Saddlebag Preachers of the Eastern Townships
Between 1798 and 1812, American circuit riders, or saddlebag preachers, travelled to Quebec’s Eastern Townships to serve the religious needs of the area’s settlers. Many of those settlers were Loyalists from New England, Pennsylvania and other states who had come to Canada following the American Revolution.
Most of the saddlebag preachers were Baptist, Wesleyan Methodist or Congregationalist ministers. During the summer months, they would criss-cross the villages and hamlets of Compton, Sherbrooke, Richmond, Shefford, Brome and Missisquoi counties, as well as the Upper Richelieu River Valley (St. John’s County, or St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) and the Chateauguay-Huntingdon region.
In September or October, they would go back to their own churches in Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts. There, they deposited the books in which they had record marriages and baptisms during their travels. Today, however, these books seem to have vanished.
In the following compilation, Montreal researcher Jacques Gagné has put together whatever information he could find about the circuit riders and their home churches. Claire Lindell has edited this compilation.
If you know anything about any of the missing records, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.