The Village of North Hatley, Quebec: Beauty Beyond Expectations

I'd always heard that Quebec's Eastern Townships region is very beautiful. Even so, its charming village of North Hatley, sort of a French version of New England, exceeded my expectations on a recent trip.

“Picturesque” hardly begins to describe North Hatley, a dollhouse of a village nestled on the shore of magnificent Lake Massawippi. Settled in 1793 by Crown Loyalists who moved north after refusing American independence, the village retains its distinctive New England-inspired architecture.

Some buildings are close to 200 years old, and house art galleries, antique shops, cafes and bed-and-breakfasts whose very names reminded me this definitely isn't New England. I browsed happily through quilts, crafts and knickknacks at Passerose Vetements Cadeaux, then lunched at Le Pilsen on traditional French-Canadian pea soup and rich, creamy cheesecake.

A 34-mile bike and footpath that heads north to Sherbrooke along the Massawippi River starts here, offering a wonderful way to work off some of that cheesecake. I opted for a walk, enjoying scenic overlooks until the sun sank below the Appalachian Mountains.

I'd splurged on a stay at the elegant Auberge Hatley and enjoyed a sumptuous eight-course meal at its renowned restaurant. Later, I lingered on my room's balcony. Gazing at the glowing lights of this delightful town reflected in the lake, I could only say, “C'est magnifique!”

Before You Visit

North Hatley is in southeastern Quebec on Highway 108, about 6 miles east of Canadian Autoroute 55 (which becomes I-91 in the United States, about 25 miles to the south) and about 95 miles east of Montreal.

For more information about North Hatley, call Tourism Eastern Townships at 1-819-820-2020.

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