In the days of colonization, the territory between the British colonies and the French seigniories was long recognized as Native American land. Commonly referred to as a buffer zone, this area attracted very few of New France’s settlers.

Following their defeat in the Seven Years War, France ceded New France to Britain in 1763. Just a few years later, in 1775, the taxes levied by the British along with their attempts to limit the colonization of the American West angered English settlers from the United States, which ultimately led to the War of American Independence. Thousands of American Loyalists in support of Britain enlisted in the ranks of the British Army. After the American victory in 1783, around 50,000 Loyalists came to settle in Canada.

To avoid further friction with the Americans, the British avoided settling the unoccupied border areas, including the area of Huntingdon, which explains why the settling of these territories was delayed by several years.

In addition this, very few of these formerly American Loyalists would settle on unoccupied land in the St. Lawrence Valley between lordships and the new Canadian border. Authorities at the time granted new political refugees lands of 200 to 1,200 acres per family, farm implements, clothing and food. This vast territory was therefore arbitrarily divided into townships (“cantons”) in 1792, in accordance to the Royal Proclamation of 1791.

During this same period, Lower Canada was divided into judicial districts, which were further divided into counties. Each county seat had to have its own courthouse to accommodate the county court and a prison. It was at this time that the county of Huntingdon was established. Huntingdon County takes its name from the city and historic county of the same name in south-central England: Huntingdon, Huntingdonshire.

Huntingdon is the only county in the St. Lawrence Valley to be entirely divided into cantons, counting seven in total. From east to west it is comprised of the cantons of Hemmingford, Havelock, Franklin, Hinchinbrooke, Elgin, Godmanchester and Dundee. The capital, Huntingdon, is located on the border between Hinchinbrooke and Godmanchester.

The township of Hinchinbrooke was established in 1799, while the township of Godmanchester came to be in 1811. Between these two townships there was a village once known as Long Rapids. In 1824 its original name was changed to Bowron Village, or Bowronville, in honour of then current Lands Agent, William Bowron. It wasn’t until 1825 that the town’s name was changed to that of the town of Huntingdon. Thereafter, the name was taken to refer to a post office opened in the municipality in 1830. With its detachment from the Townships of Godmanchester of Hinchinbrooke , the Village of Huntingdon was officially created on the 10th of September 1848. Its status was later changed to that of City in 1921.

The first inhabitants of Huntingdon were for the most part settlers who immigrated from Scotland, Ireland and Great Britain, as well as former American soldiers who had been granted land by King George III. Many of these former soldiers sold their land to the Ellice family without ever having lived there.

In 1821, a well-trodden route between the St. Lawrence River and the present day site of Huntingdon attracted the likes of millers, wheelwrights, blacksmiths and shoemakers. Among them was English immigrant William Bowron who would settle here in 1823 and construct a large water mill. Shortly after Bowron’s arrival, a bridge between Hinchinbrooke and Godmanchester and was built near the mill. In 1825, the area’s first school was built and Mr. Geo. Davis was appointed the first teaching position. Before long, several shops and homes were built close to the school and the bridge. Indeed, because of his mill and the development of the area that followed, Bowron is now considered to be one of the most important founders of Huntingdon. In fact, the current F.-Cleyn Street once bore his name.

In 1837, Huntingdon became the scene of one of the major protests of the Patriot movement that stood across Lower Canada. These protests were intended to expose the discrimination that prevailed in British colonial government and recall the rights of the people to govern themselves.

Cénotaphe à la commémoration de nos soldats durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale dans le parc Prince-Arthur
Cenotaph to commemorate our soldiers during World War II in Prince Arthur Park

The Huntingdon County building was erected from 1859 to 1860 to accommodate a county courthouse and registrar. The plans of the building were the work of architect John James Browne (1837-1893) and date from 1858. The construction of the Huntingdon County building was part of the sanctioned Judicature Act of 1857, and commemorates the creation of Huntingdon County.

Food exports experienced significant growth during the American Civil War (1861-1865), thereby creating an increased demand for farm equipment. Daniel Boyd & Co. made hay mowers, threshers powered by horses and various tools. In 1863 22 year-old Scotsman Robert Sellars, who had worked for the Toronto Globe, settled in Huntingdon and founded The Gleaner, a weekly newspaper that is still in print today.

During the Fenian Raids of 27 May 1870, the 69th Regiment (South Lincolnshire) came into action with the Canadian Volunteers of the 50th Battalion (Huntingdon Borderers) and artillery volunteers of Montreal to repel a Fenian incursion across the border in Trout River. The Fenians were defeated and forced to return to Vermont. The city of Huntingdon has hosted various military troops throughout history and has remained central to the military history of the region. In fact, because of Huntingdon’s rich military involvement, a training camp was established on the site of Cleyn & Tinker, Road 202 up until the Korean War in the 1950s.

The first railroad came through in 1883 at the Gare du grand Tronc Station, where the town’s first phone was installed in 1884. In 1886 the Huntingdon Organ Co. built a plant that would later house the Huntingdon Mills. Shortly after the Eastern Townships Bank opened in 1887, followed by the Huntingdon County Bank.

In other respects the contribution of the English and Scottish communities remains very important for the city of Huntingdon, and can still be felt with the presence of the Anglican and Presbyterian churches as well as the United Church of Canada. The Catholic parish of St. Joseph, located on the municipal areas of Huntingdon and Godmanchester, was founded in 1852 before being constructed in 1863. Although the term Huntingdonnais was formally adopted in 1986 by the provincial government to designate the inhabitants of Huntingdon, the nickname Baronnes continues to be used. This nickname is thought to be a transformation of Huntingdon’s earliest moniker Bowron’s Village.

The textile industry

Cleyn & Tinker

Huntingdon’s industrial development took place during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, notably through the progress of several businesses and industries such as textile manufacturers. During the Great Depression that resulted from the 1929 stock market crash, various British manufacturers turned to Canada for the development of a new market. Hiram Leach, owner of a small textile factory in Bradford, Yorkshire, believed Huntingdon to be the ideal place to establish a new business. Hiram Leach & Sons (Canada) then moved into the abandoned factory near Walker Boyd Foundry Bridge. By 1936, the plant was thriving under the name of Leach Textiles Inc. In 1940, former director at Leach, Alec Fawcett, started his own factory (Fawcett and Grant) on Wellington Street with his partner Wilfred Grant.

World War II brought an abundance of contracts to Huntingdon’s textile plants. In 1953, Fawcett and Grant was acquired by François Cleyn, who had already bought out Leach Textiles Inc. In 1962 the Cleyn and Tinker family bought all the textile companies of the region and merged under the name of Cleyn & Tinker Ltd. Each plant received a number corresponding to their order in the manufacturing cycle. In 1988, the Tinker and Cleyn families sold the company to US investors Innocan, who decided to keep the name Cleyn & Tinker. In 2000, a new group of investors took control of the company, which is now operated under the leadership of President Jonathan Hurstfield-Meyer. In December of 2004, the company was sold once again to Burlington Mills who announced the permanent closure of Cleyn & Tinker factories in Huntingdon, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs for workers in the Huntingdon region.

Huntingdon Mills

At the beginning of the Second World War, the Ruskies family, owners of textile factories in Poland and Hungary, left their homeland to settle in Canada. Shortly after their arrival in 1939, they opened a textile factory in Huntingdon. Their company expanded so well that synthetic fibres eventually replaced the production of woollen clothing. In 1965, the company took the name of Huntingdon Mills. In 1992, the company was sold to an investor group in Montreal operating under the chairmanship of David Turner, who then resold the company to American investors who declared bankruptcy in December 2004. The closure of the plant would result in the loss of over 200 jobs.


The Town of Huntingdon is located on the banks of the Châteauguay River in Montérégie, 60 km southwest of Montreal.

Visitors and residents alike can fully enjoy an array of local produce at the Farmer’s Market, located in the heart of Huntingdon every Saturday morning from May to October. Alfred Langevin Cultural Hall showcases the works of various local artists throughout the year.

Several public buildings, churches and houses were built in Edwardian and Victorian styles.

A variety of renowned companies call Huntingdon their hometown. Among them are the Grant Family Bakery, recognized across Canada for their fruitcakes, breads and doughnuts. This bakery has been part of the community for nearly 65 years.

Several local restaurants offer varied cuisine providing culinary experiences to satisfy all tastes. Huntingdon even has a butcher shop that specializes in organic meat.

Many local merchants and business owners have set up shop in Huntingdon such as jewellers, bulk and health food stores, florists, gift shops, sales and service products and experts in IT, an antique dealer, hairdressers, beauticians, massage therapists, dentists, opticians, chiropractors, lawyers, notaries and more! In short, Huntingdon has everything you want in a big city but in the charm of a small town surrounded by a majestic river! You will also find two primary schools, a secondary school and a training center for adults. In addition, its citizens have five (5) retirement homes, a childcare centre, nine (9) family daycares and a family resource centre at their disposal.

The local arena is home to figure skating and hockey for all the region’s residents. During the winter, the City provides areas for outdoor activities such as skating in Prince Arthur Park.

The local swimming pool, tennis courts and library are also among the numerous services offered by the City. Indeed, the presence of various associations makes our small community a better place in which to live.

Here are some of the associations that Huntingdon has to offer:

  • Rotary Club
  • Optimist Club
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Royal Canadian Legion
  • Huntingdon Curling Club
  • Senior Citizens’ Club
  • Catholic Women’s League
  • Les Femmes Chrétiennes
  • Les Filles d’Isabelle
  • The Ladies Auxiliary of the Huntingdon County Hospital
  • Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society
  • Agricultural Society of Huntingdon
  • Huntingdon Figure Skating Club

Four churches are located on the territory of the City allowing religious communities to practice according to their respective beliefs: Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and Protestant.

A medical clinic, a CLSC and a long-term care hospital are established in the community allowing residents to benefit from high-quality health care services. The C.L.D. and M.R.C. Haut-Saint-Laurent and the Huntingdon local employment center are also located on the territory of the municipality.

Come and explore the beauty and tranquility of the City of Huntingdon! We are certain that you will be excited to come back!