Hatley's Educational Jewel: the Founding of Charleston Academy

Phyllis Emery Skeats (*Excerpt from Quebec Heritage News)
Alexander Twilight, an early teacher in Hatley. Twilight, who is an icon in his native Vermont, was the first African-American college graduate and the first African-American state legislator. (Photo - QHN

larger_tw_001.jpgReligion and education were two of the primary necessities for immigrants, mostly from New England, who settled in the Hatley region following the opening of the Eastern Townships in 1792. in the late 1790s, several familes settled about a mile or so north of the present village of Hatley; amongst these was the family of Deacon Bond Little. Others came between 1800 and 1810, including the Flanders, Emerys, Rowells, Bacons, and Leavitts.

These early pioneers were very devout and would gather in each other's cabins on Sundays to worship. Later, travelling preachers of various denominations from the United States would stop by to lead a gathering in one of the largest cabins. This method of worship changed in 1817-18 when the Old North Church was built by Reverend Charles Stewart in the early settlement on the North Road. Two new churches followed: one Methodist (now Hatley United) in 1836 and the other Anglican (St. James) in 1829. Both are still functioning today.

Education was more complicated for the homesteaders, who lived great distances from each other. It began with home schooling, with very few books. When the children could gather together, a well-educated parent would teach them. However, in 1816, the Governor of Lower Canada gave permission for a school to be erected in Charleston -- now Hatley...

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The complete version of this article appeared in Quebec Heritage News, Vol. 6, Number 2, Summer 2011. For back issues of Quebec Heritage News, or to order a subscription to this magazine, call QAHN at (819) 564-9595, or at [email protected].