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The back story to the Cider Mills

Our family first arrived in the township of Bristol, then a frontier of agricultural settlement, in the 1840s. Since that time, we have been active in the community as farmers, teachers, and entrepreneurs. In 2003, we saw an opportunity in a new industry that would combine all of our talents: agritourism built around Western Quebec’s first cidery, based at the historic Coronation Hall.

Coronation Hall was a dance hall. It was established by the MacDougall family in the 1930s, and named to celebrate the coronation of King George VI. Bristol was already then a tourist destination, welcoming visitors primarily from the Montreal area, who arrived by train. Over the years, it saw many dances, wedding receptions and other parties and was a central part of the community’s social life. By the 1960s, most tourists had cars, and were travelling further and further afield, and so the dance hall closed down. Over the next thirty odd years, the hall was used for storage, neglected and forgotten by the wider community.

In early 2003, Third Line Orchards was established by Greg and Ronda Graham with the help of their families at the McJanet Farm – a farm that had once belonged to a branch of our family, which was later purchased by the Wiggins family, and then for many years was the farm of George Russell. We then started to look for a location where we would process the apples into high quality sweet, sparkling, and ice ciders, and could receive visitors. We learned that Coronation Hall was available, and we were able to acquire it.

At that point, ‘Cidrerie Coronation Hall Cider Mills’ was born as a family corporation. Brothers Greg, Shawn, and Gordon each had extensive experience working in historical living history museums, as well as being experienced teachers and educators, and could see immediately that Coronation Hall would be an excellent base for exploring with visitors the agricultural and cultural heritage of Bristol township (Shawn had earlier completed a heritage inventory of Bristol). Garry and Norma (their parents) both had successful business experience building up and running first the Quyon Feed Mill and later Petro Pontiac, and so provide the necessary business acumen.

The first step was to renovate in a historically sensitive manner Coronation Hall. This process is still underway, but we were successfully launched in the Fall of 2008, with the new cider mill and tea room. The old dance hall has been used to host art exhibitions, lectures and tours, theatre and yes, even dances!

Our first product was sweet apple cider, followed by raspberry apple sweet cider, pies, jams, jellies, baked treats, and finally, our English-style (alcoholic) cider - 'Bristol'.

Come join us as we write a new chapter in the history of this fascinating site!