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Le Courant

Automne 2016 | 18

The municipality of St-Hermenegilde

The Municipality of St Hermenegilde

                 St-Herménégilde

The Municipality of St. Hermenegilde is very large and has an area of 169 kilometers. The economy of the municipality is currently maintained through agriculture and forestry. The municipality is composed of two townships, the Township of East Hereford is located in the eastern section of the municipality while the Township of Barford is found to be more in the direction of Coaticook. The population of this municipality is 692 persons. To be found here are permanent residents and seasonal residents, both of whom enjoy what nature has to offer in                         St. Hermenegilde.

    

St. Hermenegilde grew into a settlement becoming larger as more land was added onto the municipality over the years. Loyalists came from the United States to form a community by building a chapel, school, post office, and a cemetery. The first settlement was named Perryboro. The second settlement that developed was known as Villette. This settlement had a general store, a post office, a blacksmith shop and a school - all the necessary amenities of a small village.

Another settlement was formed around the same time, Hereford. To be found in Hereford was the Half Way Hotel. It belonged to a Mrs. Viens and was destroyed by fire. In Hereford you can still see the cemetery on the chemin des Cotes as well as the neighboring school which, over time, was transformed into a house. The village chapel is still in the same place and is easily recognized by the orange roof and accompanying cemetery. The large house , a short distance away, belonged to Raoul Tremblay and is now converted into a family home. This home was formerly known as the general store. Some people still remember that in the store was a demarcation line noting that on one side of this line you stood in Canada. If you crossed over the demarcation line, you stood in the United States. This store belonged to Raoul Tremblay and he also owned the sawmill on ch. des Cotes. Another sawmill was located on ch. Charest. It belonged to Mr. Jackson. The reason that so many sawmills were in use, was due to the fact that there was an increased need in wood for construction in the early days of the new settlements. Mr. Jackson also owned another sawmill on the road leading out of Wallace Lake, close to the Americain border. Gradually another settlement began to form and was known as la Slousse. About 20 families lived in this particular area. Today no more people live there and the area is generally considered as a paradise for hunters.

The area around St. Heremenegilde is considered a nature lover's dream. Four lakes and intermittent forests dot the area. The most important of the lakes is Wallace Lake which can be found on the border between the United States and Canada. Two-thirds of the lake belong in Canada while one-third rests in the United States. Lake Lippe is also located in this territory. This lake was named after the surveyor who was responsible for the surveying of this area. William Lippe also lived in a house in the middle of the village. Another lake found near St. Hermenegilde is Lake Duquette which is considered more of a marshy area or a swamp. This place is now recognized as an ornithological site. It is very interesting to observe the many species of birds who use this habitat. The last of the named lakes is called le lac des Francais. This lake was so called by this name because in 1871, two families from France came to settle here. The Leblanc and Briquebrule families came and joined the various citizens of St. Hermenegilde. It is easy to recognize the difference between the arrangement of the farm buildings here in Quebec from those which were built in France. The barn, the house and the outbuildings were built in such a way to form an inner farmyard.

Nature has left us another beautiful spot, namely Hereford Mountain which has been calculated to be 75 feet higher than Mount Orford. Mr. Tillotson, who owned the mountain, wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, on the mountain. He wanted to build a road, Centennial Road, that would allow him to travel and celebrate his birthday on top of the mountain. Mr. Tillotson was in good physical shape and was mentally very alert. He really wanted to celebrate his hundredth year, on the mountain.

The first road to go through St. Hermenegilde was connected to the Craig Road which allowed for travel between Compton and Boston. Another nearby road gave access in the direction of Quebec City. The road at this time was convenient for foot traffic and, of course, horse travel. We owe the growth of the village and surrounding area to the first French Canadian settlers who came and set down roots in St. Hermenegilde. The first settler was Jean-Baptiste Gendron and he came to farm the land in 1858. Other settlers who followed the Gendron family were the Desaindes, Vaillancourty, Courchenes and Dupont families, to name a few. The first chapel was built in 1869. Before this time, mass was held in different homes led by missionaries who came from Compton. The first chapel was built on the same site where the present church is located today. His Reverence, Joseph-Armand Dufrenes was the first priest to serve the parish. The first post office opened in 1874 and Mrs. Evangeline Leblanc pleasantly took care of the mail. The stones used in the building of the church came from a quarry on Hereford Mountain, extracted solely for this purpose. All the granite stones necessary for the construction of the church were hauled to the site, then the quarry was abandoned.

It was in 1903 that St. Hermenegilde was officially incorporated as a municipality and Alfred Lanciaux became the first mayor. In 1915, nuns arrived in St. Hermenegilde and took over education in the already existing school which was built in 1891. To be found across the various ranges of the municipality were approximately a dozen schools. St. Hermenegilde had two hotels at the turn of the century. The Spanish Flu took its toll in 1918 and 44 deaths were ascribed to this epidemic. The village had a creamery, a bakery, a food co-op, a gas station, a grist mill, the general store, stables and a blacksmith shop which later became a garage for cars when they first became popular.

The geographical location contributed to smuggling in this area for many years. Animals would cross the river, and the border, ferrying liquor and cigarettes without being caught.

It is significant to note that 40% of the territory of St. Hermenegilde is located in a white zone which promotes camp grounds, a favorite activity of the region. The region is in a good position for anything to do with agro-tourism. St. Hermenegilde is a scenic and a large municipality, historically interesting, containing popular attractions which is a good indicator of future growth.

Source of Information: Jean-Marc Dupont and Gerard Duteau

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