Locals usually have to drive to the nearby towns of Magog or Sherbrooke to find big-city amenities, although there are smaller stores and cafés in the town which are open year round. Those include Saveurs & Gourmandises (a bakery and pastry shop), Emporium (antiques), The Pomegranate (antiques) LeBaron's Store (food market and gift shop) and The Pilsen Pub, among others. It is also home to many artists and craftspeople, including Naisi LeBaron known locally for her "art naive" paintings of village life in North Hatley and environs.
North Hatley was the setting for the 2003 film Hatley High. Some of its landmarks, including the North Hatley sign, can be seen throughout the movie. However, the bulk of the movie was filmed in Hudson.
Many of the first settlers around North Hatley were United Empire Loyalists, mostly farmers, who left New England in the years following the American Declaration of Independence in 1776. The village owns most of its great houses and particular architecture to its first aristocrats, and mostly Americans from south of the Mason-Dixon Line.