Founded by pioneers from New England in the 1790s, Stanstead is truly one of the most interesting towns in the Eastern Townships. At first, Stanstead was lost in the sticks…a haven for smugglers and bootleggers. But the situation improved with the establishment of a customs station in 1821, the first in the Eastern Townships. Stanstead grew in importance and became the first Canadian stop for the stagecoach that ran from Boston to Quebec City.
The bank, county seat, education, railroad, factories and granite industry all contributed significantly in Stanstead’s development. Stanstead still keeps a remnant of its hay day, in the form of numerous historical buildings and beautiful Victorian homes.
Dufferin Street, in the Stanstead sector, has been referred to as an « outdoor museum.» Magnificent homes line this street and bear witness to the New England roots of the town’s founders. Carrollcroft (1859), former home of Charles Colby, is now home to the Colby-Curtis Museum.
The historical legacy of the three villages now forming the Town of Stanstead is deep and rich. In order to better appreciate the whole of what Stantead has to offer, a visit on foot or bicycle is a must.
First Four Mayors
Silas Horton Dickerson was the first mayor of Stanstead Plain. The first printer in the Eastern Townships, he established himself in Stanstead in 1823. He published the first newspapers in the region: the British Colonist and the St. Francis Gazette.
Son of Horace Stewart and Catherine Hinmin Stewart, Rufus Porter Stewart was born in Beebe Plain January 1836. Very little is known of this man. Trader by profession, Mr. Stewart became mayor of Beebe Plain when the village was incorporated in 1873. He died on March 5, 1879, in New Hampshire, and was buried at the Beebe Cemetery.
Born on April 3, 1834, Charles Kathan became, after finishing his studies, clerk for the Haskell store in Rock Island. In 1866, following the death of Mr. Haskell, he became the business owner. He also held various other prestigious positions: director of the Eastern Townships Bank, Commissioner of the Supreme Court and Mayor of Rock Island when the municipality was created in 1892.
Native of Rock Island, Albert Simoneau spent his life in civil service as a customs officer, municipal counsellor and mayor of Rock Island. In 1995, when the villages of Beebe, Rock Island and Stanstead Plain united, he was named mayor of the new municipality, the Town of Stanstead. Mr. Simoneau was also very community-minded and helped organize various athletic organizations in the region.