Bondville: Brome Lake’s hot vacation spot

By Taylor McClure- Special to Brome County News

To celebrate the Town of Brome Lake’s 50th anniversary, Brome County News (BCN) has been looking to collect historical tidbits and photographs of the seven villages that merged to form the municipality.

Bondville was never its own municipality and it was often considered a part of Knowlton but it was one of the seven villages and hamlets that came to form Brome Lake.

The village was named after Archbishop of Montreal, William Bennett Bond. For many decades, Bond served as a missionary, he visited many regions in Quebec, and he helped set up a number of schools. He was appointed Bishop of Montreal in 1901 and died in 1906.

Since Bondville aligned the shores of Brome Lake, it quickly became a hot vacation spot. Various vacation houses and cottages started appearing around the lake, including the famous Brome Lake House summer resort hotel near Bondville Bay.

The Brome Lake House summer resort was built by John O’Hearn in 1911. He was from Vermont and married Katherine Joyal of Bondville three years before he built the hotel.

It was described as the perfect spot for the hotel by the BCHS in the Eastern Townships Advertiser in 1967 because of the view overlooking Brome Lake and the hills that surrounded it. The hotel was three stories’ high, encompassed by white verandas, and there were 25 rooms and three bathrooms.

There was a dance hall, which was erected later on, and a large dining room with tables for families and boarders. There were three chefs in the kitchen, who used fresh fruits and vegetables from the hotels’ garden to feed guests, and one caretaker.

There was also a boathouse with boats available for guests to take out on the lake.

O’hearn had a three-seater vehicle and horses to transport guests to and from the Foster and Knowlton Stations. Hayrides into Knowlton became popular amongst guests.

One its busiest weekends, the hotel was accommodating close to 100 guests and it attracted people from the big cities because of its peaceful environment.

The O’hearn’ lived in the hotel all year round and in the winter the resort became a hot spot for social gatherings. Local groups held dances and suppers in the dance hall. Apparently, people came from all over the region for these dances despite the tough road conditions during the winter to feel the music being provided by local musicians.

The resort experienced a fire in 1923 and the O’hearn’ moved to a farm. They decided to renovate the farmhouse to continue provide a boarding space to visitors to the area. They renamed it the Brome Lake Lodge.

In the 1930s, they converted the barn into a dance hall called Chick Wick, a popular place where would go dancing on summer evenings.

The O’hearn’ sold out in the middle of the 1940s and they eventually bought a house in Foster.

The Brome Lake Lodge house eventually became known as the Au Joli Vent which still stands today as the popular Auberge du Joli Vent.

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