CowansvilleCowansville, Qué, Town, pop 12 182 (2006c), 12 032 (2001c), inc 1931. Cowansville is located on the southern fork of Rivière Yamaska in the EASTERN TOWNSHIPS of Québec. Its earlier names where Nelsonville and Churchville, before it was finally named after Scotsman Peter Cowan, the area's first postmaster, storekeeper and sheriff. It was originally settled by LOYALISTS, the first was Captain Jacob Ruiter arriving from New York State in 1798. Two years later he opened a sawmill and a flourmill. Its present population is predominantly French-speaking, with a substantial English-speaking presence.
Cowansville was an agricultural, textile and furniture-making centre until 1940, when it underwent industrial diversification. Situated about 20 km from the US border and 85 km southeast of MONTRÉAL, it has attracted several large companies based in the northern United States and Ontario. Textiles companies continue to be the major employers by far. Other main employers include manufacturers of skis, hockey sticks and consumer plastics; there is also activity in the printing industry. Institut de Cowansville, a federal penitentiary, employs a large professional work force. The town's preserved Victorian architecture and proximity to Mont Brome are enduring year-round tourist attractions.