Cowansville' economy is based on the industrial sector, in particular textiles. There is also a hospital, Brome-Missisquoi-Perkins, a municipal court, a federal penitentiary, and a Nature Centre close to Davignon Lake.
Cowansville's commercial activity has blossomed mainly because of its proximity to a major freeway, Autoroute 10, and the Eastern Townships ski resort region.
Jacob Ruiter was the first person to settle on the current site of Cowansville. In 1800 he built a flour mill, and then a saw mill. In 1805, Ruiter named the small town Nelsonville, in honour of British admiral, Lord Horatio Nelson, who was killed in the naval Battle of Trafalgar.
Peter Cowan, a merchant from Montreal, settled in the area in 1836 and become postmaster in 1841. In order to avoid the mail being sent inadvertently to another city named Nelsonville, close to Hamilton in Upper Canada, he decided to change its name.
During the 1870s, the construction of the South Eastern Railway linking Montreal to Cowansville and the opening of the first bank, the Eastern Townships Bank, contributed to the expansion of the small city, which allowed many businesses settle in the area.
From Montreal: take Autoroute 10.
Cowansville is 20 km (12 mi) north of the U.S. border.
- LimoCar. Two buses a week from Montreal, transfer in Ange-Gardien (1 hr 40 min, $23-26).
- Taxi Cowansville +1 450-263-2222
- Taxi AB +1 450-263-2020
- Bruck Museum (Musee Bruck), 225 Main Street, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. June: Sa Su 10:00-16:00; Jul Aug: daily 10:00-17:00; Sep to mid-Oct The F 12:00-16:00, Sa Su 10:00-16:00; mid-Oct to May: Th-Sa 12:00-16:00. Historical photographs of Cowansville, sculptures and paintings.
- Play golf at its golf club.
- La Route des Vins (The Wine Route). 22 vineyards, 4 breathtaking road trips, 4 cycling routes for all levels, 21 restaurants.
- Nature Center, 225 Chemin de la Plage. Swimming, paddle boating, paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, water park, nature trail, outdoor gym with many different machines, a playground for the kids, bocceball. Washrooms and a small cafe for snacks.
- Bromont Ski Area, 150 Rue Champlain, Bromont (13 km from Cowansville). A year-round recreational area with skiing, evening skiing, water park, mountain biking and multiuse trails. It has the largest lit skiable area in North America, with 450 acres of skiable terrain, 142 trails, including 32 glades and 102 lit trails, spread over 7 hillslides. 9 chairlifts and more than 1275 snow guns, so conditions are guaranteed. In the summer, its waterpark offers 25 aquatic and other attractions, including a heated wave pool measuring almost 24,000 ft² (2,200 m2), rafting rivers, kilometres of water slides, and mountain alpine luges. From May to October, it offers the largest mountain biking area in Eastern Canada, with 24 downhill runs for all levels. The mountain also offers close to 40 km of multiuse trails for hiking, trail running, enduro or cross-country.
There are shops along rue Principale east of rue Albert.
- [dead link] L'Archipel, 406 Principale, ☏ . Tu Su 09:00-15:00, W-Sa 09:00-21:00. A healthy menu for the body and mind, using local and organic foods as often as possible. It offers a vegetarian and vegan menu with gluten-free options, as well as a rotating menu.
- Restaurant il Castello, 512 Rue Principale, ☏ . Tu-F 11:30-14:00, Tu-Sa 17:00-21:00. Italian restaurant. Seats 75 inside, 44 on the terrace.
- Rendez Vous Cafe, 140 Rue Principal, ☏ . Sa Su 10:00 - 22:00, M-F 08:30 - 22:00. Asian meals, Italian means coffee, beer.
- Vignoble la Grenouille, 434 Plouffe Road, ☏ . By appointment. Wine tastings, pick your own table grapes in season.
- Pub Principal, 126 rue principale. Tu W 11:00 - 22:00, Th 11:00 - 23:45, F Sa 11:00 - 03:00.
- Auberge des Carrefours, 111 Boulevard Jean-Jacques-Bertrand, ☏ , toll-free: . Basic rooms with free WiFi, relaxed dining & function rooms for 350 people. Free breakfast. From $80.
- Manoir Sweetsburg-Auberge Victorienne, 795 Rue Principale, ☏ . Victorian Inn. From $120.