Brome County Historical Society / Arts Williamsburg

And so it was on the Friday before Thanksgiving the painting was lifted on to an easel in the gallery of Arts Williamsburg. (Still Life, page 7, Paperback Edition)

Brome County Historical SocietyA central “character” in Louise’s magnificent Still Life, Arts Williamsburg was inspired by the real life Brome County Historical Society. Located just south of Brome Lake in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, the Historical Society was established in 1898 with the mission “to acquire, preserve, research, exhibit, interpret, and publish items of historical interest encompassing all of the historic Brome County and its sites.”

Incorporating multiple buildings, the Historical Society’s museum is a visual and tactile celebration of the power of the past. From the Tibbet’s Hill Schoolhouse (built in 1844) to the Old County Courthouse (built in 1858) and right up to the Children’s Museum (inaugurated just last year), the museum is a must-see for those who identify with George Santayana’s famous quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Not to be missed is the extensive archive which houses a bevy of material from the original pioneers of the area, including census and church records, founding family trees, and cemetery inscriptions. The Historical Society also hosts wonderful events. Upcoming happenings include a concert comprising local musicians, a picnic to celebrate the upcoming season, multiple antique and craft fairs, a Harvest Festival, and much, much more.

While not announced yet, keep an eye out for the remainder of the 2015 Lecture Series. Past topics have included “The King of Terrors:” Benedict Arnold’s Trek to Quebec Through the Eastern Townships and “A Beautiful and Picturesque sheet of water ensconced among the hills:” The Development of Tourism in the Lake Memphremagog Region, 1850 – 1900.

Brome County Historical SocietyLastly, any visit to the Historical Society should include a stop at the War Museum which houses, among many important artifacts, a WW1 Fokker DVII aircraft. Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. the Red Baron flew one of the first experimental versions of this plane and complained bitterly about its performance. As one would expect, his words did not fall on deaf ears. The engineers went back to the drawing board and modified it to the Baron’s liking. History tells us that von Richthofen was “highly” pleased with the new design although he never got to fly the DVII in combat as he was killed just 2 weeks prior to the plane’s introduction to squadron service.

For more information about the Brome County Historical Society, please visit:

Has anyone here been to the Historical Society or the Eastern Townships?

How do you feel the Arts Williamsburg/Historical Society fits into the overall theme of Still Life?

Discussion on “Brome County Historical Society / Arts Williamsburg

  1. Lillian Ramsden says:

    I went to Bishop’s University in the Eastern Townships town of Lennoxville. The autumnal scenes in the book remind me so much of that place.

  2. Joyce Golbourn says:

    I have not been to the museum since the 1960’s and have seen from the outside how it has expanded. I keep planning to re-visit and now I will for sure. I spent my summers in that area as a child and teen and have returned to enjoy my retirement summer days. God’s Country.

    • Susan Allen says:

      Totally agree with you Joyce!! Glad we have reconnected after sharing so much of our younger days! Also thanks Joyce for getting me hooked on Three Pines and Louise Penny!

  3. janice fischer says:

    My father grew up in the Eastern Townships and I spent time there in the summer when I was a kid. He lived near Chateguay I believe, in a town called Huntington. The name of the family farm was Three Pines! His family were Anglos but the town was pretty much mixed. There used to be a local paper called The Gleaner but I don’t think it exists anymore.

    • Penney says:

      Janice, I have a lot of connections in the Chateauguay Valley area, my husband’s family is all from Huntingdon. The Gleaner still exists and is an important part of the community! Here is a link to their website:

      • Paul Hochman says:

        Thanks for sharing!

      • janice fischer says:

        Penny, thank you so much! I wonder if your husband knew any of my family? Wilsons, McClenaghans, Graham, Elder. It’s been a long time but I’m pretty sure some of them still live in the area although I don’t have their names.

        • Jim Katz says:

          Graham, you say, and around Huntingdon. Would Lyall Graham be in that family? He was an auctioneer of great repute in the neighbourhood. an interesting character, always dressed the part (think barbershop quartet clothes, straw hat.) A real gentleman. I was a yard-sale and farm auction junkie and was always good for giving a quarter for a miscellaneous cardboard mystery box – to the extent that he would just steer some lots my way. “This one’s for you, Jim.” and I would have bought something sight unseen and bid unbidden!

    • Ian B says:

      I went to kindergarten and part of first grade at the french school in Huntingdon, back in the late 1970s. I remember a parade (for Fair Day?) when I was 5, where I was Snoopy on top of my doghouse. There are pictures in the Gleaner of it.

      • Ian B says:

        (we eventually ended up farther east, and had a farm just outside Scotstown, near the edge of the Townships, and almost into the Beauce region)

  4. Paul Hochman says:

    Three Pines Farm? Really? How cool!

  5. Susan Allen says:

    Go by this beautiful place nearly every day. Have visited it many, many times in my youth and since I have grown up. I visited the museum about two years ago. Well worth the trip and I feel so blessed that I live in such a beautiful part of Canada!


    Visited the museum last summer for the first time in many years. Went with a much younger brother, his wife and children. We had a great time.

  7. nadine bell says:

    My husband was a descendant of the Barnes family who donated many artifacts to the museum. We visited this site many times.

  8. Katherine Solomon says:

    On Sept. 11, my husband & I were packed & ready to leave for a vacation in Tuscany, when a friend called to tell us to turn on the t.v. Obviously, we were not flying to Italy that day, or any day soon. What to do w/the packed suitcases & heavy hearts? After pondering for a few days, we decided to visit the Eastern Townships & ended up in Knowlton. We spent a lovely week in the area, visiting Sutton, Brome, & other little towns, tasting wine at the vineyards, chocolate in every little village, & wonderful cheeses & breads. One of our favorite places was the “General Specific” store. The whole area was lovely, and a soothing, heart-healing place to be after such a terrible event.

  9. Millie says:

    I’ve only been to Canada once. For the Expo ’67 in Montreal. I just finished refreshing my memory with a Google search. I didn’t realize it is now considered the most successful & most attended World’s Fair of the 20thC! No wonder we couldn’t find a hotel room! :-) Mom still thinks reservations aren’t necessary. lol

    Other than the magnificence of the fair itself two things stand out. Our first experience of real traffic! OMG! And the warmth and kindness of the people. There were special kiosks set up at the entrance to help people find lodging. We were told of family homes who had prepared space for visitors when it became apparent the hotels were maxing out. We stayed with a delightful family with 3 children. I remember one of the boys was called Guy! I believe it was in the ‘Eastern Townships’. Having lived most of my life in ‘row houses’ in big cities with little to no yards, I was amazed at the size of their home and property.

    It was wonderful to end a day of touring and play with the Québécois kids in the yard. Badminton, for one. My brother and I were really bad since we had never played it before. Where? But what I really loved was the openness of the area and the people and their more relaxed attitude towards ‘life’, once away from the traffic at least. Remembering this has added another level of understanding comments in Louise’s books, such as “Annie and Jean-Guy are coming but caught in traffic…” I had completely forgotten.

    I also remember spending evenings around the picnic table outdoors with the 3 kids and the fun and giggles of them teaching us words in French and we teaching them words in Spanish. We communicated in English but but there was a sence of fascination and joy in learning not only new words and how others lived and spent their time. One of the best summers of my childhood. We all wished we could have explored more or at least return, but life took us in a different direction. That’s OK. Hopefully soon.

    Thanks to all who have posted for expanding our view of the area.

  10. Eve Marshall says:

    I worked at the Museum for two summers in the mid ’70’s. Surrounded by amazing artifacts and every item had a story behind them. Still my favourite job.

    I totally enjoy Inspector Gamache’s treks through the picturesque Townships – it really takes me home again.

  11. Deniz says:

    I’ve visited the Eastern Townships many times but unfortunately I only discovered the Gamache novels last year — after we’d moved from Montreal to Geneva! Reading them is a lovely reminder of back home — especially the endless winters we’ve escaped from!

    • Maurice says:

      “an unread book is a treasure”
      I am a bit of a book hoarder, never have too many, especially by Louise Penny.

  12. A. Mary Nichols says:

    Once I discovered the Inspector Gamache series, like many others I am sure, I have had to work my way through the series. At the Darwin Barker Library, Fredonia, NY USA, today, I settled down at one of the computers to do a little research, and was totally surprised to see that a previous user had left their search in the boxes. Name “Louise Penny”. Book: “Still Life”. I only wish I had been able to meet that person to discuss our mutual admiration of the author!

  13. Paul Hochman says:

    Great story, A. Mary. Small world, amazing author!

  14. Paul Hochman says:

    Not to worry, Maurice. We’re all book hoarders here!

  15. Donna says:

    I live in Saint-Jean, QC, and really enjoy having areas I am familiar with in your books. Maybe this summer, some visits to places like the Brome County Historical Society, etc., would be fun!

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