Sherbrooke, Quebec, is located at the juncture of the St. Francis and Magog Rivers in the heart of the Eastern Townships, 150 kilometres from Montreal. The aboriginal Abenaki people nicknamed the area “Grand Forks” (Ktineketolekwac). A steep gorge on the Magog River provided a natural site for industry, and the town prospered and grew from the time a flour mill and sawmill were built there in 1801. The city takes its name from Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, who was Governor General of Canada from 1816 to 1818. Sherbrooke was selected to host the 2013 Canada Games, an Olympics-style competition held every two years.
The Eastern Townships’ regional capital and largest city encompasses six boroughs, each offering something of interest for Sherbrooke tourists.
The Jacques-Cartier and Mont-Bellevue boroughs comprise the city centre and are separated by the picturesque Magog River Gorge, Sherbrooke’s premier attraction. The gorge is the site of Quebec’s oldest hydroelectric station, still in operation. Several museums are located near the gorge, including Société d’Histoire, Musée de la Nature and Sciences, and Musée des Beaux-Arts de Sherbrooke. For a spectacular view of the gorge, take the Secteur Paton-Frontenac path around the river. When darkness falls, the walls of this natural wonder are illuminated along the Promenade des Rapids, a 2-kilometre footpath that links Lac des Nations to the city center. Enter the footpath near Musée de la Nature and Sciences or next to Musée des Beaux-Arts de Sherbrooke.
Mont-Bellevue’s Marché de la Gare on the south side of Lac des Nations is the starting point of an unforgettable sightseeing adventure for Sherbrooke tourists. Climb aboard the luxurious Orford Express for a three-hour rail tour. The train has three restaurant-coach cars where passengers dine on gourmet meals while enjoying the Eastern Townships’ scenic vistas.
Stunning scenery and four-seasons’ recreation are attractions in Sherbrooke’s Rock-Forest-Saint-Elie-Deauville borough, west of downtown. André Nadeau outdoor recreation area offers myriad trails for hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and sledders. There are also three ice rinks. Cyclists on the Grandes-Fourches cycling network pass through this area along the 126-kilometre trail that circles Sherbrooke. The dense woods around the park are perfect for wilderness camping and boast 11 kilometres of marked trails.
Bird watchers and nature lovers can head to the borough of Fleurimont, east of downtown. Marais Réal-D.-Carbonneau offers guided tours of the flora and fauna that inhabit this marshy preserve. Fleurimont is also a favourite wine destination. Stop at Vignoble la Halte des Pèlerins for a tasting.
In the borough of Brompton, north of downtown, Maison des Arts et de la Culture de Brompton welcomes art lovers to its gallery and heritage site. From mid June to mid August, artists, landscape designers and horticulturists create artistic gardens in the Parc de la Rive along the St. Francis River.
Lennoxville, Sherbrooke’s most southern borough, is home to Bishop’s University, one of only three Quebec universities that provide classes in English; L’Université de Sherbrooke in Mont-Bellevue offers its curriculum strictly in French.