Richmond is a town nestled amidst rolling farmlands in the heart of the Eastern Townships Region.
It's located in the St. Francois Valley, on the Saint-Francois River between Sherbrooke and Drummondville. Its population is of about 4, 000. The Val Saint-Francois (St. Francois Valley) area is wealthy in raw materials, and this is why many people came to settle here throughout the 19th century.
This area had many mines of copper, potassium, and slate, among other ore. The construction of the railroad contributed to the growth of the area. Actually, the town of Richmond as it exists today was created in December, 1999 following the merger of the town of Richmond and the village of Melbourne. Richmond is one of the oldest settlements in the Eastern Townships, settled by colonists from the US around 1798.
The town was named after Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond and Lennox, Governor General of Upper Canada from 1818 to 1819.
The town grew in importance during the 1800s when it became a key railway junction in the area. Indeed, the St. Lawrence and Atlantic Railway opened between Montreal and Portland, Maine on April 4, 1853. It was purchased four months later and absorbed into the Grand Trunk Railway's system. In 1855, the Grand Trunk opened a line from the mainline in Richmond northeast to Levis to connect Montreal with Quebec City.
By the 1860s Richmond became an important centre, with a college, literary institute, a public library, the St. Francis Academy which was founded by the first Black American University graduate, Alexander Twilight, who taught at the academy. Richmond was also renowned for its production of Slate, Bricks, and its important Railway.
Today, the town remains an important centre for the shoemaking and clothing industries of Quebec. It is also the Eastern Townships north entry-way to wonderful tourist sites. The old railway station of Richmond proudly presents its architectural style with a restaurant the Le Dej-jo Fruits and a Motel de la gare. Besides, guests can visit the Slate Interpretation Centre, the Automobile museum, the old English Sector of the town, the Art Centre, the presbytery and the Ste-Bibiane Church. Note that the region was the first large contributor to the commercial running of slate quarries in Quebec.
Approximately ten slate quarries were run in the region of St. Francois Valley. The most important were located in Melbourne (quarries of Walton and New Rockland). At the end of the 19th century the New Rockland quarry had become the main extraction site for slate in Canada. It produced 80% of roofing slate on the Canadian market.
The New Rockland quarry closed in 1924 because less expensive roofing material became available in the market. As to the architectural heritage in the region of Richmond, it stands as a witness to the diverse culture of the four founding peoples: French, English, Scottish and Irish. Guests find many beautiful homes from the 19th century in the area. Richmond has the largest number of historical buildings built with red brick and the largest number of slate roofs in Québec.
The Sainte-Bibiane Church, the Ste-Anne and Richmond-Melbourne United Churches, the oldest Presbyterian Church in the Eastern Townships is St-Andrew’s in Melbourne are important historical buildings. In fact, the St-Andrew's Church and its manse, built around 1842, were printed on the two-dollar bill from 1945 to 1975.
The Nautical Centre on the St-Francis River in Richmond offers canoe and kayak lovers a downriver experience accompanied with guides. Guests can also rent their equipment. The "Amis de la Musique" manages the Richmond's art centre, which is also the home to other art and cultural non-profit organizations such as Artists – Painters, the Volunteer center, and the young people’s organization "Maison des Jeunes".
Situated in a hundred year old convent, the theatre in the Art Centre gives off an amazing high quality sound. With a program of classical music, popular music and programs for the young public, the art centre offers its spectators a wonderful array of shows and a warm atmosphere to enjoy them in. The art gallery’s mission is to promote Eastern Townships artists. Next to the art gallery, you will find a permanent exhibition Mont-Saint Patrice, Days gone by to Today. The Amis de la Musique also manages a Music School, which offers a quality music education.