Bedford's already got a lot of history and elements that make it a staple of the Eastern Townships, but waves of people are coming in with new aims and ideas to drive the city’s development and longevity, and make it a radiant place.
Located in the southwestern portion of Brome-Missisquoi, it seems only fitting that Bedford was the region’s kick-off to a tremendous industrial development back in 1804, transforming the town into a major commercial hub—a reputation being carried on by passionate entrepreneurs setting up shop on its streets and building relationships with longtime residents.
Something is brewing
The rich history of the city is undeniable. The moment you start strolling through the tiny streets around Rue de la Rivière, you’ll notice a sample of New England inspiration through Victorian-style houses and centenary churches. Other than its patrimonial footprint, the city is home to a former Exceltor needle factory, recently transformed into the Bedford Lofts, where various artisans and local businesses have decided to open up shop and pursue their passions.
L’Autre Brasserie, the only microbrewery in town, is one of them. It’s the lovechild of four beer enthusiasts who wanted to rally their community together: Kicked off by Louis-Philippe Auger, Jean-Philippe Lahaise, Julie Reinling a little over two years ago, they were joined by Felix Waaub of Le Darling in Montreal.
The group chose the lofts out of a desire to be part of a community and to contribute to the rebirth of Bedford and its surroundings. As for their low-proof beers, their simplicity is what makes them stand out thanks to what Felix calls a “back-to-basics approach” that uses yeast from Belgian and Scandinavian brewing traditions with subtlety and delicacy.
Surrounded by a colorful and eclectic decor, featuring local producers on their shelves to the point where the pub itself become a discovery hub for the region, it’s a warm atmosphere that invites you to linger at the pub, playing board games or admiring the nearby Rivière aux Brochet.
Next door, Distillerie Comont’s tasting room is open to discuss their grain-to-bottle products with the owners who are always excited to share their passion for what they do: Spirits made with local ingredients.
From ceramics to sparkling water
Atelier Tréma decided to move out of the Bedford Lofts in 2019 when its founders Marie-Joëlle Turgeon and Jordan Lentik, both ceramics artists, noticed that the old warehouse across the street was up for sale.
After major renovations, they opened in 2021 as a convivial workshop-coffee-boutique hybrid inspired by the seaside and fishing villages of the Maritimes. You can have a seat in their homespun universe and enjoy cup of Faro coffee and homemade bites before wandering through their collection of kitchenware and accessories. A large antique window offers a direct view on ceramists at work, deepening appreciation for each piece you look at.
Atelier Trema also created Bedford et Cie to make craft sparkling waters. Being very detail oriented, they felt the need to produce their own as opposed to showcasing a big-name brand in their storefront. Distillerie Comont suggested to bottle their concoctions, resulting in a local collaboration born in and inspired by Bedford: Other than the new company’s name, its logo is one of the city’s most iconic heritage locations, the Bedford Water Tower, a structure built in 1915.
Eating up Brome-Missisquoi
Down the street, Raphaëlle Beaulieu-Bastien and Marc Proulx are two Montreal transplants who took on a main street storefront. The couple launched Comptoir Moutarde, a small catering company when moving to Stanbridge East in 2020.
At their counter, the menu’s renewed according to seasonal harvests. Up until recently, food in Bedford was mainly focused on fast food or family meals despite the rich agriculture surrounding the town.
“We wanted to contribute to the diversification of the city’s culinary options by proposing a higher-scale experience focused on local and seasonal products at reasonable prices,” Proulx explains.
Inside this warm yet simple restaurant reflecting the innate charm of Bedford, Raphaëlle and Marc are creating a place to nurture good relationships with everyone across all demographics, and avoid being another trendy place.
Local tattoo artist Mélia Galipeau and the Montreal business consultant Hugo Racine may have different background, but they both shared a passion for Mexican cuisine.
They opened La Cantina in July 2023, a Mexican restaurant bringing a touch of diversity the Townships with the help of Samantha Medellin who relocated to Québec from Mexico two years ago. Together, they’ve refashioned recipes to stay as local as possible through ingredients without distorting the traditional Mexican recipes.
Everything’s got a story here, from a bar countertop fashioned from a remodeled bowling alley lane to recycled furniture and an open door to Mélia’s tattoo shop—maybe some taco and tattoo specials to come?
Who knows, but this place shows how the town is now evolving towards offering wholly new experiences—and it only seems to be just beginning.