Haut-St-Lawrence County

The communities of the region offer a variety of architectural detail and exciting landscapes. Cozy 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 local landscape and serve as guide posts for our local and regional history.

This territory was colonized since 1729, when the King of France granted a vast territory to two brothers, Charles and Claude Beauharnois de Beaumont. This land bordered the St Lawrence River to the west of the Chateauguay River.

Following the British conquest of Nouvelle-France, the territory was divided into cantons and opened to colonization. The land changed owners a few times. Finally, it was acquired by a British merchant Alexander Ellice in 1795, and it was under his control that the real settlement begun, first along the shoreline of the St. Lawrence and the banks of the Chateauguay River.

The arrival of immigrants from Scotland and Ireland began around 1800. Besides American emigrants, seeking cultivatable lands, crossed the border from New York State to settle at the foot of Covey Hill. This English-speaking settlement spread throughout the territory. Along the littoral zone of the St. Lawrence, however, the French Canadians settled after 1789.

Between 1760 and 1830, logging industry transformed the landscapes of the Haut Saint-Laurent, as the woods composed of majestic pine and oak were highly valued by the English navy for shipbuilding. Villages developed and became the regional centre for the timber trade and various services.

Later, in the middle of the XIXth Century, following the decline of the wood industry, some villages were abandoned, leaving behind a set of buildings which typify this period in the history of the Haut Saint-Laurent. Today, perched on a hillock in the middle of a pasture, stands the ruins of the La Guerre United Church and its cemetery, with headstones dispersed around the building, testifying to the Scottish origins of this abandoned community.

Over time, pre-colonial forest has gone, the last surviving example of them is the Muir Woods in the Municipality of Hinchinbrooke, the only pre-colonial forest still in place. 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 determining role of this family in preserving this exceptional site.

In the 19th century, British colonists built their farm houses of brick, wood or stone. They were usually fairly far from the road and surrounded by mature trees. The most common architectural style featured a gabled dormer, usually with a window under an arch of ornately carved woodwork. Brick was also used to construct farm buildings, particularly for the first floor, supported by a stone foundation.

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