Brome Lake Marsh, Knowlton, Louise Penny and the Benedictine Monastery
The second day of our September 2018 Road Scholar trip of kayaking adventures, Kayak Day Trips: Quebec and Vermont, took us deep into the Eastern Townships of Quebec Province to Brome Lake.
The launch site at Tiffany Park included a dozen mallard ducks, obviously fed by human hands, with no fear of people. Our group of 21 paddlers already were accomplished at launching, even from a small site. Once everyone was on the water, in the small cove, we paddled under a culvert and out into Brome Lake proper. A very choppy half mile paddle brought us to a bridge marking the entrance to Quilliams Natural Reserve.
Due to the wind and chop on the lake our group straggled into Quilliams Natural Reserve in fits and starts. Passing under the bridge into the marsh, our paddling world transformed from big waves and whitecaps into a serene and gentle environment with great blue herons, black ducks, and kingfishers.
Paddling deeper into the marsh, we spotted turtles occasionally sunning themselves on logs. After about 2 miles the water becomes very shallow and we paused for a snack break before heading back to the lake.
Reentering Brome Lake, the wind seemed heavier resulting in a difficult slog back to Tiffany Park. Once off the water we made two stops on the way back to the Outdoor Lodge. The first stop, the small but beautiful village of Knowlton.
Founded in 1802 by British loyalists from the New England states, Knowlton was originally called Coldbrook after the small stream that runs through the center of town. Beautiful flowers now decorate a bridge over that small stream.
Knowlton is also the home of Louise Penny, famous author of the Inspector Gamache mysteries. We visited Brome Lake Books where Penny usually releases her latest works of fiction, and purchased The Beautiful Mystery signed by the author. This book in the mystery series takes place at a fictional monastery in Quebec heavily modeled after our next stop: the Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, a beautiful Benedictine Monastery on the shores of Lake Memphremagog.
Beautiful inside and out, upon entering the Monastery one walks down a long brick hallway with informational plaques recounting the history of the Abbey. At the end of the hallway is the well-lit chapel where services are held daily with the monks chanting.However, our favorite stop on this tour was the large gift shop in the basement. The monks sell different types of cheese made by the monastery and dark chocolate blueberry bark (fresh wild blueberries dipped in rich dark chocolate).
After the monastery stop we returned to the Outdoor Lodge to enjoy another wonderful dinner, and an after dinner program presented by our guide Niels. Niels shared slides of a recent trip he took to explore the maritime province of Newfoundland, and a kayaking trip crossing from Stockholm to Helsinki. The pictures taken while kayaking through high seas truly astounded us.
Stayed tuned for our third post in this series: Willoughby Lake, Vermont