Paddling through local history

By Gordon Lambie

As people across Quebec take their summer vacationing plans a little closer to home, the Mercedes Travel Agency and The Sherbrooke History Museum have teamed up to launch a new kayaking circuit aimed at offering a look at how the modern city has been shaped by its waterways.
Entitled “Sherb-histoire en kayak,” the activity will take participants on a two to three-hour tour of Lac des Nations and a part of the Magog River with stops along the way to discuss notable landmarks from Sherbrooke’s industrial and cultural past.
“Normally we plan trips around the world, but now the trips are more local,” said David Martel, director of the travel agency, explaining that while this and other similar local projects have been in the works for the past three years or so, the “staycation” summer of 2020 moved the launch timeline up significantly. Martel explained that the idea first came up in the form of offering kayak rental out of the property he and his wife own along the north shore of Lac des Nations, with the history element joining on soon after.
“We already had a walking tour called Sherb-histoire, focused on sharing local history on foot,” he said adding that after the kayak rental started, people in the neighbourhood came and shared stories with the couple of a similar business which had occupied the same space many years before.
“When David approached us we were happy because we are trying to find new ways for people to get to know the history of the area from different points of view, and to do that it is important to have different partnerships,” said David Lacoste, Executive Director of the Sherbrooke History Museum, explaining that although they have formed several such partnerships with the city and local organizations, agreements with private businesses have been rare to date. “This is a first step for us.”
Lacoste noted that the activity fits very well into the museum’s mandate to bring the history of the community but added that it will also likely prove popular just because of the degree to which people are looking for close, easy activities to fill their time.
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