On a river that has nourished lives and livelihoods for countless generations, you’ll find an angler’s paradise and Sherbrooke Village, where time stands still.
If you’ve ever wanted to step back in time and experience life in the 1800s, take a trip to Sherbrooke Village. The village contains approximately 80 homes and buildings that were built over a 50 year period, starting in 1860. Costumed interpreters recreate life as it was during Sherbrooke’s golden years, working in mills and blacksmiths, making pottery and churning butter, and going to church and school.
Sherbrooke Village is also popular with kids of all ages, giving them the opportunity to tour the village by ox cart, pet the farm animals and get their pictures taken in period costume. With a break for a homemade, traditional lunch at the village’s What Cheer Tea Room, your family could easily make a day exploring Sherbrooke Village.
History of Sherbrooke, Nova Scotia
The town of Sherbrooke owes its existence to the nearby St. Mary’s River. At 250 kilometers in length, it’s one of Nova Scotia’s longest and most powerful rivers, and home to a wide variety of fish, including the Atlantic Salmon. When French explorer Samuel de Champlain discovered the river in the early 1600s, he named it Rivère Isle Verte because of the green island at its mouth. Years later, a French trader by the name of La Giraudiere assumed settling rights to the area and renamed the river Sainte Marie – St. Mary’s River. La Giraudiere would build his settlement on a point of land where the river became impassable for ships – the same site that would eventually become the town of Sherbrooke.
At this time Nova Scotia was a battleground between the French and English empires, with lands changing hands by both force and treaty. In 1669, an English expedition overtook La Giraudiere’s fortified settlement, burning it to the ground and establishing an English fort in its place. By 1815, a burgeoning settlement had sprung up along the river and the English named it Sherbrooke, in honour of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia at the time.
Through farming, fishing and lumber mills, the village flourished and became a trading port for goods that were shipped to British and West Indian markets. Then, in 1861, gold was discovered nearby and Sherbrooke’s fortunes flushed with gold fever. For two decades, the town swelled with those looking to make their fortune, and Sherbrooke entered what would quite literally be its golden years.
By the time the rush was over, the Age of Sail was drawing to a close and Sherbrooke’s lumber mills began to fall silent. Throughout the 20th century, Sherbrooke’s economy became even more closely tied to the St. Mary’s River, drawing anglers from far and wide as they sought to land a record-breaking salmon.
Today, the town’s golden age might be long past but it is certainly not forgotten. Historic Sherbrooke Village – carefully preserved homes and businesses from the mid-19th century that are now a village-sized part of the Nova Scotia Museum – gives visitors from around the world the opportunity to experience life during the town’s heyday and literally walk through a vibrant time in the province’s history.
Sherbrooke Hotels and Accomodations
Sherbrooke is home to several bed and breakfasts and a motel along with a number of cottages and campgrounds along the picturesque St. Mary’s River. Just 20 minutes down the road in Liscombe Mills, you’ll find more riverfront accommodations at Liscombe Lodge, which includes chalets, cottages and a main lodge that all overlook the Liscombe River. Find a list of places to stay in Sherbrooke.
Sherbrooke Restaurants and Nearby Places to Eat
In addition to dining at your bed and breakfast or inn, Sherbrooke offers a few other dining options, all located in the heart of town. Find a list of places to eat in Sherbrooke.
Things to do in Sherbrooke
The nearby St. Mary’s River has attracted people to its shores for hundreds of years. The most popular reason is to fish its waters, as the river is an important spawning route for Atlantic Salmon. Every summer, the salmon can be seen swimming and leaping through white water as they head upriver to spawn. There are popular fishing spots along the river but you can also hire a local guide to take you to specific pools along the river. The area around Sherbrooke is also heavily wooded and offers visitors opportunities to hike, bike and, in the winter, cross country ski and snowshoe.