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Taken from Looking at History blog

The Eastern Townships

Situated to the south-east of Montreal, the comté de Missisquoi is delimited to the south by the
American border, to the east by the comté de Stanstead, to the north by Shefford and to the west
by the comté de Rouville; and also in the south-west by Missisquoi Bay.[11] The name of the
comté is also written as Missiskoui, a word of Amerindan origins meaning ‘the place where there
are water birds’.[12] The comté is made up of the seigneurie de Saint-Armand[13] and the
cantons of Stanbridge, Dunham and Sutton.[14] In 1831, the population of Missisquoi was
10,736 habitants almost entirely of British origin. [15] French Canadians made up only a tenth of
the population of the Cantons de l’Est in 1840. [16] The area was favourable to agriculture, in
particular corn, oats, rye and buckwheat, but livestock breeding was also very widespread in the
region.[17] Mills for flour, carding, sawing and fulling were numerous, 83 were listed in 1844,
and the area also had various industries such as potash factories, distilleries and saw-mills. [18]
In the Cantons de l’Est generally, the road network was poor and led to many petitions from
habitants calling for improvements.[19] However, the comté de Missisquoi was better placed
with access to roads in the Upper Richelieu, Missisquoi Bay and with Lake Champlain leading to
the focus of its economic activity being more directed to the east.[20]

The settlement of the comté was relatively recent. The seigneurie de Saint-Armand had been
granted to Nicolas Levasseur in 1748 but it was not until 1787 that it was opened to settlement
when it was acquired by Thomas Dunn.[21] Dunham was the first canton to be established in
Lower Canada in 1796 and Stanbridge and Sutton followed in 1801 and 1802 respectively. [22]
Certain sites were occupied before the official granting of land and some pioneers were evicted
by new owners. [23] Colonisation was initially by loyalists (1775-1815) and the British settlers
(1815-1840). [24]

The comté de Missisquoi elected its first two deputies in by-elections in 1829, previously it had
formed part of the comté de Bedford that only had the right to one deputy. In 1829, Richard
Freligh[25] and Ralph Taylor[26], both loyalists, were elected; Freligh was replaced by Stevens
Baker[27] in the elections the following year and Taylor was re-elected. Between 1834 and 1838,
Missisquoi elected a reformer, Ephraïm Knight[28] and William Baker[29], a loyalist.[30] The
comté saw an important mobilisation of opinion, loyalist rather than Patriote, during the 1830s.
Between 1834 and 1837, 18% of loyalist assemblies and 7% of Patriote meetings held in the
district of Montreal were held in Missisquoi and it was the most active loyalist comté.[31] The
cantons of Dunham and Stanbridge were sympathetic to the reformers while Sutton and Saint-
Armand and especially the villages of Philipsburgh and Frelighsburgh were loyalist bastions.[32]
During this period, the 83 active militant Patriotes organised 26-35 events while the 192 active
loyalists organised 36 events. However, there was a crumbling of support for the reform
movement at the end of 1836 and beginning of 1837.[33]

The major reasons for loyalist and Patriote behaviour lay in a series of events that crystallised
opinion: the Ninety-Two Resolutions of early 1834, the general elections in the autumn of the
same year, the establishment of comités de correspondance and constitutional associations from
the autumn of 1834 to the following spring, the Gosford Commission and Russell’s Ten
Resolutions in early 1837. The rejection of the Ninety-Two Resolutions led to one of the largest
gatherings of the comté. Organised on 4 July at Stanbridge, American Independence Day, it
attracted many Americans. Nearly 1,000 Patriote sympathisers voted for a series of resolutions
calling for closer links with the United States and for boycotting British goods.[34] Among the
issues that dominated debate in Missisquoi were: Crown Lands, seigneurial tenure and
immigration; the election of the Legislative Council; patronage, sinecures and the salary of
agents from Lower Canada in London; and especially the question of subsidies. Most important,
however, were the emotional ethnic tensions between British settlers and French Canadians that
were fanned by the extremism of James Moir Ferres[35], editor of the conservative Missiskoui
Standard and in his inflammatory pamphlets.[36] There were two other newspapers in
Missisquoi, both reformist in outlook: the Missiskoui Post and Canada Record and the Township

The most celebrated event in the comté de Missisquoi during the rebellions was the battle of
Moore’s Corner, near Saint-Armand on 6 December 1837. On the evening of 6 December, a
group of around 80 rebels crossed the border from the United States and moved north into
loyalist territory and at Moore’s Corner they were defeated by 300 volunteers. The skirmish
lasted fifteen minutes and led to the Patriote retreat across the border leaving behind their
wounded who were taken prisoner. This event showed the ability of the Missisquoi Volunteers to
deal with the Patriote threat without assistance from British regulars. Calm was restored to the
comté by the end of 1837. The revival of Patriote fortunes in 1838 resulted in the mobilisation of
the Volunteers on several occasions especially in February 1838 and in November with the
tentative rising of the Frères Chasseurs. The events in 1837 and 1838 in the comté resulted in the
collapse of the Patriote cause. The political life of the comté was placed in the hands of
conservative deputies favourable to Union. At the same time, a new period of colonisation
opened in the Cantons de l’Est that saw the influx of French Canadians, a process helped by the
arrival of the railway in the region.