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

Charge of the Light Brigade
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The crews gathered early to set up the Christmas Lights!Saturday morning in downtown Knowlton was a bustle of activity as over two dozen volunteers converged at the Pettes Library to begin stringing new Christmas lights for the Festival of Lights, also called Winter Lights of Knowlton, coming in December.

The Brome Fire Department was on-hand climbing ladders and stringing lights along with members of the Chamber of Commerce and proud residents who make it their duty to keep Knowlton vibrant in appearance and in spirit.

A truckload of new, energy efficient LED Christmas lights was unloaded at the corner of Lakeside and the volunteers spread out around town with long grappling poles getting the lights up into as many trees as possible. The morning weather was mild and children gathered to watch the action. A pile of lights that looks like the string of Christmas lights you have in your basement!!

The whole process seemed to go rather well with the hardworking group finishing the entire load of lights in no time. Certainly it has taken many of us longer to un-tangle our own Christmas lights that are always in a tangled pile in the basement!

The light string teams worked well as teams: some pulled down the old lights, some opened and tested the new lights, some held the ladders as the firefighters reached to their arms lengths to position the light strands just perfectly!

Now we have determined how many Knowltoners it takes to screw in a light bulb!

The Christmas lights are a big tradition in Lac Brome as the streets and storefront are decorated for the Winter Festival which runs throughout the month of December. The Mill Pond Park will be equipped with a skating rink and many local restaurants and businesses have specials for the tourists who come to enjoy the Eastern Townships in winter as the area turns into something out of a Christmas card, an idyllic place for families to spend time together in celebration.

It was great to see so many people giving of their time to get the town ready for Christmas! Way to go!

Halloween in Knowlton
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Knowlton Halloweens are special due to the incredible efforts of the residents, parents and children who join together in creating wonderful decorations and costumes to turn the Eastern Townships Halloween into one of the best family events of the year.

Decorations started appearing after the fall Duck Festival as carved pumpkins began being spotted amongst the storefront decorations signifying that soon the great gathering of goodies would be taking place. The end of October is often a time of un-certain weather in Eastern Quebec so we're all used to expecting something strange for Hallowe'en. This past weekend saw, among other things: storming gusting winds that knocked down trees and actually cut power to many folks in the area, snow drifting and blowing that made us wonder if snow-tires should have been installed in August, and a falling back of the hour making the evenings even darker for us! You'd think that with such hardhsips there would be no time for Halloween?

Lac Brome is well-known for it's ability to turn a holiday into something beyond the ordinary and this Halloween was no exception. While the weekend snow turned to rain for Halloween the streets were still flooded with costumed youngsters and their parents wielding large umbrellas who were determined to maintain the Knowlton tradition of making Halloween something special.

The Brome Fire Department were positioned on Knowlton Road and Victoria to distribute candies to the children and there was a steady stream of kids heading across the rain-speckled streets to the firefighters dressed in their full firefighting gear. The eyes of the kids were wider than a glowing pumpkins as the firefighters bent down from their trucks and dropped a wee sweet into thier bags!

Throughout Lac Brome the flashing lights of the firetrucks invited the kids for candies and their presence was much appreciated. The rain glistening off of their bright rotating lights created the perfect atmosphere and as parents escorted their children around town for the candy pick-up they spotted the local firefighters proudly representing our community! Good for you all!

So many homes and businesses give 100 percent in the preparation and decoration of their homes and stores for this one night of fun, it is a Lac Brome tradition that has gone on for years, and it is always so greatly appreciated especially by the children. Who among us cannot recall coming home after a night of Trick or Treating to count the chocolates, gums, licorices and suckers with a trembling anticipation. The same excitement was visible in the eyes off the disguised children tonight!

Despite the steady rain the fun started early as the shortened daylight gave way to spookiness around 5pm and candy-hunting kids were spotted running from house to house in Lac Brome.

The most popular area for spooky trick-or-treating in Knowlton during Halloween is on Benoit and Landsdowne street off of Victoria. Of course, homes in all regions set up dramatic and intricate displays featuring spiders, ghosts and black cats there is something special about the area heading down to the Knowton Marina on Halloween that turns it into something that looks like a cross between Close Encounters of the Third Kind and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.

Every year the residents along this cozy neighbourhood stretch really outdo themselves with creating some of the most memorable and frightening exhibits imaginable. Every year is different along this stretch of road and it is always magical for the kids! There are often haunted houses set up in front yards and scary surprises like headless ghouls popping up from lawn chairs to scare the jeepers out of us!

Folks along this stretch have built pirate ships, cemeteries and entire scenes of grouesome bloodiness that have left children squeeling with delight as they stuff their pillow cases with candies! The Knowlton Marina has always been one of the best loved Halloween stops for the kids...the lights reflecting off of Brome Lake and glorious lighting around the wooden marina are the scene for either flying bats and headles sailors or monstrous characters who climb from the waters of the lake to scare or spray the crowds who gather at the boat launch!

As the pools of dark water danced with the rain drops the kids, disguised as hockey players, vampires, lions and princesses strolled between houses accepting bonbons from the witches, ghouls and magicians who had prepared so long for this one event.

The efforts of so many residents who prepare for so long in advance is abvious and again we had a fantastic night for the kids of Knowlton! There were so many carved pumkins, custom made decorations and displays, creepy entrances and eerie music that even as a grown up it was unbelievable!

Many thanks to everyone around the village who took the time to create another special moment for our children...this was such a fun night!What a great night we had...thanks to everyone!

Floating Islands put Knowlton in Spotlight
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President of Lac Brome company CanadianPond.ca Products Ltd, Mario Paris, makes an appearance in Montana after being the only Canadian company invited to the meeting of business leaders concerned with water quality solutionsWhile the "Renaissance Lac Brome" meeting attracted 300 people in Knowlton on October 14th, to discuss the state of the lake, one Lac Brome resident was in Montana at a research and development site learning about cutting edge technologies for dealing with the very water-quality issues that are affecting the Lac Brome region.

Mario Paris, president of"CanadianPond.ca Products Limited", located in Lac Brome, received an invitation from Bruce Kania, renowned inventor, researcher and environmentalist, to visit his Montana research facility to learn more about his newly patented "floating island" system for aquatic restoration.

Bruce Kania is making waves around the world with his artificial floating islands that become living filters for lakes and remove elements like ammonia, phosphorous and other unwanted materials that can lead to algae blooms and other unhealthy lake conditions. The Montana seminar brought 12 of some of the most enthusiastic business people in the aquatics field from all over North America to attend a hands-on information workshop on restoring lakes through the use of the innovative new system. Mr. Paris's firm was the only Canadian business invited to the meeting.

Floating Islands make a front page splash as Produits Etang.ca pushes to the forefront of environmental studies in the Eastern Townships!During the session the invitees took part in educational sessions that presented the latest data on the cleaning effects of floating islands as well as launching of several large floating islands at the research facility. The floating islands are being employed in pilot projects in cities like Chicago to deal with water quality issues and there are also several ongoing studies by American Universities and independent firms in the US and New Zealand to fully qualify the potential of the islands to help with problems such as blue-green algae and cyanobacteria.

Friday saw the news of the Lac Brome company making front page headlines on the Voix de L'est newspaper and on Saturday Radio-Canada aired a news report on their National television network about the floating islands and the small Knowlton company, the only authorized dealer of the islands in Canada.

Floating islands are a newly patented technology that uses recycled materials to create a special buoyant "matrix" that plants can grow in. The island material becomes a habitat for beneficial, water-cleansing bacteria. The roots of the plants also combine to add a natural filtration to the water. The islands also provide habitat for birds and shelter for fish making them a truly ecological solution. According to recent findings, a single 250 square foot island can offer as much restorative benefits as an acre of constructed wetlands.

These floating island "breakthroughs" are allowing municipalities around North America to address water quality problems at a fraction of the cost associated with building traditional wetlands. Who knows, perhaps one day Lac Brome or Lac Waterloo will have some floating islands to help clean up the lake water!

For more information use the search box or visit the websites at www.canadianpond.ca or www.floatingislandinternational.com

Gerald Swann: featured painter
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Rich colors and historical visions make this exposition one of the most intriguing shows in the Eastern Townships in years!The tradition of Hallowe’en, with its costume balls and trick-or-treating adding to the fun for the young and not-so-young, has captured the imagination of Galerie Knowlton.

To wit, Francoise Desjardins, the Galerie owner asked for the help of one of her artists, Gerald Swann to dress the Galerie in proper Hallowee'n attire. Now, two huge paintings, 4' by 6', almost entirely fill the Gallery's two not-so-small front windows. Street scenes with public entertainers, drum players and others, surrounded by idlers and observed by neighborhood dogs, embellished by magnificent clothes in an eighteenth century décor offer an a glimpse into another world, both historical and imaginary.

Gerald Swann's works have been exhibited at the Knowlton Gallery since its opening in May 2004. Mme. Desjardins remembers her astonishment upon first seeing Swann's work, " I was taken by the incredible precision on these paintings on wood, the imagination and a technique that is worthy of the great Dutch Masters.

Gerald Swann was born in Paris on Ile de la Cite in 1925. He spent his youth on La Butte Montmartre with his grandfather, who was a close friend and patron of some of Europe’s major painters and writers of the time, such as Modigliani and Utrillo. The older Swann was also a friend of Marcel Proust and it was he who allowed Proust the use of the family name for "Swann’s Way"
It was in this rich artistic environment that the younger Swann grew up.

When World War II broke out, Gerald Swann served with the Free French Air Force out of London and then spent a part of his service in Germany. At the end of the war, he entered the "Cours Supérieur de peinture" of the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Upon his return to England, he attended St. Martins School of Art and the Central School of Art.

Over the years, Swann has painted portraits, murals and still life as well as producing artwork for advertising. He specialized in large equestrian portraits and military themes, the type of paintings that traditionally hang in the stately homes of England. He was also the resident portrait painter for Harrods and Portraits Inc. of Duke Street, London.

Upon his arrival in Canada in 1965, Swann went on to create many award winning advertising campaigns. He also, however, continued producing portraits, still life and decorative panels, exclusively for European patrons.

In recent years, there has been an increasing demand for classical realism and Gerald Swann is again exhibiting his work in selected galleries in Montreal and Toronto.

It is with great pride that the Knowlton Gallery now presents the paintings of such an international artist who has chosen to retire, and live in the Eastern Townships. But as Francoise Desjardins can attest, one just has to see the Galerie Knowlton windows to know that Gerald Swann hasn’t retired yet.

The Knowlton Gallery is situated at 285, Knowlton Road, Lac Brome. For more information: (450) 242-1666.

Renaissance Lac Brome Meeting
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Even though the meeting to discuss the ever-growing problems of water quality and blue-green algae in Brome Lake was held at a downright un-Godly hour on a Saturday morning , around 300 residents of the Lac Brome area made it a point to show up and express their concerns.

The meeting was organized to present and discuss the collaborative efforts made by Renaissance Lac Brome, the Town of Lac Brome, the Ministry of the Environment, the University of Sherbrooke and of course the citizens regarding the well being of Brome Lake and its watershed in relationship to other Eastern Townships waterways affected with water-quality problems.

As with many issues relating to health and the environment the invited panel made it clear that each and every resident must take responsibility for the health of the lake!

Brome Lake town councilor Larry Fairholm told the crowd that it all "starts at home. Stop using phosphorus detergents and soaps, replant your shorelines. Don't use chemical or organic fertilizers or pesticides, period."

Perhaps some good advice but surely there must be more phosphorus laden detergents coming out of a cosmetics bottling plant like Les Emballages Knowlton and more organic fertilizer (also known as duck shit) being dumped in the watershed by the Brome Lake Duck Farm then by the average family of four living on St. Paul street?

Take a look at the lakefront properties on Brome Lake and what do we see? There are many large areas where shoreline vegetation has been razed in favor of manicured lawns and foreign flowers and plants. Perfectly trimmed and lush greens of three golf-courses surround Lac Brome and while there may be some laws in place from the Ministry of the Environment to restrict the usage of fertilizers many of these laws have no teeth…akin to enforcing an Olympic anti-doping law.

One aspect of human nature is that we demand our freedom! To a certain extent…we want to be free to do as we please.

We all want to be free from lung-cancer but if the Government raises the cost of cigarettes then smokers complain and if they ban smoking in public places then business owners complain and if they ban cigarettes completely then the manufacturers complain and layoff hundreds of people. So the government tries to keep all side happy saying: buy the cigarettes but don't smoke in public and your cigarette packs have ugly demonstrative images of sick lungs printed as warnings.

We want to be free of polluted lakes but we all want to be able to have an SUV and a have a lovely lawn and be able to fly to Florida for the winter and commute to Montreal so we can live in Knowlton and when all this massive consumption of petroleum and natural resources starts to cause climactic changes in the planet we want to yell at the Government and say "Do something about it!"

Whatever solution that the Government suggests to dealing with the problems of water quality and blue-green algae or cyanobacteria in the Eastern Townships; whether it be on a local, provincial or national level of Government we will always say it's either not enough or too much.

These are not motorboats...but they may stir up the sediment...should we ban people?Every environmental problem on our planet takes years and years before the experts can even agree that it is a problem and in this case, as with every environmental issue, there is no quick fix to a problem that has been growing for generations. Brome Lake was facing closures as early as 1968 due to blue-green algae so it is not a new phenomenon. Neither does the phenomenon of elected officials wanting to perform drawn-out studies and bring in experts who may oversimplify issues in order to satisfy mandates.

While the Brome Lake Council’s wish to hire someone to be full-time environmental inspector for the lake was greeted with favour some thought the idea to be like "hiring someone to stand outside the Knowlton Pub and insisting the drunks drive safely!"

Is someone who has a multi-million dollar water-front estate on Lac Brome, who pays large amounts of municipal taxes, going to allow a local “inspector” dictate structural changes to their property? Will multi-million dollar businesses in Knowlton like L.E.K and the Duck Farm who employ hundreds of people in the area and who pay large tax dollars to the town be keen on suddenly treating their waste more efficiently to help reduce the influx of harmful nutrients in the lake?

The answer should be yes!

But it’s not only about the big business and land owners. We all have a role to play and it’s up to us, individuals (rich and poor) and businesses to make the changes. When the Blue Bins for recycling were introduced recently in Knowlton some people were actually against them saying they "didn’t want to pay extra taxes for recycling!" My goodness …this is the sort of attitude that creates problems in our lakes!

Imagine if someone dared step forward and said: "There are large private properties within the Brome Lake watershed whose runoff flows into Lac Brome and many of these properties have lawns that are as manicured as any golf course and some of these are "gentleman farmers" who have horses and other livestock on their "estates" and perhaps who may not be concerned with assuring that best management practices are being adhered to."

The facts are: the major cause of point source phosphorus into Brome Lake is runoff from private properties. Sure, we can blame the Duck Farm or the golf courses surrounding the lake, but these large corporations have certain criteria they must follow unlike wealthy landowners living close to Brome Lake who can, without penalty or retribution, allow manure to pile up beside a stream that feeds directly into the lake with no threat of penalty.

According to research done by the group who organized the meeting, "Renaissance Lac Brome", about 2,000 kilograms of phosphorus go into Brome Lake annually. The surface area of Brome Lake is around 14.5 square kilometres so every year there is nearly 138 kg of phosphorus flushing into the lake. Where does this come from?

People add excessive amounts of nutrients (primarily phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) that end up in our lakes in various ways which is why understand a watersheds relationship to Brome Lake is important. Runoff from agricultural fields, waterfront lawns, and golf courses is one source of these nutrients. Untreated, or partially-treated, industrial and domestic sewage is another source. Detergents also contain which act as water softeners to improve cleaning action. These are all powerful stimulants to algal growth when they are washed into lakes. Because of the dense development around the lake most of the natural, filtering vegetation around the lake has been destroyed allowing nutrient rich runoffs to flush freely into the lake.

The sediment at the bottom of the lake, called the “Monster” by the group organizing the meeting in Knowlton, creates more algae blooms when it is stirred up. This thinking helped lead the council to call for limiting boats on the lake since they stirred up the lake. There were some raised eyebrows from the crowd because, despite all the documented literature on the subject of restoration of lakes, eliminating boats was the one concrete measure that had been agreed upon.

Saying the problem stems from sediments is somewhat of an over-simplification of the process but even so studies have shown that even such rudimentary solutions such as aeration and bottom-sediment sealing with proper compounds can, in some cases, help reverse such signs of eutrophication that lead to blue-green algae.

A buffer zone of riparian plants can help filter out the excess phosphorus from lakeside properties before it enters the water. Streams and tributaries leading into the lake should be planted accordingly to filter out unwanted nutrients. Other programs should address the problem of reducing phosphorus runoff from lawns and roads in developed areas. On an acre per acre basis, developed land contributes about 3.5 times as much phosphorus to the Lake as agricultural land.

The key will be to limit what goes into the lake by establish and enforcing tougher guidelines for waste treatment and agricultural practices. Riparian zones, a margin of vegetation which includes trees, shrubs, and grasses extending from the waterline of rivers and streams, must be maintained around the lake.

It must also be realized that human activity is the source of many negative environmental changes on a worldwide scale. Global warming along with ocean and air pollution is directly linked to increasing populations and industrial developments of civilization. Perhaps these environmental catastrophes are a natural progression of a sickening planet. We're all upset with the thought of global warming and the greenhouse effect changing our climate for the worse but at the same time we want to drive as many big cars as we want, fly south on vacations, play golf on lovely greens and eat meat grown on deforested lands without limitations.

Maybe our way of life is the problem? If so; what are we, as a society, willing to sacrifice…

What Can We Do With Lac Brome?
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Just heat and serve? Yuck! Something needs to be done!Can anything be done to help our Lac Brome?

A meeting will be held on Saturday, October 14th at 10;00 a.m. at the OddFellows Hall on Knowlton Road for anyone concerned with the state of Brome Lake. The meeting is being organized by Renaissance Lac Brome.

The closure of Brome lake due to cyanobacteria on August 17th of this year caused much concern amongst residents who were saddened to see the jewel of their region become actually dangerous, necessitating the closure of the beaches and the lake to public use. Environment officials sent urgent health notices to warn residents of the blue-green algae in the lake which could be toxic to people and animals.

The meeting is being organized by a group known as "Renaissance Lac Brome" which is a group of citizens concerned with the recent deteriorating of the quality of Brome Lake. The group was founded by Jacques Duranceau,a doctor from Montreal who has been a part-time resident of the Lac Brome area for over 20 years. He started the group after the year 2000 when he noticed that a dark green color had invaded Lac Brome for an almost permanent duration from June to October. Over the years there have been more and more people becoming involved in the campaign to stop the degradation of water quality in the lake. With the closing of the lake again this year it again appears the right time to form a plan of action to keep the lake from becoming a bowl of unusable wastewater.

The town of Brome Lake recently pledged to spend $2000 to share the costs of a study of the problem. Many residents consider such a pittance being spent on a mere study to be little more than political heel-dragging. Studies from the Ministry of the Environment dating back to 2001 have outlined concrete steps to deal with the issue of Brome Lake water quality yet many of the points listed in the report seem to have been ignored.

At the last council meeting when residents asked what was being done about the lake quality the elected council had to admit that they were powerless to implement many of the strategies that could make the biggest difference on the lake.

Will Brome Lake become something that looks like a science fiction movie?Golf-courses often use fertilizers on their green spaces to ensure a thick growth of uniform grass and such products often end up washed into streams that drain into lakes. The local golf courses are under no obligation to restrict their usage of fertilizers or chemicals on their properties unlike private citizens who must follow bylaws regulating such applications.

The Brome Lake Duck Farm which processes millions of birds per year regularly spreads a slurry of duck manure over the fields adjacent to the farm. Rains will have the tendency to wash runoff from these fields directly into streams that feed into Brome Lake. The contents of this, and other agricultural manure, can wreak havoc on a lake or pond if it gets into the body of water. The Duck Farm also releases large amounts of waste water that finds it's way into the lake. By councils own admission there is nothing they can do to restrict or enforce laws that may curb such discharges.

Another large corporate entity that discharges waste that most likely finds it's way into Brome lake is Emballage Knowlton. While they may have treatment systems on-site to improve the effluent composition to perhaps acceptable "norms" the Ministry of the Environment may not have the capacity to understand the cumulative impact of years of such material being washed into the lake.

With an ever increasing population base action must be taken among all private and public bodies. We can't rely on one single group to take care of the problem.

Hopefully such meetings will lead to more than just finger-pointing and emotional arguements. At the same time, spending on money on study after study is paramount to doing nothing given the wealth of information available today on aquatic remediation.

Related Pages on Solving Common Problems in Lakes: The Guide to Lake Protection and Management is a second edition of the Citizen's Guide to Lake Protection. This document contains updated and new material on the following topics: chemistry of lakes, watershed information, exotic species, altering runoff and lake use practices, development of a lake management plan, and nonstructural best management practices.

A Perfect Thanksgiving Weekend
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The Pumpkin Carving Event sponsored by the Brome Lake Chamber of Commerce was held on Saturday. The park was full of families and kids carving some spooky and funny pumpkins.The Pumpkin Carving Event sponsored by the Brome Lake Chamber of Commerce was held on Saturday. The park was full of families and kids carving some spooky and funny pumpkins.

This thanksgiving weekend has been arguably some of the best weather we've seen lately. The traffic coming from Montreal was heavy and throughout the week-end the corner stop at Knowlton Road and Lakeside was a steady ballet of pedestrians and cars passing through the village center. The lovely weather put everyone in a good mood and despite the slow pace of traffic through downtown was almost welcome as people shopped and chatted and enjoyed the brilliant colors.

When we are blessed with a long weekend and warm temperatures with bright sunshine we can be extra contented. The colors on the leaves are at their best and the streets of Knowlton were literally packed with visitors enjoying what will likely be the nicest long week-end of the year.

A horse feeding on sunny autumn long-weekend near KnowltonThe animal creatures of the area also enjoyed the mild weather and everywhere you looked you could see happy horses, playful dogs and cats and many other of our barnyard friends showing signs of joy to the world.

Beautiful Autumn days remind us of the precious changes that occur in life in that they signify the end of our summer which is somewhat like the end of youth. There is a poignant flavor, a bitter sweet spice, in such fall days as we are forced to accept the coming winter yet want to spend as much time holding on to the warmth of the end of summer. The days are getting shorter and the nights are colder so when we have bright sunshine and mild temperatures like we've had this weekend it is understandable that we want to be outside and share the time together in what seems like a ritual celebration of the lust for life.

One of the busiest weekends of the year saw unusually heavy traffic downtown in Knowlton as visitors from all over Quebec descended into the Lac Brome.One of the busiest weekends of the year saw unusually heavy traffic downtown in Knowlton as visitors from all over Quebec descended into the Lac Brome. The fall foliage is rich with saturated fiery colors and people come from all over Quebec and beyond to enjoy the bursts of color. The winds on Thanksgiving Monday sent leaves tumbling to the ground which makes this season so important; we have so little time to enjoy the colors before the leaves are gone and we begin to think of winter.

One of the lessons of this time of year is to make the most of every moment and seek out and appreciate the beauty in the world around us and in each and every one of us.

Thanksgiving is a time when we gather to celebrate with family and friends and give thanks for all that we have. We are fortunate here in the Eastern Townships that we live in a healthy and safe environment. It allows us to foster a greater feeling of spiritual connection to the world and to see our children grow up in warm and friendly communities. Such warm October days allow us to pause and reflect on the beauty of the natural world around us and to be thankful for everything we've got.

Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings and look to inspiration in the histories of older generations who have the wisdom of the years to share and enlighten us. Nothing can stir the soul more than poetry and this poem is by Robert Frost. Robert Frost (1874-1963) was one of the finest of rural New England's 20th century pastoral poets.

Mist rising off of the Mill Pond on Saturday morning in Knowlton. Warm fall weather makes the Eastern Townships one of the most beautiful areas of Quebec.

Gathering Leaves
by Robert Frost

Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.

I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
Running away.

But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.

I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?

Next to nothing for weight,
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for color.

Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?

Sutton Fundraiser A Magical Evening
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The candles glowing in the underground caverns created a most beautiful, almost surreal, effect turning The Casino for the Arts event held on Saturday in Sutton into an unforgettable event! This image attempts to display the echoing beauty of the night...under the full moon everything was strangely hypnotic...
The candles glowing in the underground caverns created a most beautiful almost surreal effect! The Casino for the Arts was a magical affair!
The gala fundraiser to support and encourage the local arts scene was an incredible success as hundreds of patrons enjoyed a magical evening at the Chapelle Sainte Agnes near Sutton. There was a dream-like atmosphere as a bright full moon bathed the sensuous lines of the Romanesque style buildings in a blue white glow. Nestled on a hillside close to the Vermont Border south of Sutton, the venue was generously donated by Henrietta and John Antony who graciously allowed the friends of Arts Sutton to enjoy the palacial ambiance of their truly exquisite domain. Stone lined terrasses full of vines, statues lit from above by the moon, and the crisp smell of Autumn in the air were just perfect as the night became a veritable feast for the senses.

Lovely painting on the walls seem to tell the tale of the arrivial of Autumn.The evening, named the "Casino for the Arts", included a silent auction, door prizes, a full tour of the vineyard, plus a full casino. The underground stone buildings was an incredible venue for the event! There was lovely presentations of snack and food and upon opening the huge massive wooden antique doors we were welcomed with wines, foods and smiles! The organizers of the event should be commended for the excellent evening!

The rounded stone ceilings and chandeliers of the subterranean space were wonderful, and candles glistened in corridors throughout the evening making it an almost surreal occasion; transporting us back centuries ago when knights in armor and princesses ruled the day. As people entered the massive rounded doors it was as if they were stepping into an authentic European castle.

The evening was a who's-who of the finest of the Eastern Townships friends and supporters of the arts and the formal affair was indeed well attended. Many local artists and businesses donated objects for the silent auction and there was much money raised in support of the local arts scene especially due to the hard work of all the organizing team and those who donated funds to make it happen.

The event included a silent auction and a casino featuring clean-cut croupiers who dealt blackjack and spun the roulette wheel as guests enjoyed wonderful wines and delicious canapes served by extremely cordial service staff. Every guest was given 100 dollars in play money to be exchanged for chips at the casino tables.

Action around the roulette wheel was intense. One patron landed 35 to 1 on red 34 before learning of the sudden drop in chip value! Easy come easy go!The $100 of "lucky bucks" was to exchanged for 10 casino chips but the croupiers inadvertently exchanged the 100 "lucky bucks" for 100 chips! This wasn't noticed until the casino started to notice a shortage of chips as it was suddenly realized that everyone's chips were worth 10 times their intended value! There was some quick decisions to be made and it was decided that all tables would have to stop gaming and everyone would have to exchange their chips and then start over with the new rate of exchange. We all felt a bit as if we had been holding Nortel stock as our chips tumbled in value. Needless to say, the red wine helped everyone's understanding of the situation and the evening progressed with a renewed vigor after a brief delay allowed us to refresh our glasses.

With the quantity and quality of the people who attended the event it will surely raise a fair amount of funds to help the arts in the Sutton area. All the volunteers and organizers did an absolutely impeccable job at creating one of this year's more memorable events. Hopefully this will become a yearly event if only for the chance to visit the glorious Chapelle Ste. Agnes.

The full moon cast a glow over all the statues and gorgeous stone buildings. This photo is courtesy of www.vindeglace.comThe Chapelle Ste. Agnes was built in 1993 by Henrietta Antony but the buildings looks like they could have been built hundreds of years ago the attention to detail is outstanding. Originally an antiques dealer from what is now the Czech republic, her desire was to build and create a timeless structure of incredible beauty that would lift the spirits and bring peace to all those who passed. The Chapel was built of solid stone by master stone artists in a Romanesque style. It is home to many of Mrs. AntonyÃ?s ecclesiastic artifacts, collected over a 45 year period. The Chapel was dedicated to Ste. Agnes, a thirteenth century Bohemian saint by Mrs. Antony.

More about this incredible site and generous family can be found on their website www.vindeglace.com

Record Crowds Converge on Brome
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The First Environmental Fair highlighted many green technologies including this unique housing concept.The start of autumn seems to come upon us faster every year and many of us comment on how we're caught off guard. Now the fall has officially started, we're starting to see the incredible festival of colors dancing in the trees, as leaves turn to vibrant reds and rich yellows and oranges. The colors in the Eastern Townships and the Vermont region are exceptional and draw thousands of tourists into the region as the crisp air and shortening days create a magical time for all of us who enjoy living with four distinct seasons.

The first Environmental fair kicked off at the Brome Fair Grounds on Saturday and the weather couldn't have been better. The sunny skies and bright white clouds against the fiery treeline was the perfect setting as large crowds converged on the Environmental Fair. The Brome Fair Grounds, better known for midway rides, country music, farm animals, funnel cakes and prize winning pies was transformed into an environmentalists dream as hundreds of exhibitors displayed the latest green-technologies relating to renewable-resources and sustainable development in Quebec.

The Knowlton Duck Festival (Canard en Fete) was also winding up this weekend and the stunning weather on Saturday meant that the streets of Knowlton were packed with visitors who came to enjoy the Duck Festival. This was surely the busiest day of the two-weekend event!

The corner of Knowlton Road and Lakeside was alive with festive action as people slowly strolled to the accordian music and enjoyed a taste of wine and duck specialties and browsed for antiques. Wonderful artists were painting original canvasses in fron of the downtown gallery and wild lavender was being gifted to passers-by near the miniature train station.

It was a perfect day in Knowlton with an ambiane of sheer joy and contentment...congratulations to the organizers!

The Great Duck Race

Crowds gathered early for the First Knowlton Duck RaceWe all expected a wet Sunday so there were no surprises when the sun decided to stay away during the day and instead sent in a round of ideal "duck weather". The fact that the Environmental fair was happening only a few kilometers away from Knowlton during our annual Duck Festival was somewhat of an eyebrow raiser: organizers of the Environmental fair must have understood that the duck festival is a Knowlton priority and if the Ecosphere event had happened any other time then our Knowlton businessess would likely have thrown more support into the ring...as it was...this weekend belonged to the ducks!

Despite the threat of rain the crowds gathered early at ColdBrook park to witness the first annual Duck Race. The volunteers and organizers of the day did a great job considering the conditions and they shoul all be applauded...people arrived just after noon for the start of the race which had been announced for 1 p.m. but was held off until 2 pm.

Crowds surrounded the park fences and filled the ColdBrook dam walkway as well as the Lakeside Bridge to get a glimpse of the race. A lone kayaker verified the situation of the dam flow eat the zero-hour and an echoeing loudspeaker announced the official start of the race!

Duck time stood still and it seemed to take a long time for the ducks that had been dumped into the Mill Pond at the start of the race to make their way over the dam...when the first duck finally plummeted over the edge a roar was heard from the folks on the bridge watching! Suddenly the ducks were coming at full speed over the falls and while some got caught in the eddies of the splashing water against the rocks...a steady yellow stream of rubber duckies began the trip down the ColdBrook.

The Knowlton Fire Department assured a safe and orderly duck processionOnce the ducks cascaded over the falls people began filing towards the ColldBrook trail to follow the ducks as they made their way to the finish line at the Maple Street Bridge. Members of the Knowlton Fire Department were dispersed along the banks of the brook to dispatch radio reports to home-base...a play by play of the leading ducks!

The rain began as the ducks reach the first observation deck where a large crowd had gathered to cheer on the head duck! Kids along the bank were sure that their winning ticket was associated with the lead duck. The crowds let out a sigh of dissapointment whenever a duck got stuck in tree branch or behind a rock and cheered as two ducks battled it out in the currents for the lead!

At the finish line, which was a large orange fence typical of ice barriers, the chief "duck cather" stood by holding the official duck net to capture the winning duck as it passed through the small 12" opening gate. The finish line at the Maple STreet Bridge was packed with people who cheered as the lead duck approached the line...but...as the ducky was about to cross into the winners circle...she suddenly got stiuck in the netting and didn't finish! The crowd "Oooohed"! The second duck looked like it was going all the way and sure enough the duck went across the finish line and won some lucky soul a trip to Switzerland!

The Duck Race really brought out the kid in all of us and was a great finale to the Duck Festival!

The hardest thing about this weekend was being able to attend both the Environmental Fair and the Duck Festival. But...as is often the case in the Eastern Townships...we all had a great time and the more events that take place in Knowlton the better for all of us. For everyone involved...thank-you!!
Weather can't "Fowl" Duck Fest Week-end
Brome Lake Duck Festival

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