Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.09.08
Stanstead, Quebec


Your 2008 summer vacation

STANSTEAD, QC | With the cost of gasoline almost as expensive as a baby on eBay, the smart vacationer should consider sticking close to home this summer. Thankfully, Quebec's Eastern Townships are chock-a-block full of festivals and fairs to make your summer truly summer-ific!

The festival season kicks off this coming weekend with Muesli Fest in Derriere Cliff. This two-day salute to breakfast cereals is a healthy part of your complete vacation. Just add fun.

Take part in the Wheat Puff as contestants see who can blow a piece of cereal fastest to the finish line. Ride the Tilt-a-Bowl. Visit the House of Seven Deadly Niacins. Enjoy the music of Frosty Fred and the Flakes, featuring Manny the Milkman on the spoons.

And who knows? You just might learn something. For instance, did you know that each piece of Jugger-Knots Cereal, which was popular in the Townships in the early 1900s, weighed four pounds? It was fortified with iron -- literally.

On June 14 and 15, the action moves to St-Shlemeil-de-Bolton for La Fête du Shellac, which celebrates the vital heritage and rich tapestry of varnishes, finishes, stains and lacquers through the ages. Everyone in St-Shlemeil wishes you "wood" come. Cross your fingers for good weather, otherwise things could get sticky.

What says summer more than a nice refreshing cocktail? Why, a nice refreshing cocktail with extravagant garnish, of course! Find out all about it as the Université de Slurbrooke (Homerville Continuing Ed Extension) hosts the 2nd Annual Fancy Drink Symposium June 20.

The symposium is open to all cocktail lovers -- from connoisseurs of coconut liqueurs to weekend margarita mixologists. You'll find out everything you need -- and more! - about the latest advances in garnishing technology, whether it's musical swizzle sticks or the latest application of eggplant wedges.

Be sure to sign up for the keynote speaker, Dr. Simon Bacardier whose topic will be "Big Men, Little Umbrellas: Masculinity and the Girlie Drink."

On June 24, there's not much happening.

But come July, get ready! Because July means good times at the Festival du Blues de Wobbleton, July 5 and 6. Featured entertainers this year include Blind Billy Bunion who'll perform his hit single, "I'm Not Dying But I'm Trying." Also on hand will be Really, Really, Really Blue Rodeo who just released their third CD It Can't Get Any Worse, Can It? And be sure to check out Johnny Mumbles as he performs his six-hour song cycle entitled The Zoloft Ain't Workin', Warden. New this year: on-site counselling.

July 12 sees the return of Boarder Fest in Spamstead. This annual event has become something of a tradition as the town celebrates its rich rooming-house heritage. Once home to the largest population of itinerant boarders between Montreal and Boston, Spamstead now boasts only two official rooming houses, although apartment tenants keep the tradition alive by regularly skipping out on their rent.

Visitors to Boarder Fest will get to relive history as actors portraying homely widowed landladies chastise them about playing music too loudly and warn them about entertaining members of the opposite sex in their rooms.

And of course the boarders at Spamstead College are a big part of the day as they take part in the annual 5 km race.

At noon, the students will venture beyond the confines of the College to race up town to Subway for a 12-inch sandwich. Then they'll race back to the campus where they won't be seen again until next year.

Besides festivals, the Townships boasts many permanent exhibitions and interpretative centres, including Dinville's Musée des Beaux Beaus, which features photographs and profiles of the top-rated boyfriends in the Townships. (The displays rotate frequently.) And don't miss Stunton's Centre for the Preservation and Appreciation of Chock-a-Blocks.

So why not stay home this summer? (Well, not completely home. You should leave the house. I mean "home" in more of a community sense, like "nearby" or "not Montreal.") Come on: anchor your "ship" in the Townships. There's lots to "sea."

Except ocean. We don't have that.