For a time, the hegemony of education in the Eastern Townships was located in Lennoxville, that is, Bishop’s University. But then along came the Université de Sherbrooke.
The only French university in the Estrie area, the Université de Sherbrooke was created out of a need to have a French Catholic university that was in a predominantly Anglophone area, and, well, out of a need for education, period. Unlike the Université de Montréal, Sherbrooke was not an offshoot of Laval, though Sherbrooke did develop its own offshoots in the fullness of time, namely its Longeuil campus (guess where) as well as joint campuses with the Université du Québecs and the “other” UdeM, Université de Moncton in New Brunswick.
Established in 1954, a few years before the Quiet Revolution, Sherbrooke would initially have a religious slant to its education, although with the advent of its religious teachers leaving in the 1960s, this religious slant slowly decreased. Initially only a university with three faculties—Law, Arts and Humanities, and Sciences—the school would welcome 27 future engineers, 60 arts students, 18 future chemists, and 18 future lawyers in their first cohort. Ironically, despite being deeply tied to religious studies, Sherbrooke’s Faculty of Theology would be founded in 1961, after many discussions by Sherbrooke’s archbishop, Monseigneur Georges Cabana. Sherbrooke’s Theology Department remains Catholic, although the rest of the university is more or less secular since the appointment of the school’s first non-religious rector in 1975. Sherbrooke would make the headlines when it offered the first French MBA and Master’s degree in Finance (take that, HEC).
Sherbrooke’s many graduates include former Premiers, Jean Charest (law) and Pierre-Marc Johnson (medicine, his second degree) as well as novelist Dominique Demers and the current rector of the Université de Montréal, Guy Breton (medicine).