Sunday, June 5, 2011

Victorian splendor in Knowlton

Victorian splendor still exists in Knowlton

Photo by David Milligan (courtesy "Destination Knowlton')
By M. Helmuth Starhemberg
Lac Brome was created in 1971, following the merger of seven municipalities (Knowlton, West Brome, Foster, Fulford, Iron Hill, Bondville and East Hill), Lac-Brome surrounds Brome Lake. The name refers to a village in Suffolk County, England. The elegant Victorian village of Knowlton, the largest in Lac-Brome, is famous for its Loyalist roots and splendid built heritage. It was established upon the arrival of Colonel Paul Holland Knowlton, who came from Vermont and who built a flourmill in 1836, a sawmill and a store. These establishments quickly became popular and prosperous, transforming Knowlton into a small upper-class village by the end of the 19th century. By 1855, the village, a regional centre for telegraph reception, had a post office and an inn and became the seat of Brome County government. As early as 1867, vacationers were attracted to the town and have come there ever since. But today the town is different and one aspect of it is that it has its own fighter plane, a Focker Dr-Vii, one of only seven left in the world and this one is in pristine, unrestored condition and can bee seen in the local museum.

 Knowlton today is not totally reliant on tourism as it has a duck farm, which has been pruducing Peking ducks which are sold worldwide. The farm employs up to 150 people and their products are a staple at local restaurants and gourmet shops. There is also a manufacturing plant which makes packaging for a variety of cosmetics companies, bottling plants etc. It employes more than 300 people. Thus, Knowlton has a secure employment base, which other tourist towns in the area lack.
Attractions is town are the beautiful waterfall on mill pond, the Pettes Memorial Library, storied Victorian homes some of which can be visited by tourists. There is a playhouse which every year puts on original new theater and of course there is the lake. Sailing, swimming, fishing and even motorboating is allowed and visitors only have to pay a nominal fee to park and put their watercraft into the lake.

Pettes Memorial Library (courtesy)
On the culinary side, there is a bevy of fine restaurants, a couple of bistros and the great Knowlton Pub. For accomodations, there are three fine hotels and numerous B&Bs, auberges and private residences, available by the week or month. Knowlton will host the 33rd annual foot race in June, has a huge duck festival and many other activities right through Christmas, where the annual Santa Claus parade is held. For visitors less interested in the fine hiking and biking trails, there are antiques stores and boutiques, a superb book shop and the opportunity for shutterbugs of all ages to take splendid photos of some of the finest homes of the Royalist and Victorian area.

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