Cornwall – Ontario

Cornwall is about a half hour drive from the border of the Quebec province.  In fact, it is 120km (75miles) from Montreal and 100km (62miles) from Ottawa.

As per other upstream sectors, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain stopped in “Cornwall” where First Nation communities were already settled.  The development of the region was a bit shy due to its location. The turbulent water was a challenge but that had now been controlled.

Cornwall was at the limit of Upper and Lower Canada when the colonies defended American borders. The British offered land as a mark of appreciation.  Cornwall was originally a French colony that had intensive growth under the British new territories. In this complex situation, where people wanted peace and subsistence, a unique community was created. The population was a mix of French, British, American and First Nations. It was a community of acceptance, of differences and collaborations.

Cornwall is a combination of cultural and linguistic background.  Conditions of the early years favored the most urgent needs and all worked at collective tasks and despite the wealthiest, to survive, they helped and supported one another.

Maybe because of the recognized collaborative work of all and the diversity of the community, Upper Canada was one of the selected few territories in America to abolish slavery prior to other regions. Mr. John Baker, the last to be born into slavery in Canada, died in Cornwall in 1871.

The town was the first incorporated municipality in the British colony of Upper Canada in 1834 and became a city in 1945.

In 1834, Cornwall was named after the Duke of Cornwall. Royal visit information and photos are presented at the museum.  Its original name was New Johnstown.

Many industrial enterprises settled in Cornwall. Cotton and textile companies were at an earlier time. Once a train station was built in 1898, it again encouraged the development of the industrial center. Today, an important distribution center employs many locals.

In the 1950’s, to control the tumultuous water of the St.Lawrence River, a Seaway and a dam were constructed.  The dam joins the Canadian and American side to create power and the Seaway was built to accommodate large vessels to navigate through locks and canals from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. This development has created important permanent change in Cornwall. The dam is within the municipality limits.  In 1958, part of the village and also other villages were permanently flooded. Residents lost their homes, the railway tracks had to be moved and the environment was also impacted.


Information center and free museum

Our first stop of the day was Cornwall. We stopped by the Lamoureux Park and noticed the information center. To our surprise, it was not only an information center but a museum. Some guides were passionate and it was pleasing to be presented to the region, the history and the museum.

The museum is the actual Wood’s family house built in 1840 but it was moved to this location and exhibits historical elements, household articles, furniture, pictures and souvenirs from the Queen’s 1958 visit.