A view of Stanstead, Lower Canada, 1827

I’m working on some longer posts, so I thought you might enjoy this image of a hand-colored lithograph from 1827. It’s a view the village of Kilborn’s Mills, Stanstead, Lower Canada, as seen from the south side of the international border, near Derby Line, Vermont. It’s very likely that the 15- or 16-year-old Jonathan M. Clark would have known this scenery, village, bridge, and border crossing:

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Bouchette, Joseph, Kilborn’s Mills, Stanstead, Lr. Canada & The United States Settlements, Vermt., lithograph with watercolor, by Charles Haghe, London, 1827. Toronto Public Library online collection (link)

Kilborn’s Mills was founded by Charles Kilborn, one of the earliest and most influential settlers in Stanstead (read his bio, here; it’s quite interesting). Kilborn’s Mills was re-named Rock Island sometime in the early- to mid-1800s. The Lower Canada (now Quebec) villages of Rock Island and Stanstead Plain, with the village of Derby Line, Vermont, were long known as les trois villages (the Three Villages). All three villages shared borders. Famously, the 1904 Haskell Free Library and Opera House was built for and is still used by neighbors on both sides of the international border; half of the library is in Rock Island, and half in Derby Line. Library patrons can cross over the international border inside the library but, in our post-9/11 world, they now have to leave the building via the same entrance they arrived.

Today’s hand-colored lithograph is based on an original graphite and watercolor painting by Joseph Bouchette, now in the McCord Museum in Montreal. Our version of the image comes from the digital collections of the Toronto Public Library. A black-and-white version of the drawing appears in Bouchette’s book which—for reasons that will soon be clear—we will briefly refer to as The British Dominions of North America […], Vol. 1, London, 1831. The full title, if you’re interested, is a champion of length and comprehensiveness, even by 19th-century book-title standards (click the image to enlarge and savor the title page and its details):

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Lt. Col. Bouchette was the Surveyor General of Lower Canada, and his book is very useful for anyone that wants to know more about Lower Canada, including the Stanstead area, in the years just preceding Jonathan M. Clark’s migration to New York state in 1831 and enlistment in the U.S. Army in 1833.

One note on the lithograph. If you look at the center of the left and right margins of the print, you’ll see Bouchette’s annotation of the old and new “Province Line,” which is to say the international border between Lower Canada (modern Quebec) and Vermont, at 45° north latitude. So the pedestrians in the foreground are in the USA, heading north out of the town of Derby Line, Orleans County, Vermont. When they cross the bridge over the Barlow (now Tomifobia) River, they will be in Kilborn’s Mills (i.e., Rock Island), Stanstead, Lower Canada.

As we’ll see in future posts, the northern Vermont and Stanstead, L. C., neighbors of the early 1800s cared much more about each other as friends, business and trading partners, and fellow pioneers in the wilderness than they cared about the international border. It’s no surprise, perhaps, that Jonathan M. Clark may have been a bit confused about his national origins.

6 thoughts on “A view of Stanstead, Lower Canada, 1827

  1. Fascinating, Reed. Am betting Nina and Fred visited the library and opera house in Derby, as we did when we were there on the Clark Mystery Trail, first time. They have some old maps and prints on walls. We need to send you! As for where ‘our’ Clarks may have lived, one place may have been near the school Jonathan apparently attended in 1831, just before he left for New York state. But I would not be surprised if he moved around the area.


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