The history of the early years of the Township of Shefford has been profoundly marked by war and international crises. Among the first to make their mark were the many Loyalists who settled here during the American War of Independence. Initially the land became a haven for American families exiled for their continued allegiance to the British Crown, or for their lukewarm acceptance of the institutions of the new American republic.
Born in 1792, the humble village of Shefford grew up in the space of just 50 years. In the first days exiled Loyalists had to demonstrate that they had suffered losses as a result of their loyalty to the Crown. They also had to put together a group of colonists to swear allegiance and promise to develop the land granted to their families. They had to open roads, build mills and oversee the township, at their own expense. The Charter of the Township of Shefford was signed by Robert Shore Milnes, Lieutenant Governor of Lower Canada, on February 14, 1801. The worst enemies of Shefford's early settlers were the mosquitoes and black flies. The area was infested and many people suffered real torture. Less constant, but very dangerous, wolves were another major problem for farmers. The nearest post office was in Vermont, US. The closest village worthy of the name was several days’ walk. Harvests were small and barely enough to meet local needs. The farm markets had very little to sell.
The road from Shefford to Montreal long and perilous; crossing the river was very much subject to the whims of nature and passing boats. The tiny colony was struggling.
As industry developed, it provided a nearby market for agricultural products, bringing greater wealth to the settlers who had chosen farming. While Shefford's first colonists were farmers, the second wave arrived around 1810. This new contingent consisted mostly of businessmen and industrialists. In those times, the population was English-speaking.
There began a francophone migration, punctuated by economic crises that forced many French Canadians to look for new land or for factory work. As industry developed, it provided a nearby market for agricultural products, bringing greater wealth to the settlers who had chosen farming. Nowadays, most of natural landscape has been preserved and property taxes remain low has found a choice location in Shefford.
Still, the residential development that has marked Québec in the last dozens of years remains limited in Shefford territory. Measures have been taken to prevent any concentrations that would be too demanding in environmental and fiscal terms. Growth is constant, but it is the result of city dwellers who come looking for a more "natural" lifestyle after retirement
. Address of Shefford:
245, chemin Picard Shefford
Phone: 450 539-2258
Site Internet: www.cantonshefford.qc.ca