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Stanstead Releases New Heritage Tour

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dl.10199.jpg--June 26, 2008

The Town of Stanstead has just launched its long awaited tour of local heritage sites. A municipality of about 3,000 souls, Stanstead is made up of the former Three Villages of Stanstead Plain, Rock Island and Beebe Plain, amalgamated in 1995.

Located on the Vermont border, Stanstead prides itself on its history and architecture. Indeed, the town is a member of the exclusive group of Quebec municipalities that make up the Quebec Association of Most Beautiful Villages.
It is also a stop on the new Chemin des Cantons.

The new fold-out brochure, which is available in both English and French, incorporates colour and sepia photography, engravings, a map, and 43 numbered heritage attractions around town. There are also numerous anecdotes about village life and border lore. Spearheaded by historian and writer Matthew Farfan, who is also a town councillor, the project was a year in the making. Farfan not only oversaw the project, but researched and wrote the texts and provided most of the images.

At the launch today, Farfan said “Like all good volunteers, I took my time. But I have to say, I am quite pleased with the results. And I hope you will agree that this tour is both interesting to read and visually appealing.”

Graphic design for the brochure was provided by Sylvain Leblanc, of Stanstead. Leblanc, according to Farfan, worked very hard to do justice to the material. The result, he said, is beautiful.

Farfan gave a brief summary of the tour, mentioning some of the highlights along the route: the superb Victorian architecture found throughout the town, the Haskell Opera House, the Colby-Curtis Museum, Stanstead College, Centenary Church, the Masonic Lodge, the former Eastern Townships Bank, and the old Ursuline Convent, among others. He then went on to explain that the tour was “not all about architecture.” It includes anecdotes about the history and lore of Stanstead. “There are,” he said, “stories about the border, smuggling, granite, the first car, the Beatles [who nearly held a reunion at the Haskell in the 1970s], the Great Fire, and some of the other things that make Stanstead such an interesting town to live in and to visit. We couldn’t include all of the sites in town. There are simply too many of them. So many, it would take a book.”

On hand for launch, which took place at the Stanstead town hall, were members of the press, representatives from the Haskell Free Library and Opera House and the Colby-Curtis Museum, and spokesmen from both the Townshippers’ Foundation and the Caisse populaire de Stanstead, both of which supported the project financially.

Circuit patrimoniale / Stanstead Heritage Tour will be available free of charge at outlets throughout the local area.