Lake’s story comes out in new book
Lake Memphremagog and the area around it, a remarkably beautiful region with a fascinating history, will soon get the attention it deserves in a new book by Ogden author, film-maker and photographer, Louise Abbott. Entitled Memphrémagog: An
Illustrated History/ Une histoire illustrée (Volume 1), the bilingual and richly illustrated book traces the origins of the land and the lake and how man and nature have altered it.
“I conceived the idea for the book in 2011, but I’d been thinking about the land and its history much longer than that. My publisher asked me to write a book about Georgeville, but I suggested a book on the larger region. I knew, from my childhood, that it was an area that I loved and wanted to explore,” commented Ms. Abbott in an interview with The
“I go as far back as the Paleozoic Era when the land around the lake was formed,” said Louise who interviewed Derek Booth, a professor of Geomorphology, and geologist Jeffrey Packard for the details of the landscape’s beginnings. “They both spent their childhoods at the lake and Jeffrey now lives by the lake. I was lucky to have people like that around me; I tapped all of their expertise.”
“In each chapter I go from the past right up to the present day. In one chapter I wrote about logging on the lake in the
1950’s and about a log salvaging operation in the 2000’s. People can enter history when you start with something more current.”
Known for researching her subjects extensively and putting a priority on eyewitness accounts, Ms. Abbott interviewed many Townshippers for this first volume which focuses on the history of the ‘working’ landscape. “I interviewed both Francophones and Anglophones for the book, like deeplyrooted Anglophone Irene McGowan McTavish, in her early nineties, about Georgeville. I also spoke with historian Serge Gaudreau, of Magog, whose family had an ice-cutting business on the lake.”
Some of the others interviewed for the book were historian Stephen Moore, Georgeville’s John Boynton, and Malcolm Juby who provided information about a number of subjects including the lighthouses that were once numerous and necessary around the lake. Boat restorer Ghislain Freniere, of Fitch Bay, spoke to Louise about boat-building on
the lake. “It was really fun to have someone like him to learn about the old traditions from.”
“Marguerite Dunlop has been helping me with my research for years. She’s an invaluable colleague who has worked with me on many projects; I treasure her collaboration,” added Louise.
“I have a whole chapter on Province Island,” continued the author about that mysterious isle in the lake that’s surrounded by rumors and tall tales. “I tried to set the record straight about Province Island and there’s a lot about one particular owner, Andrew Zabriskie.”
Inspired by a young boy’s enthusiasm for Memphré, the lake’s mythical sea monster, there is also a chapter on that topic. “I’ve got the sea serpent! I did a lot of research on the sightings of the monster.”
The book has one hundred and seventy-five historical photographs, drawings and maps as well as ninety photographs taken by Ms. Abbott or her husband, photographer Niels Jensen. “We went out in a canoe to photograph animals and ducks around the lake. You have to get into a boat to really explore that lake and its islands.” You can also explore an area and take great photographs from the air, as Louise found out thanks to Stanstead East resident and pilot, George Weller. “That was great for photographing the lake. The plane was so small I could open the window to take the shots!” There are also photos in the book from the National Archives of Canada.
A member of Memphremagog Conservation Inc., the environmental group dedicated to protecting Lake Memphremagog, Ms. Abbott will donate some of the proceeds of her new book to that organization. “Louise and Neils have been members of MCI for a long time. They offered to partner with us on the project, so we will help publicize and sell the book and get 10% of the sales. Louise will be presenting the book at our AGM this Sunday; it will be a beautiful book,” commented Claude Bernier, the president of MCI.
Struck by how many Townshippers volunteered their time and expertise to help with this book project, I asked Louise about this piece of luck. “I think people have such an interest and a love for the area, and a real sense of pride in this place,” she commented. “As someone who lived here as a child, this project has been a wonderful revelation to me.”
Ms. Abbott will launch Memphrémagog: An Illustrated History/ Une histoire illustrée (Volume 1) on Sunday, July 20th, in Copp’s Square, Georgeville, beginning at 11:00 am. Further launches will take place in Austin (July 24th), Mansonville (August 2nd), Newport (August 9th), and in Magog in October. More information about the book can be found at the website www.ruralroutecommunications.com.
Writer, film-maker and photographer Louise Abbott, seen here, has produced a richly-illustrated coffeetable book about Lake Memphremagog and the region around it.
The Stone family can be seen here around 1900 with hired hands during the haying season on their farm overlooking Lake Memphremagog between Austin and Magog.
A photo of Fitch Bay, the largest bay in the lake, taken by Louise Abbott from the window of George Weller’s plane.