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The Eastern Townships

The Eastern Townships (also known as les Cantons de l'Est, and formerly as l'Estrie) refers to the southeast corner of the province of Québec, which borders Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, and is known for its mountains, spas, charming small towns, lush forests, and many vineyards. In winter, the Townships are the place to be for serious ski and snowboard enthusiasts, boasting many of the province's highest peaks and most challenging trails. In summer, boating, swimming, sailing, golfing, in-line skating, hiking, and bicycling take over. And every fall the inns are booked solid with visitors eager to take in the brilliant foliage. Fall is also a good time to visit the wineries (although most are open all year). Because of its mild microclimate, the Townships area has become one of the more prominent wine regions in Canada, with a dozen of Québec's 33 commercial wineries.

There remains a sizable, albeit dwindling, English population here, mostly the descendants of Empire Loyalists who fled first the Revolutionary War and later the newly created United States of America. The Loyalists were followed, around 1820, by the first wave of Irish immigrants. Some 20 years later the potato famine sent more Irish pioneers to the Townships. The area became more Francophone after 1850, as French Canadians moved in to work on the railroad and in the lumber industry, but the region still looks more like New England than New France, with redbrick villages, tidy Protestant churches, and white clapboard farmhouses with big verandas. During the late 19th century, English families from Montréal and Americans from the border states began summering at cottages along the lakes.

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