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The Abenakis

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medium_owls.jpgThe history of the Eastern Townships begins with the Abenakis, who, according to oral tradition, had a number of villages in the region. The Abenakis used the region's forests and waterways for hunting, fishing, trade, and travel. Their travels included visits to their ancestral lands in New England where they exacted revenge on the English settlers who had displaced them.

The Abenakis allied themselves with the French during the century of conflict that the Americans call "the French and Indian Wars." The American colonists retaliated with an expedition led by Robert Rogers. While Wolfe was taking Quebec in1759, Rogers' Rangers sacked the Abenaki village of Odanak, then fled back to New England through what is now the Eastern Townships.

Today the Abenaki presence is still visible in the Eastern Townships. A small but growing number of families are tracing their ancestry back to those first inhabitants. Even more evident are the many place names of Abenaki origin that have come down to us, fittingly reflecting features of the landscape, the rivers, lakes, and mountains that were so vital to those first inhabitants: Memphremagog, Magog, Massawippi, Missisquoi, Tomifobia, Megantic, Yamaska, Coaticook...