Visitors from Montreal and New England converge on the gorgeous countryside of the Eastern Townships, located in Québec’s southeastern corner. The area was set aside by England in the 1790s to house Loyalists emigrating from the newly independent United States. Although the region has a population with English and Irish origins, today French is the first language. Hop between towns, explore lakes and mountains and taste the bounty of the area’s many wineries.
High in the Appalachian hills, the Eastern Townships are filled with picturesque natural sites. Tour Mine Cristal, the quartz crystal mine in Bonsecours in the region’s center. Nearby, find the Parc National du Mont Orford, which features 61 trails crisscrossing over hills and three mountain peaks.
After sundown, drive east to the Parc National du Mont Mégantic, a dark sky reserve. From the park’s 21 square miles (55 square kilometers), enjoy some of the best night sky views in North America. Stop at the Mont-Mégantic Observatory for closer star views by day or night.
Visit the area’s pleasant towns. Sherbrooke is the largest of the Eastern Townships and the region’s unofficial capital. Visit the city’s two main museums: the Museum of Nature and Sciences, where you can learn about area wildlife, and the Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts, where you will see regional art dating back to the 1800s.
Stanstead, on the Canadian-American border, is worth a visit as well, due to the border-spanning Haskell Free Library and Opera House. Whether you’re Canadian or American, check out a book or see a show.
During warmer months, tour the vineyards in the southwest corner of the Eastern Townships. Fall is an especially popular season to visit, since the forests take on striking colors. During winter, ski or snowboard at one of the region’s four ski resorts.
The Eastern Townships are an hour’s drive east of Montreal. Once you arrive, rent a bike to navigate the region while enjoying its temperate weather.