No need to rewrite our history

Seaway News
No need to rewrite our history

The Editor,

As a local historian I couldn’t help but note that Brent Whitford’s article titled “1784,” that appeared in the recent edition of “Cornwall Living,” contained two small, but very significant historical errors.

Mr. Whitford states that the “1st Battalion of Sir John Johnson’s Royal Yorkers landed at Pointe Maligne, in the vicinity of present-day Lamoureux Park, and built an encampment.”  This statement begs the question, which Pointe Maligne?  There were two Pointes.  The 1799 topographical description of His Majesty’s (George III), province of Upper Canada in North America states there was a Grande Pointe opposite “the grand island of St. Regis” (Cornwall Island, near the present bridge), and Petite “on the north shore of the river St. Lawrence not far above the lower end of Grand Isle St. Regis.”

These geographical locations were there in 1784, and do not line up with what we know about the Loyalist landing either through the “Encampment” or map depicted in the article. However, Lamoureux Park as we know it today, did not exist in 1784, and much of the Park we now have consists of  mid 20th century landfill. Given this and the fact that the Park is very large, Mr. Whitford’s siting of the Loyalist Landing is of very little assistance.

While we do not know exactly where the Loyalists landed, it can be reasonably assumed that they did not land at either of the Pointes, due to the rapids that gave them their names. We do know from the painting of the encampment that they set up their tents on a height of land, just west of a bay, and that the King’s Stores, were located on what is today the west side of Pitt St. near the Cornwall beach.

On the basis of these observations, coupled with the Loyalists’ need to have easy access to the King’s Stores for provisions, and the unsuitable landing conditions at both Pointes, in 1984 Parks Canada’s historians, along with local history enthusiasts, determined that the landing took place just north of the splash pad in Lamoureux Park. In the early 2000s, the Museum Mr. Whitford curates was moved to its present site to overlook the location of the landing, and on the 225th anniversary of the founding of Cornwall, after more study, a cairn was located near the splash pad, to mark the encampment’s location, and the City’s founding. This location was recently affirmed, by the City and Historical Society with the installation of a plaque, near where it is believed the Loyalists disembarked.

The article ends in knighting, John Sandfield Macdonald with the title “Sir.” I am afraid that Mr. Whitford has the wrong Macdonald. John Sandfield was the first Premier of Ontario, but was not knighted; he opposed Confederation and accepted the Premier’s post as a political compromise.  Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, was knighted, but he lived in Kingston, not Cornwall.

Cornwall has a long and proud history. There is no need to rewrite it.

Ian Bowering, Cornwall




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