Cornwall celebrating 225 years

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What a fabulous fall day it was! The invitation to the unveiling of The Founders’ Memorial Cairn from the SD&G Historical Society had said to look for the tent adjacent to the Woodhouse, Cornwall Community Museum. But with cars everywhere, I parked at St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre lot, across the way. The historic event on Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009 was well worth the walk. It was clearly a proud day for the organizers.

Located in Lamoureux Park near the children’s splash pad, the Memorial Cairn is an impressive size. The plaque, inscribed in both English and French states: “Cornwall & S.D.G. 1784–2009

An understanding between Mohawk Chief, Thayendanegea (Joseph Brant) and Sir John Johnson led to the settlement of Cornwall and Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry.

On June 6th, 1784, Loyalists camped on this plateau before traveling to their new homes.

Subsequently, Scots, Irish, French Canadians and peoples from all corners of the globe arrived, laying the foundation of today’s multicultural community.”

There was a lot going on that afternoon! Cornwall’s town crier, Wes Libbey, was first to call us together. Several members of the United Empire Loyalists branch were also in costume. Musicians Vivianne Panizzon and Raymond Lacroix were on board to perform. Historic display areas were set up under the tent including wonderful local artwork.

Cornwall City Councillor Bernadette Clément held her own as chairperson, introducing Etienne Saint-Aubin and other dignitaries, most of whom represented the various levels of government from the area, including Ottawa. Does this woman do everything with absolute decorum and humility? She chuckled as she readjusted the microphone to reach her petite stature, after each very tall speaker left the podium. All were male—by the way. Mayor Kilger’s momentous words echoed our sentiment: “We celebrate the past with great pride and we look to the future with great confidence.”

Following the speeches, piper Don Blackadder led the march of the Parade of Nations with flags signifying people from other countries who have come to call this place their home. I was content to note that the first flag being carried was the red, white and green of my birthplace, Hungary. Walking tours were later led by Heritage Cornwall. And, oh yes! What would any celebration be without refreshments ably served up by the Kinettes?

Ian Bowering, curator of the Cornwall Community Museum, was pleased to point out that this Memorial Cairn inscription is the first of its kind in eastern Ontario to acknowledge the contribution of Mohawks in the area settlement. How very fitting, and high time indeed!

As a near newcomer to Cornwall, I am constantly moved by the commitment of the community to its historic roots. Member of Provincial Parliament Jim Brownell remarked that when he was a teacher, the history of this area was part of the curricula which he taught. There is such an overwhelming wealth of history right at our doorstep and so many enthusiastic, dedicated individuals who promote the past accomplishments of our ancestors through their music, art, research and writing. I wish I had seen more children at the Memorial Cairn dedication. I sincerely hope that teachers from all the schools in the area will include this site as part of their field trip with their students, both now and for years to come.

Organizations: Cornwall Community Museum, SD&G Historical Society, Continuing Care Centre Cornwall & S.D.G. Cornwall and Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry United Empire Loyalists

Geographic location: Cornwall, Lamoureux Park, Ottawa Hungary Eastern Ontario

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