The impacts of the virus continue to impact life in the Eastern Townships.

Currently, The Eastern Townships are labelled as “zone orange,” which for non-Quebecer’s means that the region is in the third stage of a four stage COVID-19 alert system. Gatherings are permitted but only with a limited number of people and restaurants/bars can be open with limitations. Unfortunately, neighbouring regions to the north (Montreal, Quebec City, and the Chaudière-Appalaches region) moved into “zone red,” the highest level of the four stage alerts. Zone red prohibits restaurants and bars to be open, no private gatherings are allowed, and people are asked to limit contact with others for twenty-eight days.

While the Eastern Townships are still in zone orange, which allows for more freedom, Montreal is only just over an hour away. Many of the city’s residents are seasonal residents of the many towns that create the townships. During the first wave of the pandemic most, if not all, of the city folk flocked to their more comfortable country cottages. This migration of city dwellers brought a greater potential for viral spread to a vulnerable population known as the oldest (age wise) postal code in Canada.

Townships see event cancellations 

With new regulations being implemented once again, many events that were scheduled are having to cancel. This includes Soirées Musicales au Vignoble Val Caudalies (winery located in Dunham, Quebec) organized by Kiki.co. Kiki.co, founded by Kristine Mansuy, is a local business in Bromont, Quebec that offers wine consulting, tastings, and events. The Eastern Townships host a historic wine route (The Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route) traversing 140 km and twenty wineries. These twenty wineries are not only some of the oldest in Quebec, but they produce 60 per cent of the provinces local wine. Part of Kiki.co’s mission is to promote local wine businesses by inviting people to come to a tasting while experiencing the culture and supporting local performers. Due to the effects of the global pandemic, Mansuy has cancelled the remaining events celebrating the harvest.

“Our events were being hosted safely by suggesting patrons wear masks and our location being outside, but since our clientele is older they were nervous to come,” explained Mansuy.

The first of two events hosted at Vignoble Val Caudalies was on Sept. 26, 2020 which happened to be the day the Quebec Government re-announced new stricter restrictions.

“In total we sold 50+ tickets for that night and only 30 people attended,” Mansuy mentioned.

Due to the low turnout the remaining events were cancelled.

“It is for the best interest of everyone involved. It would have been a fun and safe event, but people are just scared to come,” said Mansuy. “It was a time to celebrate the local harvest, encourage people to support local producers and businesses, indulge in local food, and listen to local musicians.”

Although very disappointed, she completely understood the need to cancel.

“I will be hosting some online events and tastings because there is lots of demand for those, so keep checking my website for more information,”  said Mansuy.

2020 harvest

In related news, the grape harvest was very successful this year and is still not finished. Farmers were able to cultivate several tons of grapes to be used in the creation of wine that will be ready for consummation in February 2021. It was a very warm summer season for the Eastern Townships region, however, it was cut short by a snap of overnight frost a few weeks ago. For now restrict social gatherings, stay safe, and wear a mask.

For more information about Kiki.co, please visit: https://kikico.ca/en/.

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