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The Energetic Mr. Beach

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In the winter of 2011, Louise Abbott wrote a feature story about Nathan A. Beach (1841-1923), a prominent builder and contractor in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. The article was published in the   Stanstead Historical Society (SHS) Journal in June of 2011.  To obtain a copy, please email the SHS ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or phone them at 819-876-7322.

Below are some excerpts from The Energetic Mr. Beach:

In Derby Line, Vermont, a quiet residential street called Beach intersects Main not far from the United States customs office. Although the street name may mean little to inhabitants nowadays, it commemorates  a man who was once a familiar and forceful presence in the historical Three Villages (Derby Line, Rock Island, and Stanstead) and the Memphremagog region—Nathaniel (Nathan) Allen Beach.

Beach was a contractor and builder non-pareil whose reputation spanned the border as surely as his magnum opus, the Haskell Free Library and Opera House. This distinctive building of granite and yellow brick—designed to serve both Canadian and American patrons—was completed in 1904, when Beach had more than three decades of building experience behind him.



(Photo : Louise Abbott)

In 1864 Beach received what was reportedly his first commission: he constructed a farmhouse for his in-laws on the Magoon Point Road two miles or so south of Georgeville. The MacPhersons occupied the house for generations, gradually making additions and modifications to it.

During the course of his career, Beach occasionally collaborated with architects—the Haskell Free Library and Opera House, for instance, was designed by James Ball of Stanstead and his partner, Gilbert Smith, of Boston. More often, Beach took charge of building design himself and likely drew inspiration from the architectural pattern books and advice manuals that were then popular in the United States. Certainly the gabled roof and gingerbread details of the MacPherson farmhouse reflect the influence of the Romantic, or Picturesque, Style that was favoured by American authors like Andrew Jackson Downing and embodied in homes on New England country estates of the period.



(Photo: Anick Valiquette)

Beach commenced the construction of a house in 1880 on an estate on the southern edge of Georgeville, working from sketches that owner John Murray provided. The house, completed in 1882, had three stories and a basement, a tower on one corner, and twenty rooms. John Murray was a strapping man over six feet tall, and he was tired of stooping in the low-ceilinged cottage where he had previously resided; he called for twelve-foot-high ceilings in his new home. The grand building, painted a salmon colour, was named Dunkeld in honour of the Scottish town from which the ancestors of John Murray’s wife, Isabella MacDuff, had emigrated.


A First-Ever Solo Show in Quebec of Hans Wegner Furniture

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For a glimpse of the vernissage of the Wegner-Jensen show, please visit YouTube.

Studio Georgeville, in collaboration with Mobilier Design Georgeville, hosted a show of the internationally known Danish modern furniture designer  Hans Wegner (1914-2007) in the spring of 2011.

Hans Wegner was one of Denmark's most original modern furniture designers, and this was the first-ever solo show in Quebec of his work. All pieces were for sale and  represented the broad scope of Wegner's furniture, with both classic and hard-to-find pieces being offered. 

Studio Georgeville also displayed new work by  Niels Jensen, who credits Hans Wegner as one of his early inspirations. Wegner was a friend of Niels's late father, architect Kris Krogh Jensen, and Niels grew up surrounded by Wegner furniture. 



Tables by Niels Jensen, Paintings by Anthony Hobbs, Sculpture by Mary Cartmel


Frontier Animal Society

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Louise Abbott produced this short video on YouTube about the    Frontier Animal Society  shelter for abandoned and stray cats and dogs in Ogden, Quebec. It features an interview with the founder of the shelter, Joyce Dekker.


Ice Breakup on the Lake

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sargents bay in late march

Sargent's Bay, Lake Memphremagog, March 2011 (Photo: Louise Abbott)

Lake Memphremagog has long inspired artists. Among them is spoken word performer Kathy Fisher, whose family has inhabited the lakeshore around Ritchie Point and Gibraltar Point for several generations. Kathy's spoken word piece ice ships, which evokes ice breakup on the lake,  won the Spring Fever Spoken Word Poetry competition sponsored by the Calgary International Spoken Word  Festival and the Calgary Herald  in 2010.

Listen to ice ships :

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Kathy Fisher in performance (Photo: Jack Bawden)

If you're interested in hearing more of Kathy's work, you can purchase her CD think of me naked from Studio Georgeville ( or through us here at Rural Route Communications.

Do you know of other painters, sculptors or writers who have found their muse in Lake Memphremagog or in the landscape around it? Please tell us about them! Our email address is

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