Val-des-Sources (formerly Asbestos), Quebec, incorporated as a village in 1899 and as a town in 1937, population 6,786 (2016 census), 7,096 (2011 census). The town of Val-des-Sources is located in the Eastern Townships region, 53 km north of Sherbrooke and 58 km southeast of Drummondville. Originally called Asbestos, the town was named after the mineral mined there from 1881 to 2011. During that time, Asbestos produced much of the world’s supply of the asbestos mineral, which is now banned in many countries because of its negative health effects. Asbestos was renamed Val-des-Sources in December 2020. Val-des-Sources is located on ancestral Abenaki lands. The land is unceded and is considered Indigenous territory.
Before European colonization, the Abenaki inhabited the Eastern Townships region. They partnered with the French in the fur tradeand allied with them against the British. Within a few decades of contact with Europeans, warfare and exposure to diseases had decimated the area’s Abenaki population. British andLoyalist settlement of the Eastern Townships began after the British Conquest of 1760.
Evan Williams, a Welsh miner, discovered an asbestos deposit in 1879 on land owned by CharlesWebb. Charles Webb and William Jeffrey began mining the site in 1881. The British Asbestos and Asbestic Company bought the Jeffrey Mine in 1897. A community grew around the developingmine in the 1890s; it was incorporated as a village in 1899. During the First World War, the mine came under the control of American investors H.W. Johns-Manville Company.Johns-Manville would run the mine until the company’s bankruptcy in 1983.
Since the demise of the Jeffrey Mine, one company, Alliance Magnesium, has worked to extract metals from the tailings (debris) left over from asbestos mining. But the townhas also focused on growth in other industries. These include machining, assembly, metal processing, food processing and eco-friendly materials. Transportationis a longstanding industry in Asbestos, given the town’s proximity to the US border.
In October 2020, a vote was organized among residents of Asbestos to choose between six potential new names for the town. After three rounds of voting, Val-des-Sources received a majority of 51.5 per cent of votes. In December 2020, the town was renamedfrom Asbestos to Val-des-Sources. This was in spite of a petition of around 1,000 signatures opposing the name change.