The Chateauguay River takes its source at the Chateauguay Lake in Brainersville, N.Y. The river is fed by its basin of 2543 square km, on both sides of the border of Canada and the United States.
On its journey of 127 km, the Chateauguay River runs through a number of municipalities, parishes, townships, villages and towns, as well as through six regional communities (MRC in Quebec and Counties in the US) to empty into the St. Lawrence River, by the town of Chateauguay.
The hamlets and localities in the region offer a wealth of architectural detail and exciting landscapes. Small farms, stables and barns, wells, silos made of wood or stone, old school-houses, family cemeteries, flour mills, stone walls and bridges are some of the elements that dot the landscape and serve as guide posts for our local and regional history.
In 1729, the King of France granted a vast territory to the west of the Seigneurie of Chateauguay to two brothers, Charles and Claude Beauharnois de Beaumont. These lands measured 6 leagues square and bordered the Saint Lawrence River. Due to the slow pace of its development, the territory changed owners a few times. The territory began to be settled, first along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence and the banks of the Chateauguay River.
Following the British conquest of Nouvelle-France, the territory was divided into cantons and opened to colonization. The arrival of immigrants from Scotland and Ireland began around 1800, at the same time as American emigrants, seeking cultivatable lands, crossed the border from New York State to settle at the foot of Covey Hill.
In the beginning of the XIX Century logging operations transformed the landscapes as the forest of majestic pine and oak were highly valued by the English navy for shipbuilding. At the time, English-speaking communities spread throughout the territory.
Over time, agriculture and forestry caused the extinction of the woods, and the last surviving example of the pre-colonial forest is the Muir Woods in Hinchinbrooke, the only pre-colonial forest preserved. This 11-hectar woodland survived because the Muir family, originally from Scotland, had a highly unusual interest in conservation. The oldest trees have been there for 150 to 300 years. By designating the Muir Woods as an ecological reserve in 1995, the Government of Quebec recognized the role of this family in preserving this exceptional site.
The hydraulic power generated by the waters of the Chateauguay, Trout and English rivers gave rise to mills and, subsequently, small towns along their borders such as Athelstan,Kensington, Huntingdon, Dewittville, Ormstown, Howick and Saint-Chrysostome. Of these, Huntingdon became centres for business and services in the region in the early XX Century. At the end of the century, the Village of Ormstown became as the centre of Quebec’s brick industry.
The architecture of Lambton, Church and Bridge Streets in Ormstown, and Chateauguay, King and Prince Streets in Huntingdon, testify to the prosperity of the area. Bordered by mature trees, these streets boast houses whose four-square architectural style was influenced by the American vernacular style, predominately red brick and clapboard. Pavilion roofs generally include a dormer window on the front façade and architectural details which are clear sign of the Anglo-Saxon influence.
The Covey Hill, located on the foothills of the Adirondacks, looks over the Chateauguay Valley at an altitude of 342 metres. Along the 1st Concession Road, Route 202 and Covey Hill Road, a few hamlets, such as Herdman, Rockburn, Bridgetown and Franklin are home to some true architectural treasures.
With their activity and lifestyle, Scottish, Irish and French colonists shaped the landscape of the area and cultural exchanges resulted in many different architectural styles.
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