A personal view of Knowlton, Quebec, the Eastern Townships most beautiful village.

Environmental Fair Comes to Brome
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AS the colors change in September we are reminded of our connection to nature.The Environmental Fair is coming to Brome and Knowlton is gearing up for what promises to be an exciting and innovative gathering. The "Foire Environmenale" as it is known by organizers will be held September 30th and October 1st at the Brome Fair Grounds.

The fair will focus attention on "green technologies" and innovative environmental strategies to deal with our rapidly changing planet and natural resources. Over 100 groups will have displays and information booths showcasing their specific expertise in the environmental area. Not only will major Universities be providing information on cutting edge technologies and research but there will be a host of consultants, researchers, naturopaths, plant and wildlife experts giving conferences throught the weekend long event. Mario Paris, President of Knowlton's very own local environmentally firendly businesses, CanadianPond.ca Products Ltd., will be presenting a conference to the audience on Saturday regarding natural floating islands and their ability to help the environment.

The schedule of events and more information is available at ProjetEcosphere.org.

With growing concern over the environment and such local issues as Mount Orford development and the closing of local lakes include Brome Lake due to toxic algaes; the fair is sure to be an exciting forum for discussion as topics of renewable resources, pesticide usage, wetland protection, geothermic and solar energy and the care and development of our forestry are planned.

The lovely illustration by Caroline Joncas is the main publicity poster for the fair.The fair also spotlights new techniques and ideas for living, health as well as lifestyles and seign based on progressive and more environmental philosophies.

Ecological topics will include: Geothermal and masonry stoves heating, solar panels and water heaters, Wind turbines and Water treatment and waste water/rainwater recycling systems.

New green technologies, natural foods, organic and greenhouse gardening as well as natural fertilizer and composting, ponds and gardens and biodiversity will be highlighted.

The fair will be much more than just dry discussions!

There will be music throughout the week-end as well as photography exhibits and even a film festival including some brand new documentaries like Jungle (2206) directed by Pierre-E Lessard and the popular Under The Weather (1997) directed by Tali. As well, there are activities for younger people and a babysitting service for the wee ones. A story-telling corner and craft activities are also planned so the whole family will enjoy the fair. Tickets are $10. More Info ProjetEcosphere.org.

Weather won't "Fowl" Duck Fest Week-end
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While day one of the duck fest was wet...the mood was still upbeat!The Brome Lake Duck Festival started the first week-end of the two week-end 2006 edition with much anticipation and planning finally turning into reality. Saturday started with what may be considered perfect weather...perfect for ducks! While the rains fell on the sparse crowds in ColdBrook Park and most of the picnic tables were empty except for pools of water the tents that were set-up around town were great spots to stop and stay dry and enjoy a sip of a new wine or to have a taste of a duck brochette.

The musical entertainment was courageous to find their muse in the cool damp air but still the sounds of songs filled the air! The dress-code of the day was indeed raingear-yellow which was almost fitting as the festival-goers who trotted up the Lakeside hill looked like plump ducks going for walkies!

Sunday weather was great and crowds streamed into ColdBrook PArk to enjopy the day!While the rains may have dampened some spirits there were still a hearty few who decided that no wet winds were going to spoil a taste of fine duck cuisine! Sunday, the skies cleared and by early afternoon on Sunday the streets were full of windowshoppers and folks simply enjoying the bright colors and sounds of the duck fest.

Sunday turned out to be a fantastic day at the Festival with a crisp wind blowing the gorgeous red and orange leaves into the bright blue sky. The splashing water spilling over the Coldbrook dam mixed with the sounds of the cheery accordian player and piano music drifting down from in front of the Star Cafe. The park was full as the weather allowed familes to come out in force to taste the food and enjoy the arts and crafts exhibitions.

The Brome Lake Duck farm helped sponsor some wonderful cooking demonstrations to the crowds on Sunday in the park. The accordian player strolled through the village while master chefs demonstrated some of the finer points in the art of cooking with duck.

Cooking deomonstrations in the park were well attended.

The shops and restaurants were full and the shuttle bus was giving free rides to the Brome Lake Duck Farm as curious visitors browsed through the village. The brief showers at the end of day only added a bit more excitement to the event and by then, with a belly full of duck and a few glasses of wine, no-one seemed to mind a bit!

The last halk of the Knowlton Duck Festival and the Big Duck Race takes place September 30th and October 1st. We're all looking forward to next week-end for the second part of the Knowlton Duck Fest and the Big Duck Race. Get Quackin'!

Dawson Tragedy Impacts Knowlton Children
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A simple memorial and call for peace by Knowlton youngsters as their simple white fence decoration was a lovlely tribute to the victims of the recent violence in Montreal.

The senseless shootings at Dawson College by a disturbed young man made us appreciate the fact that we lived far from the violence occuring in larger cities and towns. We were always appalled when hearing of such unfathomable acts of violence but when they occur in one of our nearby Cegeps it makes us stop and think. Of course, we would like to shield our children from learning about such disturbing and horriffic acts and seeing pictures of such tradgedies but it seems that even our young children, in today's world connected by a hyper-accelerated network of communications, are becoming exposed to these events almost as fast as they happen.

In front of the Saint Edward school in Knowlton, the children covered the fence with ribbons after the Montreal shootings. Obviousely the sad event in Montreal affected even the youngsters of Knowlton and the ribbons on the fence were a poignant reminder of the hope that exists in our kids. The children tied a "peace" sign and the words PAIX in a tribute to the victims of the shooting.

Living in such peacful areas as Knowlton and the Eastern Townships allows us to feel a sense of security and neighbourhood that doesn't always exist in the over-populated areas of many cities. Still, with the infiltration of television and the Internet into our homes, it is impossible to remain completely buffered from the crime and despair that often make up the news of the day.

The events of September 13th, when a man shot 19 people and killed one, at the downtown Montreal Dawson College, forces us to try and explain an often unexplainable world to our young children. It is never easy but as we learn more about the disturbed condition of the person responsible for the shooting it is clear the importance of family communication given the often evil state of the modern world.

Seeing the simple memorial, made by the young students of the Knowlton school, was indeed touching.

Brome Lake Duck Festival
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the DuckFest is one of the toursit highlights in the Eastern Townships!
The 6th Annual Brome Lake DuckFest also known in French as "Canard en Fete au Lac Brome" is starting this upcoming weekend and the preparations of organizers which have gone on throughout the year are coming to fruition. The excitement and anticipation of visitors who have planned their vacation in Quebec for the incredible Duck Festival is at a peak and the village of Knowlton is preparing for the thousands of tourists who will flock to the town for the annual event.

The Knowlton Duck Festival, even though it is a relatively new celebration, only 6 years old, has become one of the largest attractions for Knowlton in the last few years. Of course the popularity of the fall celebration is due in part to our beautiful folliage this time of year, when the trees turn a vibrant flaming explosion of reds organges and golds; but the village of Knowlton is also the perfect setting and our hospitality and friendliness has made this annual event one of the prime reason for folks to visit the Eastern Townships in September.

And let's not forget the ducks! The ducks are really the star of the show for the two-weekend extravaganza!

People gather in Knowlton to taste the newest duck creations from world class chefs and to enjoy the signature hospitality that is is Knowlton.

Knowlton is one of the most beautiful villages in Quebec and the Coldbrook park in the village center is a popular gathering place for tourists seeking a quiet lunch spot.The Duckfest is expectng up to 50,000 visitors over the two-weekend event as people from all over Quebec, Ontario, Vermont, New York and around the world travel to the Eastern Townships for the Brome Festival of Ducks.

The beautiful village of Knowlton is literally transformed into a pedestrians paradise as the streets are filled with tasting booths, music, artists and displays by world renowned chefs demonstarting the fine art of cooking with duck. Every day from 11am to 5pm best chefs from the region and invited stars of cooking will descend into the village center to demonstrate cooking techniques, share duck recipes and if previous years are any indication, the streets of Knowlton will be full of people who are eager to share their delight in enjoying fine food and wine.

Not only wine will be accompanying the freshly cooked duck but local producers of ciders, fruits, breads, jams and honey will be on hand to sell their unique regional produce. You can taste a full range of home-grown produce and it doesn't stop there! The Knowlton streets will be filled with artists from the region, across Quebec and beyond displaying their talents and unique creations.

Local musicians playing folk to classical are on many corners during the Duck Festival. From James Brown to Chopin can be heard throughout the village.Strolling about the village of Knowlton, as you enjoy the beauty of the ColdBrook trail and Victoria street and the central village of Lakeside and Knowlton Road, you will have music on many street corners. From tradtitional Quebec music to well known folk songs the duck festival has everything from old-fashioned accordian music to classical. With the closing of streets in town it is the perfect ambiance to walk, talk and meet friends and strangers as the village turns into one giant party.

The popularity of this fall event has lead to the start of what some local businessess are are christening the "The Month of the Duck" in Brome-Missisquoi which represents some two dozen different restaurants that are celebrating Brome Lake's famous duck along with the region's many wines on their menus throughout the month of October.

Knowlton is actually on the tail end of the regions Wine Route and the area is well known for fine wines, ice ciders and specialty produce and incredible locally grown meats and perveyors of international cheeses.

While the hungry fans of fine duck cuisine are busy investigating the latest creations being demonstrated by a chef in front of the Auberge Knowlton there will also be fun for the youngsters of the family who may prefer to see some barnyard creatures and have a trip to the petting zoo. The Duckfest will have fun and activities for the children throughout the busy two weekends. This year promises to bring the event into a whole new level. The sophistication of the events and the quality of the invitees to the Lac Brome Festival of Ducks has improved every year and the organizers should be proud of this year's event!

The presentation of the meal is one of the more imprtant measures of quality.The succulent Brome Lake Duck has always been one of the specialties of many of the of the chefs the Eastern Townships and during the annual Duck Festival they always seem to present some new and original duck recipes as well as the favorites and classic dishes. With this season's harvest in full swing the timing is ideal to combine duck with a full spectrum of our region's freshest produce. The food combined with the people who attend make this festival the ultimate holiday getaway for those of us who insist on gastronomical sophistication.

Knowlton area restaurants participating in the Festival include: Auberge Knowlton/Le Relais, Auberge Lakeview, Au Trois Canard, Etchea Cafr-Restaurant and Le St-Martin; in Foster, the Auberge du Joli Vent and Auberge Quilliams; in West Brome, the Auberge West Brome; le Gastronome in Sutton, Owl's Bread in Mansonville and the Chateau Bromont in Bromont.

Some of the well-known, classic duck recipes like Breast of Duck With Raspberry, Duck with Sliced Smoked Duck breast stuffed with Mont St-Benoit Cheese, Duck Legs in a Salt Crust,Duck with Apple and Gingerand Brome Lake Duck Tartare and Carpaccio, with Rose and Eastern Townships Benedictin Blue Cheese are sure to served but often the local and invited chefs create stunning new dishes that are simple unbelievable.

The Duck Cookbook : Few ingredients are as intimidating to the home chef as duck. But with the guidance of award-winning author James Peterson, anyone can learn to prepare this incredibly versatile, flavorful bird. The Duck Cookbook is the only complete guide to duck. With his signature style, the author explains the different varieties available and the best cooking methods for each part of the duck. Chapters begin with lessons on a single cooking technique-from sautéing to smoking-then move on to specific dishes such as soups, salads, and confit. The perfect gift for the adventurous cook with a spirit of adventure.

Started in 1912 on the western shore of Brome Lake, the Brome Lake Duck farm is the oldest duck-breeding farm in all of Canada. The native New Yorker who started the farm just before World War 1 chose to breed Peking duck; a large-bodied white duck with a distinct yellow bill and feet, as well as delicious meat which had been first imported from China to the United States in 1873. Family later moved the farm and its buildings to the other side of the lake and the farm was set up in an area where the ducks could swim freely in the lake during times of summer heat. Now one of the largest employers in the area the farm has annual production that is close to 3,000,000 ducks which are imported to food service industries around the globe including Asia, South America and Europe.

Some residents decry the festival portrayal of the cute and happy ducks as completely un-realistic considering the factory farm nature of the common poultry production plant. To them, the images of free running ducks happily quacking and ruffling their feathers in the rain is not quite the reality of todays production-line farms and some object to the yearly portrayal of happy ducks who seem to relish the possibilty of ending up on a dinner plate as a Disney-esque fantasy. The crowded conditions of the modern poultry farm are what some radicals consider to be more a place of cruelty than a cartoon vision of ducks happily quacking.

The crowded conditions of North American factory farms is nothing new...blaming duck farmers is unfair!Small farms with limited commercial infiltration may be able to afford to use farming techniques that allow for free-range conditions but a large food plant with international clients hungry for their products in increasing numbers must use the often contreversial system of production. While residents of Knowlton regularly see large trucks hauling live ducks to the Brome Lake Duck Plant in crowded, caged trailers, it is important to note that most meat-producing industries have been criticized for their cruelty by animal rights groups and to single out our Duck Farm is un-fair.

There are of course people who dismiss the festival as nothing more than a gimmick to have people visit the area but the same could be said about almost any festival in Quebec and after all isn't that the idea of creating a unique event? The Knowlton business community with the Chamber of Commerce are trying new and innovative ways to bring tourists and their dollars into the region and it is hardly fair to paint this desire as a some sort of "gimmick".

Montreal has their Festival of Lights which is a mid-winter festival that was created solely to help local merchants through a typically quiet tourist season and Granby has a Song Festival that is designed not only to showcase talent in the area but also to have people visit and put the town on the map. There is nothing wrong with that and Knowlton, being a unique and lovely town, should not be looked down upon for creating the Duck Fest. As many large industries leave small Quebec towns it is such forward-thinking and innovative solutions than can help restore an area's economy.

Surely we deserve bouquets not brickbats for the creation of the popular Duck Festival!

The 2006 Brome Lake Duck Festival is surely to be one of the most popular ever, we look forward to seeing you there!

The Amazing Race...Knowlton Style!
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More ducks than you can shake a stick at!We've all seen the bright posters for the upcoming Brome Lake DuckFest and now there has been a new and enticing twist to this years party: the First Great Duck Race!

While many of us are anxious to enjoy the Brome Lake Duck Festival and the street festival atmosphere that invades the streets of Knowlton like an intoxicating carnival parade we are also clutching our lucky Duck Race tickets (or two or three tickets!) and can't wait to see the hundreds of "rubber duckies" roll down the Coldbrook!

The anticipation is growing in Knowlton for the first ever Duck Race to be held Sunday, October 1st, as the closing event of the very popular Duck Festival which starts the last weekend in September and runs two consecutive week-ends marking one of the highlights of our busy tourist season.

How does it work? The hundreds of bright yellow rubber ducks are each numbered and if you hold a ticket your ticket number will correspond to a number printed on one of the ducks. The ducks are then dumped, cerimoniousely of course, into the Coldbrook where they wind their way down towards the finish line. There are prizes for the first seven ducks to cross the line. First prize is an amazing voyage for two courtesy of Swiss Air! Other prizes include gift certificates and of course just participating gives you bragging rights to the fact that you sponsored a duck and helped raise money for a great cause.

A part of all monies raised will go to the Shriners of Montreal, who are well-know for helping sick children in hospitals, and the Quebec Youth Help Line which helps provide listening lines for youth in need of help in Quebec. Very worthy causes!

Tickets have been on sale now all over Knowlton for some time at many popular businesses like Flanagans, the Knowlton Marina, the Star Cafe and other local Brome Lake Chamber of Commerce associates.

The action starts at 1 pm, October 1st, in Coldbrook park.

Coldbrook Park in Knowlton is a beautiful place for a picnic and during the Duck Festival it will be one of the Eastern Townships most popular destinations!The duck race is a popular event in many Canadian cities and towns who wish to raise funds and also provide a unique event during festivals. The Knowlton Chamber of Commerce actually "rents" the little yellow ducks and they are flown in especially for the event and then they'll be fished out of the Coldbrook and dried off and sent to their next assignment!

The next stop for the yellow ducks could be one of many Rotary Club of Canada events who have been holding duck races since 1988 to incredible success. Rotarians are responsible for sponsoring, promoting and selling over 52,000 Ducks since 1988, and local Rotarians around Canada have raised over $3.5 million to combate child abuse over the years. All the best for this first annual Duck Race and what a great idea to help rasise funds for such worthy and hellpful organizations.

Tickets are $5 and are available until the day of the race at our best merchants in Knowlton and area. It caps off what is surely going to be an incredible DuckFest! We'll see you there!

Back to School: Watch Out For Our Kids!
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The daycare near the new Knowlton Center sees a lot of traffic that takes Victoria Street for granted that it is a residential area with pedestrians. The Eastern Townships School Board is back in the swing of things and the schools and playgrounds in Knowlton are buzzing with activity and games. The excitement of returning to class is still being felt by many families and with children running about the school yards chasing each other and playing it is important that drivers take extra care when driving through our school zones.

The Brome Lake council is working hard to get support from the Ministry of Transport to help reduce dangers to inhabitants(it was just announced that Transport Quebec will actually be installing a new flashing traffic light on Route 139 and McCurdy Road in West Brome) but we all have to remember that all of us have a role to play.

The town of Knowlton has installed some very high-end cobblestone crosswalks this summer and some large and well defined pedestrian crossing areas on Knowlton Road, Victoria and Lakeside as well as other roads and a petition has recently been presented to council trying to get speeds on certain roads reduced from 70 km/h to 50 km/h to prevent accidents.

Even with such installations it is not hard to see cars rushing through designated crosswalks when there are people actually waiting to cross the street! We often consider these folks to be Montreal drivers but there is some local drivers who sem to have a "blind-spot" for the crosswalk signs. Cars have been spotted failing to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk at the Knowlton Academy crosswalk and even in front of the daycare on Victoria street cars have refused to stop when pedestrains waited for them to stop and yield.

The crosswalk in front of the Post Office is usually a safe bet to have the traffic give people a brake but it is frustrating when impatient drivers don't let the foot-traffic pass. Such bad manners...they must be visiting from the big city!!

These reflective orange cones and bright signs should make it clear that we need to be carefull and offer the right of way.It's up to us to set the example. After all, life here is rather slow-paced so when we see little-ones in the streets waiting to cross we should do the right thing and slow down. Children are being taught to respect the traffic signs but when a group of youngesters stand in a crosswalk and see a car drive right by them without stopping it sends a poor message!

Most of us who have travelled in Canada have seen that in many areas a pedestrian only has to think about crossing the street and the cars will begin to slow down! While Quebec drivers are not at that advanced stage yet there is still hope!

Maybe we just need a little reminder that safety is all of our responsibilities and the city and transport Ministry can make improvements but all of us have to try and set the example! So here is a reminder: Slow down for the sake of the kids!

Can You Hear Me Now? Cell Tower To Be Built
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The height and look of the Knowlton area cellphone tower has yet to be announced. This is a generic cell tower...As many of us who carry a cellphone already know there are many areas in the Eastern Townships that are "no signal" zones for analog and digital cellphone reception.

How many of us have been driving down the 104, talking on the phone (yes it's actually dangerous to "yap and roll" but that's another story) and had the voice at the other end start sounding like a hollow submarine echo-fest before completely going dead...hello? Hello?

Often business-people or labouring workers who are attempting to contact a client or the central dispatch find themselves near enough to a town like Knowlton, Sutton. Mansonville or Cowansville yet looking at their phone screens they see the dreaded "lack of bars" or "service not available" sign flashing!

We need better cell phone reception and the ability to recieve and make calls. The fact that emergencies often require access to cellphones is enough of a reason to be appreciative that the Knowlton area will soon have a much needed cellular communications tower to provide service to the area.

Good news that Knowlton is getting closer to "plugging in" as they begin this process of getting a new cellphone tower installed in the region as more and more, wireless technology and high-speed service are becoming essential to modern life and while there will certainly be some opposition to the placement of the tower there will likely be more people relieved that service has finally been extended to our region.

Public consultations are being held September 25th, 2006 at the Knowlton Legion at 7 pm regarding the installation of this cellular communications tower in the area. Spokespeople from communications companies, medical and scientific experts as well as Knowlton city officials are among those attending to discuss the project and answer concerns from citizens. All concerned should attend.

Some incredible disguises have turned towers into trees!Some cellular companies and municipalities have gone through great lengths to disguise the towers making them look like trees, although these disguised cell towers often stand out like a police officer at a picnic!

There are cell towers that look like enormous palm trees and some that look like incredibly huge pine trees and some cell phone towers are even dressed up as huge cactuses!

The wirelessadvisor.com website features an entire gallery of cellphone tower pictures and some disguises.

It will be interesting to see if we can come up with a disguise for our tower that best suits Knowlton!

Debate surrounds the installation of cell phone towers as many people feel property values can be affected if the large towers are erected near their properties and similar evaluations in other areas show between a 3% and 10% drop in property values close to the towers.

However, it should be noted that in rural areas, having such improved communications can become a factor in people deciding to live in a community which has a very positive impact. The same is likely in our area of Brome Lake.

The efforts that are put into hiding the large mobile phone towers are lampooned in this popular independant cartoon. Usage by our website is appreciated.With the aesthetic questions and the concerns of safety of the radio frequencies and "radiation" emitted by these communication towers it is sure to be an interesting debate but in the end the ability to have improved, reliable communication and access to emergency help will be a welcome addition to Knowlton's peace of mind. Having such consistant ability to maintain a signal should be considered the priority over all issues. Of course, it is natural that residents will be worried about being part of the group that proved cell phone towers give off radiation that causes health problems.

It is best to be informed on the realities of the issue before making up our minds. There is some pertinant reading that helps set the record straight that many people have with the myths and urban-legends about the dangers of cell phone towers on Mobile Phone (Cell Phone) Base Stations and Human Health on this website.

More helpful reading from the Federal Communication Commission Information On Human Exposure To Radiofrequency Fields From Cellular and PCS Radio Transmitters from the FCC information on the subject.

The reality is is that cellphones are an integral part of life now, and like it or not, it is crucial that we have un-interrupted access to a good signal, even heading down the shadey side of StageCoach Road!

Brome Lake Ducks Maintain Rugby Record
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Wet fields didn't slow down some great play by our hometown Ducks as they work their way towards a division championship!The Brome Lake Ducks maintained their perfect winning record and did a wet weather smackdown on the visiting Laval rugby club winning the match 17-7 in a physical and highly-charged battle at Lions Park in front of a good crowd of vocal fans.

Not only did the visiting Laval Nomads have to pitch their team tent on the far side of the wet field they had to come into Knowlton during periods of heavy rain and do battle against our powerful Brome Lake Ducks in an early morning Rugby match that proved again that our rugby club is a force to be reckoned with!

The Orange and Blue dominated the rough and tumble game and took and early lead over the Nomads leading 17-0 before the halftime whistle even blew. Things got a bit spicey on the field as can be expected but the lads maintained control and fought back against any chance the Noamds had against rising a comeback.

Ducks doing what they do best! Way to go mates!Due to the early start of the game and the very wet weather the crowds were a bit sparse but still very vocal as they shouted support for the well-played dummies and good solid tackling by the Brome Lake Ducks. It goes without saying that the early start affected the beer sales but still it was nice to see fans enjoying an ale on a rainy Knowlton day at 12 noon! Good on ya!

With the next game versus Montreal Barbarians being the last regular seaon rugby match for our Ducks we keep one eye to the Cup. The Ducks un-blemished record with 12 victories and no defeats this season, 5 of those wins being shutouts, is proof that the Ducks have a sure shot at winning their Quebec Rugby Division Championships to be held on October 14th.

The quarter-finals are September 23 and the semi-finals are September 30th. Watch for the Orange and Blue to perform some serious damage on any club that steps onto the turf!

The Brome Lake Ducks have photos, scores, links to Canadian Rugby resources and great team photos on their website: see it all and their rugby blog at ducksrugby.com.

Eastern Townships Challenge visits Knowlton
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Hundreds of cyclists gathered behind the church in Knowlton during the Eastern Townships Challenge.Cycling Clubs rode in one of the last events organized by the Velo Quebec (Quebec Cycling)Association, as the Eastern Townships Challenge, a popular un-timed rally of 75 to 150 km wound it's way through central Knowlton and the hundreds of registered cyclists stoppped for lunch in the schoolyard before getting back in the saddle and heading back on their way to the finish line.

The cool and rainy day might not have made for the ultimate tourist ride but the cyclists at the VolksWagon sponsored event who stopped under the church awnings during their lunch break were non-plussed by the rather torrential rains.

Most cyclists are well prepared for anything be it a flat tire or a sudden drop in blood sugar so with news that a cold front and rain were going to be part of the Challenge they obviousely prepared.

Cyclists are well-known for being able to ignore rain and snow in the persuit of a trip down an unknown bike trail or a high-speed sprint early in the morning. What many of us consider to be a strange obsession the avid cyclist finds to be a fundamental part of life.

The dedicated cyclists are beyond those of us who simple own a bike for fun. Yes we may have a touring bike that we occasionaly tie on to our bike-racks and head to the Green Route for a leisurely ride to the local snack-bar with our newest pair of peddle-pumpers but the cyclists in many Canadian Cycling Clubs can be downright obsessive about owning the best bicycles and newest bike clothing available.

The notoriety of such events as the Tour De France and the Landis doping scandal shine a grey cast on the sport but the reality of many small towns and regions in Quebec and throughout Canada is that friendly bike clubs are popular amongst enthusiasts who just want to get togetehr for week-end rides and special touring events with fellow like minding cyclists in the area. Cycling is a popular sport with singles and joining a riding club is a great way for sportive singles to meet other cycling singles. Who knows...it's a long and winding road...even on a 12-speed aluminum racer!!

Singles on cycles in the rain...what a great day in town!The organizers of the event in Knowlton did a great job! The signage downtown was clear and helpful for all residents and ensured there were no accidents and the sponsors and organizers did a fantastic job all around. If only the weather had been better we would have seen more folks lining the sidewalks cheering just like they do during the Tour de France.

If you ever wondered where to have a detailed listing of the Quebec Bike Trails and touring information then Velo Mag has recently published an amazing book for serious cyclists. The ultimate books for cyclists in the Eastern Townships includes trails and accomodations.

Velo Quebec was established in 1967 and has been promoting and advocating on behalf of cyclists for almost 40 years, working to make the province of Québec more bike-friendly including being the major influential force in ensuring the adoption of Quebec's first cycling policy, the paving of shoulders, the development and maintenance of the bicycle network and other positive initiatives. They are instrumental in working towards the expansion of the Route Vert or Green Road for cyclists in the province.

The Velo Quebec website has information on the local Cycling Clubs in the Eastern Townships including the Les Cyclones de Granby, La Grande Roue Magog-Orford, Club Velomanis and the Club Cycliste de Sherbrooke which are the closest active clubs to the Knowlton area. Serious cyclists or singles looking to meet other singles interested in outdoor activities will find their website crucial for details on events and members. Click here to visit the Velo Quebec Eastern Townships Cycling Clubs listed on their website.

Celebrating the Big Brome Fair
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The proud tradition of the Brome Fair is evident in the faces of the farmers who gather to celebrate their heritageSince 1856 the Brome Fair has been the principal event for farmers and residents of the Brome Lake area. Providing a showcase for animals, produce, arts and crafts and entertainers the Brome Fair is un-questionably the largest and most important agricultural fair to take place in the area.

Over 150 years, the fair has been witness to wars, depressions and incredible advances of technolgy and the rise and fall of many great Canadian leaders and cultural figures and is once again the meeting place for farmers, artists and craftspeople from throughout the Eastern Townships who want to gather together for one short week-end to share, enjoy and most of all to laugh together in this charming and historic fair.

After attending the 150th anniversary of the Big Brome Fair in Lac Brome over the long labour-day weekend it usually takes a few days of rest to get your equilibrium back! At the end of the Brome Fair most folks are usually plumped up with a combination of Wapiti Burgers and Fried Onions not to mention the Funnel Cakes! When you combine this with a few rounds of the rides on the Midway and a trip to the Petting Zoo and a Pony Ride with the kids it can lead to a case of veritable exhaustion!

Of course this year was something extra special with the inauguration of a beer gardens which didn't hurt since we did have a bit of rain on the weekend but it will take more than the leftovers of Hurricane Ernesto to dampen the spirits of the Brome Fair!

With weather forecasts predicting that Saturday would be the best day for the fair it was only natural to see a huge crowd enter the fair grounds on Saturday. Actually the Saturday attendance records were reported to be the highest ever for a single day at the fair in the 150 year history of the fair!

Saturday was indeed a perfect day! Sunny and warm with a light breeze and blue skies....how could anyone ask for more! The midway was packed, the stage in front of the main building saw packed stands as the entertainment was absolutely fantastic...music and magic from across Canada turned the grassy area beside the midway into such a happy place it was simply glorious!

Emerson Drive takes the stage and turns the crowd inside-out! A fantastic show!The main grandstand on Saturday night featured the band Emerson Drive which as any country music fan will tell you is one of the more vibrant country bands on the scene today and having them at the Brome Fair this year was such a great experience! It was hard to believe that just a few hours before the Emerson Drive concert at the main grandstand that there had been horse shows and animals parading because by 8:30 the field in front of the grandstand was literally packed with screaming fans! It was hard to believe this was the Brome Fair as it looked more like a huge Nashville show! The screaming fans were a testament to the music and the ambience of the fair!

Well Sunday proved that those WeatherNetwork folks were not just yapping because the rain started falling and it came down very hard at times! The fair grounds were alot quieter than the day before but still visitors and families came onto the site...although it was surprising to see the number of people who seemed un-prepared for the oncoming rains who entered the grounds without rain-gear...if a vendor had sold a combination of umbrellas and hotdogs they could have made a million!

The Cloggers and Square Dancers made it clear that no foul weather would spoil the show!Rain doesn't mean a thing to the folks who have prepared for the fair for the last year and the fact that Knowlton Band played to practically empty seats showed the dedication and spirit of the fair. Even though the stands may have been vacant the sound of the band playing their fine interpretaions of popular standrads meant much to those hearty souls who walked the soggy grounds and were content to take in the moment! Who can forget the integity and perserverence of the cloggers or the fantastic musical acts who tossed the bad weather to the devil!

Wayne Rostad, well-known from his hit CBC program "On the Road Again" was the main event on Sunday night and while the weather really made a dent in the size of the crowd who dared venture out to the fair those who attended were given a class act by a true class Canadian entertianer. In fact, Wayne appeared in 1987 at the Brome Fair and this was a big homecoming for him!

Monday, with the grey skies and wetness, saw yet anoher example of the Brome spirit as people descended on the site in spite of the weather. Again the midway, food, crafts and animals were the highlight but you could aslo tell by the gleam in many folks eyes that the grandstand truck and motorcycle daredevil show was what most anticipated. While many found the final show to be a bit of a let-down it was most likely due to a few technical difficulties that were beyond the lords of the fair...
but if we look back at the last few years of the fair the truck pull that has been the main attraction in previous years was hard to beat! Hopefully the organizing committee will bring back something more user-friendly as a good ole fashioned truck pull!

The organizing committee of the Brome Fair did a great job and deserve a solid round of applause for all the hard work! Thank-you! In honour of the 150th Brome Fair we are preparing a photo montage of some of the incredible moments we all had this year at the fair and as soon as we've completed the page of brome fair pictures we will give the link here.

Fire Department To Get New Fire Trucks
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Knowlton will soon have new fire trucks perhaps looking like this new truck recently delivered to a fire department in Vermont. A new fire truck is a sign of pride for a town and especially a sign of appreciation for the men and women who risk their lives for the public safety of the citizens.The town's plans to put out a tender for the supply of three brand new fire trucks for Lac Brome is indeed good news for residents who are in the area protected by the Knowlton Fire Department.

As is the case with other fire departments, many of which are notoriousely strapped for funding, the fire trucks in many Quebec departments are averaging over 20 years of service. Improvements to efficiency and driver safety have been made and it is in the best interest of the safety of our brave fire fighters that they be equipped with the most modern technology.

One is reminded of a soldier risking life and limb entering a battle, it is critical that the soldier have the best equipment available.

With Knowlton experiencing such rapid growth there are always concerns with public safety, as there is in any rural area that depends on large network of dedicated volunteer emergency and rescue personel.

In August the fire department answered seven fire alarms, responded to 12 minor interventions and had to assist in one rescue. So far in 2006 there have been 56 responses by the fire department to fire alarms.

With more people living and commuting on the roads of the Lac Brome area it is crucial that emergency crews can respond quickly to fire alarms and then have the best equiptment available to tackle the fire. During peak tourist seasons the roads can be quite congested with motorbikes and visitors seeing the sights of the region. New and improved fire trucks would keep the fire fighters much safer and would be able to respond quicker to emergencies.

Surely the three new trucks would better suit a brand new fire hall? The current Knowlton fire hall is in a bit of an awkward position. There is often traffic at the intersection of Lakeside and Knowlton road making responding to alarms perhaps not as easy as if the fire hall was located closer to a more central "hub" or perhaps just on a wider roadway not so close to an extremely narrow and often crowded four way stop.

Regardless, the fact that the town wants to invest in the future safety by purchasing new fire trucks is an excellent step forward and a sure sign that the growth of Knowlton is assured!

Buying fire trucks is not like going to a car lot and picking out the latest off-the-shelf model and the act of going to tender is likely only a long process of procurement since each fire department who purchases a truck has different needs and the manufacturers of the fire fighting technology offer a wide array of custom features to meet the needs of any fire department. To see some of the lovely new trucks that are being built in the quest for public safety it is interesting to visit the website of Pierce Manufacturing, a large and renowned supplier of fire trucks. Most interesting is perhaps the new safety innovations that are being used in modern fire trucks.

Once again, congratulations to all the fire fighters of Lac Brome, you deserve it!

Speed Limits Don't Match Road Reality
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The posted speed limit on Frizzle Road is too fast Some of the worst roads in the region have the highest speed limits while some of the best, most recently paved, straight routes have such slow speed-limits that it seems the highway department installed speed limit signs in the area based on the Richter Scale rating of the road!

Take Lakeside for example. After turning off of Highway 10 at Exit 90 towards Knowlton many people have found themselves being pulled-over for breaking the posted speed limit but this isn't really much of a surprise since the only way to keep under the speed limit on Lakeside is to keep one foot on the brake!

For some reason the speed limit on this smooth, wide, well marked stretch of road leading into Knowlton has a maximum speed limit of 50 kilometers per hour. Granted, there are some areas with many closely spaced lakeside properties that warrant such a slow speed due to the telephone posts planted in the curbs, but much of the road is so straight and that if you do respect the speed limit you will likely find at least a half-dozen cars riding your tail!

What doesn't seem to make sense is that on the extremely poor, winding and dangerous Frizzle Road, the posted speed limit is 80 km/h and the rough state of the road makes it almost impossible to even attain that speed since there are such twists and turns in the road not to mention the blind driveways with tractors and farm machinerey often turning onto the road as well as hills and blind corners!

Trying to drive this route at 80 km/h seems excessive while trying to drive Lakeside at 50 km/h seems ridiculous.

Frizzle has almost no dividing lines visible and the potholes are worthy of a Montreal suburb's streets during a blue collar workers strike yet Lakeside is freshly paved and has new bright lines on it but we are forced to crawl along Lakeside at an achingly slow pace or risk a ticket.

The traffic in Knowlton village itself seems to be an arbitrary decision as trucks and visiting traffic comes barrelling East on the 104 rarely acknowledging that a town with pedestrians even exists and what about the cars that roar up Victoria oblivious of the daycare as if the road was a time-trials race-course.

The school on Knowlton Road, while it has posted limits of 30 km/h, is lucky if traffic speeds dip below 50. Thank-goodness city hall put up some new stop signs in town to reduce the maximum speeds that were previousely possible but where is the law enforcement?

Police presence to enforce traffic speeds is noticeably absent from the village of Brome Lake and instead seems to prefer to hover on Lakeside where it is almost impossible for drivers to maintain such a ridiculously low speed-limit and thus makes it easier for the police to give tickets. The traffic police seem to ignore the downtown area where everyday there are large trucks breaking the speed limit and residents who take advantage of some straight stretches of roadway in Knowlton to test the limits of their vehicles by exceeding safe speeds.

If the local transport department could analyze the traffic and road conditions properly and then apply an appropriate speed limit to these sections of road then it would avoid un-neccesary accidents...not to mention speeding tickets that are perhaps un-deserved.

New Benches Installed Beside Pettes Library
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The romance of a quiet park bench is now a reality as Knowlton installed several brand-new public benches. Adding lovely benches to the small park area beside the Pettes Library is such a good idea it's a wonder it hadn't been done sooner!

There had been some available public seating there before but it was never enough and you could often see visitors looking about for a nice place to sit under a tree and have a wee rest.

The new benches have loveley cobbelstone walkways leading to them and really make ideal use of the green space. The landscaping was spruced up and now the shade of the handsome trees can really be enjoyed. They are in the perfect spot with all the shops and boutiques nearby they will surely become a popular meeting and resting area for visitors.

Public seating is hard to find in almost any small town and it is much welcomed to see some good quality benches being installed instead of something of lower quality. It will also be nice not to be forced to go onto a terrasse of a restaurant or pub for a "sit-down" since most outdoor seating decks are now filled with smokers.

Benches in the center of Lac Brome is a great move and a very positive initiative for the future of Lac Brome! Bravo!

Uniprix Ready For Expansion...Next Up: Tim Horton!
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The old IGA building, a current desolate parking lot and empty building, will need some major renovations to come up to par but it will be worth it as Knowlton is poised to make a major play! Persistant rumours that questioned the identity of the new occupants of the vacant building on Knowlton Street where the IGA used to stand seem to have been put to an end.

It appears that the downtown pharmacy, Uniprix, will renovate the old IGA building in order to expand and meet the needs of the growing population of the region.

Uniprix, the only pharmacy and also a popular variety store in downtown Lac Brome, seems to be now a bit too cramped for the daily traffic they recieve.

If the Uniprix are going to renovate and enlarge their square-footage then it will be a big plus for shoppers! We've walked towards the cold remedies aisle many times and had to do a side-step-soft-shoe to avoid bumping another customer due to the restricted area to move.

Uniprix is one of the largest independant pharmacies, employing over 4000 people in Quebec, and have operated for close to 30 years. They are avid supporters of local athletes and health programs and contribute funds regularly to local charities.

The fact that an established business such as Uniprix sees the potential to grow, and is willing to take the risk in expansion, in a village like Knowlton, says much for the courage of the business and also underlines the potential that our area offers.

The old IGA, with some ceiling and floor work, would be much larger than the existing pharmacy and the location is indeed prime real estate now that the new IGA is up and running and proving to be a big hit with locals and visitors.

That whole area on Highway 104, also known as Knowlton Road, is looking like it holds the potential for Knowlton's future! There is some great commercial space available in the area and the parking is already there so it doesn't take any imagination to picture a Tim Horton's in Knowlton, Lac Brome!

Ohhhh.Wouldn't we love a Timmy Horton in Knowlton!! The closest Tim Horton's is in Cowansville and there is always a line-up practically out the door! A Timmy's in Knowlton would be great...certainly better than the coffee that is available at Chez Guy's or the Depanneur Rouge and there is a need for an inexpensive yet somewhat healthy place to eat in Knowlton.

The Tim Horton chain seems to offer a decent and consistant meal selection which would have an easy time against the "hit-and-miss" nature of many of the Knowlton restaurants. The fact that a drive through coffee counter is needed in the village goes without saying.

The cost of commercial land in Knowlton is at a premium because there is not much of quality space that could be useful for large chains or franchises. There are some commercial lots for sale near the new IGA and future Uniprix that are potential goldmines for the right tenant but Knowlton is a special place and hopefully the landowners who are willing to sell will have established ideals as to what is deemed acceptable on their properties since many local land and property owners are merely part-time residents and have no real stake in the Brome Lake community beyond a financial interest.

Companies like the IGA and Uniprix do not invest without first having calculating the risk. By accepting the risk and investing in Knowlton they establish a foundation from which other businesses can grow upon and if the City Hall of Knowlton can perhaps shake itself out of the small town mentality and attempt to construct a municipal vision for Knowlton then there can be innovation and expansion that will benefit everyone.

The new Knowlton Uniprix is scheduled to open in the spring of 2007.

Duck Festival - Canard en Fete | Good Samaritan Rescues Dog From Attack | Maybe Drivers Should Go Back To School | Technically Teknika is Taking Too Long | Three Knowlton Businesses Reach Finals | Finally! 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Cell Tower To Be Built | Brome Lake Ducks Maintain Rugby Record | Eastern Townships Challenge visits Knowlton | Knowlton Landmark Hotel Wins Award | "Raccoon Cookies" Fight Rabies Outbreak | Dangerous Cyanobacteria Closes Brome Lake | Quaint Village or Monster Truck Show? | Taking Aim At The Mayor | New Cobblestone Crosswalks | Knowlton Residents Upset With State of Mill Pond | Canada Day In Knowlton | RCMP Musical Ride Thrills Townshippers | Running the Tour Du Lac Brome | Public Market Opens In Knowlton | New IGA for Knowlton | David Suzuki Visits Knowlton | Rain Swells Cold Brook | Fessenden: Knowlton's Unsung Hero | Shawn Phillips Visits Knowlton | The Sounds Of Spring in Knowlton | Fire Department To Get New Fire Trucks | Speed Limits Don't Match Road Reality | New Benches Installed Beside Pettes Library | Uniprix Ready For Expansion...Next Up: Tim Horton! | Knowlton Business Faces Fine for Illegal Sign | Knowlton Gas Station Says Buh-Bye! | SPCA Adoptions Raise the "Woof" | Changing the Victorian Landscape of Knowlton | Celebrating a Hollywood Hero from Knowlton | No High-Speed Internet Upsets Knowlton | Bilingual Means "Anything But English" in Brome? | Welcome to Knowlton, Knowlton | Police Plan More Patrols For Knowlton | Knowlton Sculptor Immortalizes Hockey | Don Davison Book Launch In Knowlton | CBC's Bill Richardson in Knowlton | Painters of the Eastern Townships | Quoi de Neuf - What's New in Knowlton! | Meet The Candidates - Election | Brome Duck Festival Gets Quackin' | The Beatles Coming to Knowton | Tour Des Arts Celebrates | Property For Sale In Knowlton | World Class Concerts Coming To Knowlton | June Garden Event Shows Townships Beauty | Tunde Odunlade in Knowlton | Knowlton Going To The Dogs...Again! | Garage Sale Bylaw Rains On Yard Sales | So Our Trees Are Becoming A Nuisance? | Country Chic Fashion Show | June Garden Event Shows Townships Beauty | World Class Concerts Coming To Knowlton | Knowlton Tree rivals Rockefeller Plaza | Lac Brome Rentals Signal Growth | Knowlton en Lumiere: A bright idea! | Remembrance Day in Knowlton | Charge of the Light Brigade | Halloween in Knowlton | Floating Islands put Knowlton in Spotlight | Gerald Swann: featured painter | Brome Fair Feedback is Not All Good | Brome Lake to be Sold For Biofuel | Chickasaw and The Raid From Hell | Cyclist Doping Scandal Harms Locals | Good Samaritan Saves Man From Dog Attack | Who Turned Out The Lights | SAQré bleu! Knowlton gets a new liquor store! | Paul Martin Trades Trees For Tees | A Time to Reflect on Life | Winter Storm Hits Eastern Townships We have the worst drivers | New Cellphone Tower in Knowlton Apple Blossom Time | Citizens Angry at Lack of Bilingual Signs | Festival of Lights | Brome Taxes Through The Roof