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Suggestion for a Beautiful Day Trip into the History of Quakers in Quebec

Jean-Louis Demers — June 26, 2021 Rainbow in Farnham, QC

The first Quaker family to settle in Quebec, other than Nicholas Austin’s, was Gideon Bull’s in 1800. With their arrival, an official Quaker Meeting was founded in Lower Canada, at East Farnham. A closely knit community, these Quakers lived their values of equality and justice and were respected for their peaceful ways. This was the largest Quaker community in 19th century Canada and was made up of more than thirty families.

Quaker House in Farnham, QC

Formal Meetings of this group began about 1814 and continued until about 1902. According to the archives, the Meeting’s decline was caused by the lure of the city, where young people were able to find better paying jobs.

Contrary to what you might think, the Montreal Quaker Meeting of the present has no connection to the descendants of the East Farnham Meeting. It seems that the Montreal Meeting was completely separate, founded through a few personal initiatives, especially that of Alfred Stanfield of McGill University around 1907.

If the history of these Quaker ancestors stirs your curiosity, I would like to propose to you a trip into their past. Begin with a visit to the county museum in Knowlton, Lac Brome. A small corner is devoted to this community—in particular, a collection of books from their library.

Quaker bookshelf Farnham, QC
Quaker Bookshelf containing the books of the East-Farnham Meeting, 1814 to 1902, located in the Brome County Historical Society Museum, Knowlton QC

After that, drive to the abbey at Saint-Benoit-du Lac and take the small trail leading to the engraved stone commemorating Nicholas Austin. And further, the most touching part of this tour, visit the old Quaker Cemetery of East-Farnham at East-Farnham au 620 chemin Hallé Est (a gravestone is visible from Google Street view. This is a magnificent place which is filled with peace.

Commemorative Stone at the Entrance of the Quaker Cemetery in East-Farnham.
Commemorative Stone at the Entrance of the Quaker Cemetery in East-Farnham.

It is also possible to visit Friends Cemetery located at 1105 Chemin Nord in Brigham, QC. The two cemeteries are only 2.5 km apart.

Friends Meetinghouse Cemetery in Farnham, QC

A winery is located very close by… if you wish to raise a glass to their health! Here’s to an ideal summer or autumn excursion.

Quaker Meeting House Cemetery.
Quaker Meeting House Cemetery. This antique, humble cemetery is still maintained.

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