her at 819 876-5576.

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Stanstead’s tour guide, Kar­i­anne Cos­sette, sits in both Canada and the United States in the Haskell Free Li­brary, one of the most pop­u­lar stops on the tour.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.