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

The Leaning Tree Says Good-Bye
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The sunset in early June breached the boughs of the leaning tree in Knowlton. We all knew her days were numbered yet still the end came quickly...Anyone who has ever drove Victoria street, walked hand-in-hand with a loved one across the Coldbrook Bridge on Victoria Street in Knowlton, or if you’ve ever stopped on the small cement span and watched the duck families swim downstream towards Brome Lake on an calm clear night you have surely noticed “the leaning tree” rising majestically above the surrounding forest leaning over the brook.

The leaning tree has always fascinated me. When we took our evening summer strolls in the neighborhood the leaning tree has drawn our eyes like a hypnotizing magnet with her off-kilter trunk and oversized hanging boughs; the tree was a veritable giant rising above the tree tops that surrounded her and the slowly drifting waters of the Coldbrook that eroded the banks and exposed her roots also reflected her massive glorious beauty in a surreal picture of natural beauty! We would often stop on the bridge and prop our elbows on the rails and gaze at the somehow delicate form that seemed to defy gravity.

To me the leaning tree reminded me of the strong vibrant people I have ever known who, through will, luck or destiny, were afflicted with some inevitable condition that would foretell their demise years in advance. We would often stop upon the bridge and I would say “It won’t be long now!” referring to the tall tree whose roots seemed to hold on for dear life as her trunk continued to lean more and more every year.

The leaning tree would suffer during the rainy season in Knowlton adn we would often watch the waters surround her trunk and we would say it was only a matter of time before the leaning tree came down...The regular yearly flooding of the Coldbrook would often be cause for even more concern as we would see the waters of the brook climb over the banks and literally grab at the trunk of the leaning tree. The increasing angle of the tree was obviously causing concern as the tree, if it fell during a flood or a freeze, could block the brook and cause a serious flood that would potentially damage the bridge and also the properties upstream.

While we all know that an end comes to all stories, even the most beautiful, it was hard for me to cross the bridge on a sunny day last week and see the leaning tree being un-ceremoniously brought down without feeling saddened as if I were watching someone succumb to the forces…and no matter how much I wanted to change things…it was beyond my control!

The leaning tree, to me, was the mature grandmother of the Knowlton area rising above her children and grandchildren and I will miss her presence on Victoria Street! As she grew older and older she began to increasingly feel the effects of gravity, erosion and age…much like we all do and in the end, for the safety of the region, she had to come down.

Taking this gentle giant down took longer than I expected. I was driving by when I saw a crew crawling on the tree stripping her boughs and tying the winch to bring her down. Sawdust was drifting as the chainsaw teeth roared and chomped at the leaning tree trunk which measured over 3 feet in diameter. A lone resident with a camera came to the bridge to take pictures and one motorcyle stopped as he drove by and watched.

The chainsaw roared and the sawdust flew as the leaning tree came down with the help of winches and three tree cutters...like a surgical operation we watched as our leaning tree came down...

To me, on that warm sunny day...it was as if a loyal Canadian soldier who had spent a career protecting & watching over us had been suddenly taken down the line of duty and in the end only a handful of veterans turned out to say good-bye. Ok...maybe it was not as dramatic...but I can still see the sawdust blowing towards me as the leaning tree resisted being taken down for over an hour...and I felt a reeal surge of emotion taking me back through years of seeing that faithful leaning tree looking back at me...

Sometimes it is a simple natural wonder that can define a moment or a place in time…I think that for me the leaning tree made a mark on myself and maybe many people who ever saw her...despite the rapid complications of modern life I will have a special place in my heart for the patience and inherent simplicty of that leaning tree and the symbolism that such a fragile giant brings to us...

A few residents stopped on the bridge to watch the leaning tree come down...the three of us waited for 30 minutes to see the eventual splash of the tree into the brook..then said goodbye solemnly as if at the funeral of a distant friend...As the three of us watched the leaning tree come down piece by piece I almost had to choke back tears as I remembered the joy I had recieved over the last three years of my residence in Knowlton watching the yellow finches and blackbirds who perched in her swaying arms and the ducks and their families who swam in the shadows of that glorious leaning tree.

Sometimes it only takes a tree to make a difference...and often, when a single tree disappears, it can mean much more...

Knowlton Runner Wins Tour Du Lac
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Isabelle Lambert won the 10km women's race at the 2007 Tour du LacIsabelle Lambert of Knowlton was the pride of the race as the annual Tour Du Lac took place on June 24th in Lac Brome and she came in first place in the women’s 10km race. Isabelle finished the 10km in a time of 44 minutes and 3 seconds! Congratulations! Isabelle was wearing bib #243 which is also the number of our local highway which may have been part of her victorious destiny of the race. In 2006 Isabelle ran a 10km race with a time of over 70 minutes so this victory shaved close to 25 minutes off her last years run and must have been a real personal achievement! She beat out 71 other racers to come out on top in the 10k race and all of Knowlton should be very proud! Isabelle Lambert photo courtesy of Dade Dudgeon/Photoshopped by Destination Knowlton

Over 700 runners took part in the 2007 Tour Du Lac Brome on Saturday June 24th 2007 under ideal running conditions that were not too hot allowing for some record breaking times to be established in this edition of the very popular race here in Knowlton.

The annual race has been a popular event in Knowlton for years and the Saint-Jean holiday week-end has generally co-operated with great weather for the event that has various distances from 1km to 20km for all level of athletes. The “Knowlton Marathon” as some people call it, winds through the picturesque streets of Lac Brome and is a healthy alternative for people who want to do more on the Quebec National Holiday than swap Poutine recipes while drinking “Une Gros Cinquante” in the backyard by the pool.

While most of us shudder at the thought of having to drive the 16 km to Cowansville to get to the Canadian Tire holiday specials, some brave (crazy?) souls are prepared to lace up their running shoes and actually run 20km…and they seem to enjoy it! There was a great turn-out in the Lions Park for the early morning event and the crowds lined Victoria Street and all along the course we could hear shouts and cheers of encouragement from folks who clapped and encouraged the brave athletes who fought pain and fatigue to give it their best.

Maybe this is a great testament to the spirit of La Fete St-Jean? The willingness of Quebecers to be different and push themselves to the limits of physical exhaustion in the pursuit of excellence! Or maybe we are just privileged to witness a gathering of some of the most extremely obsessive folks imaginable! At least there were many runners spotted partaking in a cold beer at the finish line to disprove that a Marathon is any reason to give-up the pleasures and celebrations of a National Holiday. I know that after an hour of yard-work a cold beer is delightful so can only imagine how such a beverage tastes after circling the Lake at a full bore run…heavenly no doubt!

Hundreds of runners took part in the race and the start was exciting for everyone!The 20 km men’s race was won by the elite runner from Montreal Amor Debhi who beat out 318 other runners and covered the distance in a new course record of 1h 3min 51sec followed by two members of the running club “Les Vainqueurs” Terry Gehl inn 1h 10min 02sec and Jean-Nicolas Duval 1h 12min 49sec .

The 20km women’s race was won by Louise Voghel from St Armand who finished with a time of 1h 22min 13sec followed by Tina Kader in 1h 23min 02sec and Charlotte Gouin 1h 27min 17sec.

This year’s race almost didn’t happen as sponsorship difficulties left the event in danger of not taking place until the last moments as a group from Montreal had to take over to save the event from extinction. Their efforts and the hard work of the many volunteers paid off in the end and Knowlton once again hosted this fourth round of the provincial foot race in the Pegasus series of Sports Experts.

Of course it is not such an easy thing to organize a large sporting event and everyone involved deserves kudos for helping make the highlight of the event the runners who train long and hard to participate for their one shining moment of glory but their were certain observations sent to Destination Knowlton made by an attendee regarding the event that future organizers might want to consider:

1. Color code the bibs worn by the runners, eg Red for the 20K, Blue for the 10K and White for the 5K races, this way as the individual racers come thru the park either towards the finish line or passing thru on the 2nd leg, it will be easy for everyone to see which race the participant is running. There were runners crossing the finish line, but we could not tell which race they were from. So it was hard to know who was the 1st winner of each race.

Color coding the bibs may also make it easier for organizers and participants to make sure they are in the right race.

Friends and supporters cheered the runners despite a bit of race disorganization...at least the support was there! 2. The banner over the start/finish line was incorrectly labeled and this was said because on a few occasions we watched people switch lanes as then came to the finish. We assume that is because when they looked up at the banner over the actual finish line it showed Depart and over what would be called the Passing lane, it was marked Arrive. People on the sidelines were yelling at the runner to switch back into the correct lane.

3. Instead of having the DJ make any announcements for the race, we suggest you have one of the organizers making the announcements because that person would actually know what he/she would be talking about. The DJ on site did little to help the race's credibility. One of his biggest mistakes took place when announcing where to go for the start of the races was to only announce the starts in French and then only after some people asked him personally to repeat where to go he then announced to the public "sorry for not giving the information in English, I did not realize there were English people in the race".

4. The actual starting lines for the 5, 10 & 20K races remained somewhat of a mystery to probably a number of participants. If the 20K can begin at the starting line within the park, why did the 10K have to begin 100 meters down from the entrance to the park (which by the way your DJ called "the main road", he did not know the name of the road)? And then the 5K race started just before the entrance of the park. If you are going to have 3 different starting points, why not have each of them properly marked with an overhead banner.

5. The local newspapers had a write-up of the event and indicated what streets were being blocked off, but I did not see any public notification on site or in the newspapers of the actual route of each race.

Of course any event should welcome comments both good and bad as a form of constructive criticism so everyone involved should remember that the fact that over 700 people registered in the event and many hundreds more turned out to support the event means it was a real success!

Knowlton is once again on the map as a great place to host a major sporting event and if the plans of our locals are any indication it looks like there is room for more Quebec sporting events to take place in Lac Brome in the near future.

At the end of the day we want to congratulate the athletes and especially our own Isabelle Lambert on her spectacular race!

The times off all the runners can be found on the Official Tour Du Lac Brome Website.
Photos of the event courtesy of Dade Dudgeon.

The 2006 Tour Du Lac

Town Reveals New Logo
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The Ducky Tadoodle ...T-shirts available soon?The Town of Brome Lake unveiled their newly designed logo at the last council meeting and the first real-world sightings were seen in town ads in local newspapers in mid-June. The new logo is quite a departure from the old logo and…well…let’s just say that it is a real departure!

The new logo looks a bit like a cross between a tattoo and a doodle…but with a stylized duck head…so we’ll say that the best name we’ve heard so far to describe the new town logo is…wait for it “the ducky tadoodle”!

Apparently we’ll be seeing more and more of the “ducky tadoodle” on letterheads, in print advertisements and maybe on town trucks and notices. Anyone in business knows that changing a corporate logo usually involves great expense to re-mark vehicles, business cards etc. Imagine when a town or city changes a logo! I wonder if our fairly recent Brome Lake street signs, with their blue and rather natural looking birds in flight logo will be changed to accommodate the new graffitiesque logo.

DK’s un-scientific eavesdropping of the Knowlton coffee-shop crowd revealed mixed reactions ranging from classic indifference to disbelief that this new logo was going to be the new catalyzing symbol of our various merged towns. The regal Cowansville logo looks like a coat of arms straight from a proud history and heritage while the Bromont logo, with the sleek modern font, conjures up a symbol of a town on the move.

Such things, cannot be said for the new Brome Lake logo, as far as my naive eye can tell. There is, of course, hope that the newly revealed logo will remain as a rarely seen image on adverts and not plastered on signs around the region but if not we will surely get used to it in time. Call me a traditionalist but I prefer a more...well...traditional look to a town insignia instead of a modernly-fangled approach. I would take an old-fashioned coat-of arms over a fancy modern design any day and today is another one of those days!

While the Mayor touched briefly on the symbolism of the new design when it was unveiled at the last council meeting, (the Fleur-de lys and a duck) it is still hard to grasp what the designer of the logo was out to achieve. Is that really supposed to be a stylized Fleur-de-lys? I’m not sure if it’s just me who has noticed that the fleur de lys is not exactly a popular symbol being displayed by residents in Knowlton…even on June 24th in Knowlton there is barely a Fleur-de-lys in sight unless it’s a mini-flag hanging from a Harley Davidson as a group of motorcyclists from The Beauce roar through town on their way to a real St-Jean party! Of course the local merchants do their part to display the Quebec flag during the Saint-Jean holiday but the town hardly is known for waving the blue and white so the sudden appearance of a fleur de lys is a surprise...do we now have to change all our street signs?!

The logo is cold instead of bold, with thin lines that look more like a mock-up not a finished product and the duck head with it’s un-friendly look appears to be in a pot of soup that is boiling over or behind the bars of some macabre wrought iron cage!

Who designed this? Was there any sort of design contest like many towns have to invite children from local schools and residents to explore their creative sides and express what the town means by submitting their drawings? Wouldn’t a public vote on a new logo have been fun? Those sorts of contests always bring out the best in people and we often are surprised by the results! When I was a boy growing up in the Northwest-Territories our school had a logo design contest and all the kids submitted bright crayon drawings of a school crest. The chosen logo was drawn by an Inuit girl in the Fourth Grade and the crest is still being used by the school today and everyone is so proud of it because it came from one of their own!

Apparently, in this case, instead of going to find out what the population thought would best represent the town as a formal crest, an ad agency known as LG 2 was mandated to design this new logo. Using a Fleur-de-lys and a duck doesn’t show much of a creative leap to me nor does it seem to invoke or represent a real history of the community and the actual style of the work, according to my art-school drop-out sensibilities, does not measure up to par with the town logos or coats of arms that I’ve seen that not only tell a story but are ripe with symbols that reflect the inhabitants of a particular place.

Nothing like shock value to prove an ad agency is lacking in creative juice...violence sells but that doesn't mean it takes brains.What is this LG 2 ad agency… I took a look through their design portfolio and see that they are responsible not only for the Hydro-Quebec ads and Caise Populaire but also are the creative geniuses behind such thoughtful and creative reaches as this image of a man with a stocking over his face pointing a gun to a victims head and this rather pedestrian "artsy" take on a radical booze label with the sort of fonts that are popular amongst designer debutantes:

Oh look Mom! They made some faux-russian fonts and red splashes with arial black to make a radical design! maybe they could create a logo for our Town?Surely we can’t cast a judgment based on one image from an ad agency but goodness me…with such images in a portfolio it is surprising to me that they were even chosen to design a logo for our wholesome little town! Maybe Ozzy Osbourne could write our homecoming song? Visiting the LG 2 website isn't much of a treat for an old fashioned bloke like myself either because the darned website doesn't even work...or maybe I'm a dunce? I guess the early bird gets the worm and LG 2 really must have bagged a plump one!

According to what I read in the paper, the ad agency LG 2 gave a “deal” to the town because one of the folks involved in the ad agency LG 2 is from the area. Thanks for the $5000 deal on the logo…it looks to me that if the agency was being paid by the hour for their design work it works out to about $4500 per hour…I think the ad agency got the best of that “deal”! Heck it’s a line drawing! See the LG 2 Ad Agency Website for more of their works...and don't forget to ask for the Knowlton Deal! ;)

My meager survey of people over a hot lunch seems to concur that a contest to design a logo would have been well received by everyone.

I can say that I wouldn’t buy a souvenir t-shirt with the “the ducky tadoodle” on the front. Although…when I look closer…the new “ducky tadoodle” does seem to have the genetic cross between West Coast Choppers crossed with a Bio Hazard Warning Label … so it might just appeal to the younger kids and maybe that was the goal of the LG 2 Ad Agency.

Heck…maybe this new logo is getting rave reviews from the rest of the town and I’ll be proven wrong…it wouldn’t be the first time!

Denis Farley Show In Sutton
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The arts scene in The Eastern Townships is vibrant and a never ending source of surprises. Most people expect major artists to expose their works in major centers like Montreal and Toronto but the many local art galleries in our area are often presenting incredible works of art in the idyllic setting of our small towns and villages. Visitors to Knowlton enjoy the newly renovated Knowlton Gallery and the Sutton Art Gallery is also a never ending source of high quality works from renowned artists.

For art loving residents of the region and visitors there is an upcoming exhibit in Sutton that shouldn’t be missed. Arts Sutton Gallery is pleased to present Déplacements, an exhibition by Denis Farley, from June 14 to July 15, 2007.

The large photographs of Denis Farley are awe inspiring and dramatic in scope and subject.
Denis Farley’s very large photographs frame the strange, ambiguous relationship of the human in the presence of inhumanly sized urban and contemporary architecture, versus nature. Colossal and often highly mesmerizing urban structures are juxtaposed with fragments of nature, excerpts and details of landscape.

The way light is used in these scenes of nature/culture tends to destabilize the viewer, who is not sure which part is actually real. The positioning of a character, often the artist himself, in a kind of minuscule self-portrait, invites us to question the gigantic buildings and complexes found in major capitals around the world. The photographic work being presented in Sutton offers a perspective on the connections we, as city dwellers, have with a constructed reality, compared to a certain pastoral representation of nature. These split-image works, stretching across the horizontal plane, encourage reflection and contemplation; yet while they are very beautiful, they are also disturbing, like the effect of a travelling shot on the viewer who may, in turn, feel like a stranger in this very real world.

Denis Farley has been active in the visual arts community for more than 25 years. He received his MA in visual arts from Concordia University in 1984. Farley has been awarded many provincial and federal art grants and has exhibited widely in Quebec, Canada and Europe. He has executed several public art commissions, including one for Dawson College of Montreal. Farley’s photographs are in major public and private collections, including the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography in Ottawa and the Fonds National d'art contemporain in Paris.

You are invited to meet the artist at the exhibition opening at 2 p.m. on June 16, 2007. The opening of this exhibition will be held Saturday, June 16 at 2:00pm. The President of the Gallery, Mr. Yves L.-Ph. Cousineau, will introduce the artist and Mr. Farley will make a presentation of his work at 2:30pm. Wine will be served, which makes it a good bet I will be there!

The show is open to the public from Thursday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., until July 15.

The Sutton Gallery is in Sutton, a short drive from Knowlton, and is at 7 Academy Street. Information on this show and other happenings at the gallery can be had by calling 450-538-2563 or visit their website : www.artssutton.com

The artist has an intriguing website that showcases his many large photographs and unique installation pieces: www.denisfarley.net

Apple Blossom Time
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The morning light of the sun caught this apple blossom and I was fortunate to be there to see it!The other day I was walking in Knowlton and was literally hypnotized by the beauty of an apple tree in blossom. The sunlight was peeking through the branches and the delicate goassamer skin of the white petals glowed in a magical sheen. The darkness of the background made a great picture I think.

One of the benefits of living in the natural beauty of Knowlton is being able to find so many deliciously natural beauty all around us!

With the heat coming back we start to plant our gardens and watch as poppies bloom and burst into colorful pageantry. The perfumed moist air of June is a magnificant tonic for the soul and makes us all appreciate the life we enjoy nestled here in a quiet little section of God's green earth.

Such moments often bring back the memory of a beautiful piece of poetry that has touched us and after seeing the glorious apple blossom I was reminded of a poem by e e cummings that has always been one of my favorites.



somewhere i have never travelled

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

poem by ee cummings




More pictures of beauty and fun are in the Picture Gallery

Knowlton Public Market Is Back
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The Knowlton Market brings friends out to pick up fresh produce every Saturday! The summer of 2006 marked the grand opening of the Knowlton Public Market and the local Saturday market, nestled beneath the trees on a lovely lot in Knowlton near Flannigans General Store, was a huge success. Residents and visitors enjoyed the weekend chance to purchase fresh produce and goodies in the atmosphere that makes urban markets likes the Atwater Market such a great place to visit.

With the 2007 edition of the market set to open on June 16th Knowlton is proud to have such a market in town as the ambiance of the market is wonderful for locals and visitors alike !

In the first year alone over 7,000 baskets of fresh produce were sold and much of the products offered were from local growers working hard in the Eastern Townships. At the end of the 2006 season the operators of the market introduced Quebec Lamb from the Hallacres Farm of Iron Hill and Beef from the Badger Farm of Bolton West. The market happens weekly under the swaying trees off of Maple Street .

Due to the enormous public popularity of the market the organizers of the Knowlton Public Market, lead by the enthusiastic Henri Laban, they built extra covered table space in order to create more vendor space to offer even more variety. Last years collection of fresh vegetables, baked goods and hot specialty coffees were such a welcome addition to the Knowlton summer landscape that this years additions will likely create an even better atmosphere !

Some of the local producers who will be offering their fine edibles this year include : Les Fleurs D’Alison Marks from Knowlton, Le poisson fumé : Curtis Baird from Stanstead, Les légumes bio des Jardins de la Grelinette from St-Amand, Les agneaux de la Ferme Hallacres from Iron Hill, Le bœuf Highland de la famille Badger from West-Bolton, Boulangerie Owl’s Bread from Mansonville, Les légumes bio des Potagers des Nues Mains from Sutton, Les miels des Trois Acres from Dunham,
Les légumes, fruit et tartes de chez Noel Roy from Bondville, Le café de Star Café. From Knowlton, Les volailles et les œufs bios de la belle Ferme from. Dunham,
Les lapins de Johanne Gaudreau from the Ville de lac-brome, Les produits dérivés des pommes des Vergers petits fruits Léger from Cowansville, and Fromages canadiens de Fritz Kaiser from Noyan.

Such variety is sure to appeal to all manner of culinary interest and to have such a collection of quality local products gathered together is surely a sign of the importance of Knowlton and the Market as a favorite destination for families and all lovers of the finer things in life!

According to organizers the market saw an average of 520 visitors every Saturday at the Market, arriving on foot, by bicycle or by car. The location of the market makes it a lovely walk from most of our homes or from the local hotels and B&B’s by guests who visit Knowlton. What could be better than buying the fresh ingredients for a picnic right in a bustling marketplace at an affordable price!

Surveys of the visitors in 2006 showed that 45% came from the Brome Lake Region, 45% came from outside our boundaries and 10% were from the USA. 33% of visitors to the Market met friends or people they knew and surely the other 67% made new friends…that’s the way Knowlton works !! If the sunshine can show her magnificent face for the Saturday market then we will likely see an even greater success this year !

We hope to see you there ! Remember the Knowlton Public Market is open every Saturday from 8am to 1pm starting June 16th running to October 6th. The Market is located just down the street from the vintage corner store, Flannegans, at 40 Maple Street,

Dog Show Parade Has Tails Wagging
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Thanks to Judith Duncanson and Dade Dudgeon who took all these excellent pictures.

The pooches on parade!The Dog Show in Knowlton was held recently and as always was quite an extravagant parade of pooches and proud puppy owners who got to strut there stuff and show-off their best behaviour to large crowds who lined Lakeside and happily watched the event in the Park beside the Mill Pond.

The annual event helps raise funds for the SPCA Monteregie and for the Frontier Animal Society. Not only that it helps raise awareness to the plight of homeless and abandoned animals and the hard working volunteers of theMr. Rousseau and Bidule! SPCA and animal shelters everywhere deserve to be thanked for all they time they give to help the creatures in our midst who rely so much on our care and affection.

Good Sasha!This picture is of Marie and Sasha - a recently retired Mira dog.

This was the 7th annual Dog Show and is the well known celebration of our four-legged furry friends in Knowlton. Residents get to cast votes for the “Best in Store” dog which gives us a chance to vote for our favourite store dogs! Knowlton is the kind of town where store owners often consider their dogs as one of the family and we often see a comfortable canine lounging in the corner of a boutique.

The local shop dogs are always enjoying the people shopping and are more often than not soliciting a pat on the ear or a scratch of the belly! In a small town like Knowlton most of the residents know the dogs by name and the puppies seem to appreciate the friendly attitude as much as their owners!

This picture shows the three top dogs and their proud owners from left to right: Sonya Frechette with Fanny,  Heather Heath with Toby Tucker,  Jean McLeod with P.J.! Congratulations!This picture shows the three top dogs and their proud owners from left to right: Sonya Frechette with Fanny, Heather Heath with Toby Tucker, Jean McLeod with P.J.! Congratulations!

The dog show also gives proud parents the chance to enter their dogs into the "Open Invitational". The crowds gathered in the park and the dogs were on their best dressed behaviour. You could see the pride in the owners as every dog had his moment in the spotlight; shaking a paw, doing tricks or just plain looking cute! Of course the funds raised go to a good cause but the best part of the show is seeing how much love and joy dogs bring into our lives!

Thanks to Judith Duncanson and Dade Dudgeon for his excellent pictures! Visit Dade Dudgeons website to see more great photographs from the area.

Brome Lake Announces Lake Plan
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Hopefully Brome Lake will remain open for swimming throughout the year. It's too early to tell but we have to hope!Only days after the Mayor of Brome Lake called a press conference to present the Town’s assault plan on blue green algae in Brome Lake the news came down that neighboring lakes were being closed due to Cyanobacteria. The closures sent shockwaves throughout the Eastern Townships as such early June closures are not a good sign since lakes are typically labeled as “sick” much later in the season.

The press conferences were called to present the latest plans by the municipality to combat the problematic occurrences of algae blooms. The thrust of the fight will be to combat the phosphor that enters the lake.

The protection of the watershed and land surrounding Brome Lake is the key focus of the plan and includes planting trees and bushes and restoring shorelines to a natural state to a width of up to 10 meters. There will also be modifications to the rules of applying herbicides and pesticides and by-laws will be more strictly enforced to ensure compliance and restrictions on grass cutting will also be imposed.

During the June 4th council meeting it was also announced that a number of inspectors of the Town will now have the power to enter and inspect private lands to enforce the bylaws and this will not require the permission of the landowner.

If detergents are the problem then perhaps we need some phosphate free dishwashers!Detergents containing phosphates must be reduced if not eliminated as soon as possible, according to the plan. The common household detergents that most of use in our washing up and laundry are loaded with phosphates that can end up in our lake and lead to problems. There are phosphate free detergents available and it surely won't be long before there are such freindly suds available here in town, heck someone should market a homegrown phosphate-free soap using the Brome Lake name!

As well private engineering firms will perform systematic inspections of septic installations and efforts to monitor and improve pumping stations and aqueducts will be forthcoming. Major sewer projects from Fisher Point to Rock Island Bay will be evaluated and updated to ensure minimal inflow of unwanted nutrients occurs.

Golf courses, often unfairly pinpointed as major polluters of watersheds due to their usage of fertilizers, will undergo systematic follow-ups by the Environment Minister with the hopes of ensuring minimal impact on the aquatic eco-system.

The controversy surrounding motor boats was also touched upon with the Town wanting to ban 2 stroke motors built before 2004 by the end of this year and imposing a no wake zone of 150 meters from shore. The talk of banning snowmobiles and ice fishing vehicles within the next few years was also mentioned in the press release and at the last council meeting some folks were a bit rattled at the thought that there was the possibility that boats, snowmobiles and ice fishing would be banned from the lake within 5 years.

Some attendees of the last council meeting were upset that the actions proposed by the Town involve limiting usage of the Lake and some expressed concern that ice fishing would be banned and any family recreational use of the lake would soon be completely gone. By citing dish soap and motorboats as culprits in the lakes ills some thought they were conveniently ignoring the farms and industries in the area that were likely responsible for quite a bit of phosphore infiltration into the watershed.

At the Renaissance Lac Brome held earlier Robert Lapalme spoke of the damaging agricultural practices that have gone on for decades. Animal agriculture creates a lot of waste and the amount of phosphor per tonne of pig production is 1.5 to 3 kg. This seems high considering that Lapalme said 1 gram of any sort of fertilizer can lead to 500 grams of algae in the lake. What is really mind-boggling is that duck and chicken production results in 23 – 31 kg of phosphor per tonne!

The Duck Farm in Brome Lake reportedly processes 1.5 million ducks per year and if we say that a duck weighs 2 kg then we get 3000000 kgs or 3000 tonnes per year. If each tonne of duck production creates 27kg of phosphor then we have Brome Lake Duck farm producing 84,000 kgs of phosphore per year. OUCH! Some people look at this sort of information and wonder how the finger can be pointed at the Apple Scented Dish Soap under the sink. Heck if detergents are to blame then shouldn’t it stand to reason the LEK, processing mass quantities of shampoos and cosmetics would be equivalent to 10,000 dishwashers running on pot scrubber? Some folks think that this is typical government strategy of blaming the population instead of going after the real culprits...but in the end we are all connected so we are all as much to blame as anyone!

The dark areas on this map illustrate the fact that there are still vast natural habitats in the most populated regions, for example along the Quebec / Vermont border as well as in New Hampshire and Maine in the USThis image shows our fragile little tract of land. This Appalachian natural “province”, or ecoregion, is recognized by Environment Canada as one of the two ecoregions most at risk in Quebec, and as a priority for the protection of species and their habitat. Appalachian Corridor (ACA) is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is the protection of the natural areas of the Appalachians. They now have offices in Knowlton at 277 Knowlton Road. Visit the Appalachian Corridor (ACA) website
The Town does have to follow the rules set out in the laws which are set out by the Government and there is only so much they can do given the current “rules of engagement”. Blaming the Town for not acting isn’t fair because they are bound by the laws that have been created, to think otherwise would be naïve.

What was interesting was a recent Report on TVA regarding Lac Bluet, a large Quebec Lake that had been suffering for years from degrading lake health, odors, algae blooms, and cloudy water. The residents around the lake took the bull by the horns and all pooled their resources and purchased some sort of large aeration system and dumped in bacterial cultures into the lake. Apparently, one year later, the lake quality was improved beyond their expectations with divers registering clarity improvement of 40% and an almost complete lack of odors! Adding bacteria and large aeration systems to lakes would likely be poo-pood by the Ministry of the Environment and likely Lac Bluet residents didn’t even bother to ask! That’s the way to do it! Grab the bull by the horns! These ambitious lakeside residents have spent less than $15,000 and completely turned their lake around enough that it is worthy of TVA doing a story on it!

Our lake is a bit of a bigger beast so if anyone is going to take that bull by the horns it will need to be a Paul Bunyenesque character to organize that! Let’s hope that all sides can work together for the sake of the Lake instead of blaming anyone in particular. The past is the past and we need to move forward to keep the lifestyle we love!

It’s too early to tell what steps will actually be taken and as of yet there is no use crying that the sky is falling and saying soon Brome Lake will be off limits to all recreation activity. We need to let the next few months play out and see how Mother Nature treats us this season and wait for the details of the Towns plan to unfold.

Teknika Report Delayed Again
Read the full story here.

Are we getting taken for a ride?Lakes around the Eastern Townships are already starting to be affected by blooms of cyanobacteria and blue green algae and this earlier than usual start to the water problems in Quebec seems to be a grave foreboding of what is to come. While citizens of Brome Lake are being re-assured by all levels of Government that action is being taken to fight the problem it seems to most people that it is a lot of talk and not much action.

We’re all still waiting for this plan of action from Teknika, the engineering firm with the mandate to collect and decipher information to come up with a long term action plan for the cleaning of the lake, and some folks are busy looking at the calendar and tapping their watches wondering when exactly this master plan will arrive.

Some cynics moan that Teknika has bit off more than they can chew and maybe don’t even have the environmental know-how or life-science qualifications to present a viable plan. That is unlikely since Teknika HBA have decades of experience in large projects although the extent of their knowledge of living aquatic systems may be an issue for discussion. We’ll have to wait and see. The thing is, so far, all we have been doing is waiting!

Teknika has sent representative Pierre Bertrand to press conferences with the Town to demonstrate they are serious about attacking the problem with conviction. That sounds great and makes for powerful headlines! Mr. Bertrand said that one gram of phosphor equals 500 grams of algae and it was “as simple as that”. If things were so simple then one would think that cutting the phosphor that gets into the lake and sealing out the existing phosphor that is in the lake is the answer. Is that simple? Not on your life!

Robert Lapalme, guest speaker at the RLB meeting, said that a radical mindshift would be required to get people off of their obsessions with perfect lawns and the agricultural community would have to basically re-invent itself. This is radical talk and Teknika is likely not going to be proposing any paradigm shift in thinking but will instead use their decades of experience in infrastructural engineering to create a massive project involving massive engineering and, likely, more tax dollars.

The troublesome thing for many residents is that Teknika is taking longer than they were supposed to deliver their report and recommendations and with many lakes starting to suffer from algae blooms in early June they want to know that the Town isn’t just wasting their tax dollars by paying a large engineering firm to come up with an environmental solution. Would we rather see an action plan written by David Suzuki or by Bill Gates…both are experts but are they both as equally qualified for the job?

So where is this Teknika report/plan that was due some time ago? What ever happened to time tables? Some folks think it will be interesting to know how much of our tax dollars being spent to restore the lake will be going into consultants coffers. Regardless of the eventual cost one thing is certain...if completing this report was a task on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” then team Teknika would have been brought to the boardroom and unceremoniously fired for un-pardonable delays and failure to complete the task on time and they would be sleeping in tents!

Renaissance Lac Brome Annual Meeting
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Peter White of Renaissance Lac Brome looks on and listens to questions from members during the annual generla meeting of the group held in Knowlton.The Annual General Meeting of Renaissance Lac Brome was held recently at the Lac Brome community center and the Saturday morning was sunny and warm as the crowds gathered, filing in from the parking lot around the newly constructed meeting facility in what felt like a Sunday Mass gathering at the local church.

There was a bottle neck at the entrance as the crowds filed into the meeting room with the lovely large windows overlooking the Lions Park and the high sloping ceilings adding to the cathedral like atmosphere, all that was missing was the sounds of an organ playing and a few candles!

Renaissance Lac Brome is a grass roots organization that has been around for several years with a fairly large membership of citizens concerned with the state of Brome Lake especially during the many recent years when blue green algae have caused shut-downs of not only Brome Lake but also many other lakes in the area of the Eastern Townships.

In the lobby tables were adorned with pamphlets and information on the Renaissance Lac Brome vision as well as a table featuring phosphate free soaps and products that households can use to help reduce the phosphates that flow into the lake. Phosphates have been pinpointed as the main nutrient in the lake that causes the deadly blue green algae.

As the meeting came to order heads turned and surveyed the hall trying to find the location of the members of the town council, namely the Mayor of Lac Brome, who had apparently been invited to attend the meeting. There were reported sightings of one council member at the start of the meeting but it seems his presence at the meeting was short lived.

On one level it was understandable that no-one from the Town of Brome Lake council showed up as this was an annual meeting of a private, home-grown collection of concerned citizens who want to take the care and protection and stewardship of the lake into their own hands; on the other hand some folks found it odd that the Mayor, whom the day before at a press conference was doing his best to highlight how the Town of Brome Lake was getting serious about taking care of the lake, didn’t nod a sign of encouragement towards the efforts of Renaissance Lac Brome (RLB) by attending their meeting.

Of course it’s not really hard to understand the Town’s reluctance to send in one of their own considering the way these two groups have been getting along it would be like sending in an un-armed soldier into enemy territory! Heck, if the Mayor had attended the meeting it likely would have turned into something akin to Saving Private Ryan!

As it was, the meeting was quite interesting and under-scored how a band of citizens and residents can actually try and work together for a common goal which is no mean feat in these days of personal self-interest.

Robert Lapalme spoke of a need for a radical shift in thinking to tackle the problems of local lakes.The guest speaker was Robert Lapalme, renowned author and aquatic specialist who has been active in restoring lakes for over 20 years, who presented his ideas on how to best combat the problems of pollution and blue green algae in Brome Lake.

His approach would be a long term approach that would see positive effects in the 10 year range. Dealing with such complex natural systems is not something that can be tackled in a few short years. The key, of course, will be to reduce phosphates which are known to be partly responsible for the toxic algae blooms among other problems. Restore the shoreline and reduce the amount of lawns and reduce drastically or eliminate the use of fertilizers on lawns and in gardens. He spoke of how we saw that any change would require a complete mind shift from our current obsession with manicured lawns.

Anyone who has driven around the lake can imagine that asking the residents to eliminate their lawns may create a bit of resistance to say the least! Considering the golf courses and new development going on within the Lac Brome watershed it seemed like any hope to save the lake would be doomed to fail if the current way of thinking continues. It sounds a bit like saying we need to do something about global warming but who among us is willing to give up our vehicles?

Even with Mr. Lapalme’s somewhat utopian view of the solution he also underlined that major changes needed to be made in the infrastructure of all municipalities. He spoke on the drainage systems and roadside ditches that were often constructed completely wrong by Town workers and construction crews. The drainage systems must be improved upon so that fertilizers and other chemicals are not simply washed into the lake; bands of thick plants to act as filters are desired to soak up phosphates before they enter the lake.

Many home-owners along Lakeside or Bondville have lawns that look like they are expecting Tiger Woods to putt out at any moment and the fact that our own ex-Prime Minister Paul Martin wants to build a private golf-course on his land is proof that no matter how much we are learning about our environment there are always going to be a certain group of people who are not willing to do a paradigm shift in thinking to perhaps contemplate the idea that what we need is wild, lush vegetation and not treeless expanses of manicured, fertilized fairways!

Beautiful Brome Lake and Douglass Beach are resources we must protect for generations who follow.Regardless of the intentions of RLB it will take more than a few hundred determined minds to try and change the existing rules of the game. I do admire their ambitions though! Many people think that the reality is that the people who run the game, like the Ministry of the Environment, The Government of Quebec and the Town Councils of the region are controlled by the very people who own businesses and farms that drive the economy or develop land for real estate. Trying to change their minds would be like asking them to suddenly start using a barter economy.

RLB, since it’s inception years ago, has seen many people involved in their leadership throw up their hands in surrender and frustration the new group headed by Peter White seem determined and non-plussed by the hurdles in front of them!

They have now 30 representatives around the lake who will constantly monitor the condition of the lake and watch for any signs of algae blooms and outlined their concrete steps which they believe need to be taken to restore the lake including: making the lake a priority, ensure that farms and golf courses cut back on fertilizer use, restore the shoreline, improving ditching practices.

The meeting question period had to be cut short due to time restrictions, for some reason the hall had only been booked until noon and then another group had the space reserved, so the question period didn’t get to play out for more than 5 minutes. The thrust of the sentiment expressed by the members and onlookers in the hall was that it was incredulous that no-one from the Town of Brome Lake attended the meeting.

More information on Renaissance Lac Brome and their mission can be found on the Renaissance Lac Brome website. www.renaissancelbl.com

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