Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 10.23.11
Stanstead, Quebec


Gushing over Quebec tap water

"Residents of Sherbrooke are drinking the best tap water in Quebec, according to a jury made up of water experts and a sommelier -- The winning choice was based on clarity, odour and taste, much like wine is judged." -- CBC News website


With the clarity of a professionally maintained aquarium, St-Étienne's water offers up the delicate aroma of fresh snow, wet leaves and the slightest hint of bowling shoes. Triggering nostalgic memories of drinking from the garden hose and strange stirrings after spying your friend's mom in a bikini, our sample starts with a sharpness at the front of the tongue due to calcium deposits, then finishes at the back of the throat due to gravity. However, we remarked a certain shortfall in overall wetness, and thus found it quenched our physical thirst yet not our thirst for greater meaning in a relentlessly cruel world. 8.1/10


At the outset we should mention that the integrity of our sample was potentially compromised by the fact that we were unable to find a clear glass and were instead provided a chipped coffee mug emblazoned with the phrase "World's Greatest Bladder," which was admittedly à propo given the scope of this exercise. We should note also that the mug was wiped "clean" with a back issue of Silage Aficionado. But, as the saying goes, when in Farnham, do carry a lot of hand sanitizer. Consequently, we cannot fully confirm that Farnham water has the clarity of weak broth, the odour of a hat lining and the taste of Crayon shavings, but we cannot fully rule it out either. 4.7/10

Weedon Centre

Piquant, fruity, with musky overtones. But enough about our sommelier. Instead, let us immerse ourselves in the boldness of Weedon Centre water, which erupts from household taps with unbridled virility, churning the air with a mist of bracing effervescence, refreshing the pores and moistening shirtfronts in an entirely provocative and distracting manner. In the nose, we sense the crackling ions of cumulus nimbus, with a well-deserved slap of vintage Hai Karate. This is a superb match for a nihilistic clarity that speaks of frigid Himalayan nights accompanied only by a box of limes, a steel blade and a passionately dedicated Sherpa. Nonetheless, when the water jumps from the glass and charges pell-mell down our throat without lingering for a taste, without asking, without any tenderness at all, it goes too far, too, too far. 7.7/10


We were so perplexed by Stanstead's tap water -- fizzy clarity, burnt hair odour, oatmeal-y taste -- that we had it analyzed. The results indicated that it contained high levels of manganese and iron along with traces of sulphur, potassium, lipstick, Woolite, cotton candy, pen ink, cat hair, malt beverage, hair gel, Pop Rocks, Benadryl, parmesan cheese, asphalt and the Colonel's secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. But don't let that stop you because, no matter what the locals tell you, Stanstead water is actually pretty good! 8.2/10


Rascally, with complex overtones of briskness and butterscotch, not to mention an entirely whimsical dereliction of duty, Coaticook water is not the working-class quaff one might anticipate. Rather, it is cheerfully self-effacing as it aerates joyfully in the glass, as if to say, "It will be my pleasure to nourish your tissues and aid in overall digestion." There is a heady, citrusy quality to the most pleasing odour. Taste-wise, we happily stumble upon a sort of sweetness, setting off pleasure receptors that aid in the overall satisfaction of what can only be described as "a refreshment." Bravo, Coaticook, for your delicious and delightful water! 10/10* Sherbrooke

What do we look for in drinking water? Hydration? Yes. Refreshment? Certainly. Companionship? Possibly. An income tax deduction? Unlikely. What we seek when we open the tap in our home is peace of mind. Sherbrooke tap water is reassuring in its wateriness. It is nearly invisible in its clearness yet not so invisible as to create a tripping hazard. It offers up the odour of well-adjusted white people performing moderate aerobics. In taste, it is complete, with an introduction, a body and a conclusion, along with a complete bibliography of mineral content in APA format. It is the very essence of water. Super watery. What we think of when we think of water. Therefore, we can conclusively say, after sampling and judging countless municipal waters, that we seriously need a drink. 9.8/10

* Disqualified after it was discovered the judges had been drinking Fresca.