240 Years Celebrated with Historic Reenactments

240 Years Celebrated with Historic Reenactments
Marie Andreé Gaudreault and Sylvain Sirois of the Socièté d'histoire des Filles du Roy (Photo : Jason Setnyk photo)

From June 7-9, 2024, Cornwall celebrated the 240th anniversary of New Johnstown, now known as Cornwall, and the Royal Townships, encompassing the Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry, as well as Leeds and Grenville. The event, organized by the SDG Historical Society, honored the Loyalists who fled to Canada after the American War of Independence, contributing to Ontario’s founding and shaping Canadian government and laws.

The celebration featured historical reenactments, including the Loyalist landing and drawing of the original 1784 land allotments on Saturday. During the opening ceremonies, guest speakers included town crier Wes Libbey, Senator Bernadette Clement, SDSG MP Eric Duncan, SDSG MPP Nolan Quinn, Grand Chief Abram Benedict, SDG Counties Warden Jamie MacDonald, City Councillor Elaine MacDonald, and others.  On Sunday, battle maneuvers with musket and cannon fire were featured.

Dona Cruickshank, President of the SDG Historical Society, shared her excitement: “We started on Friday with the school tours. It was very exciting; we had groups of students learning all about the different histories in the area. The history of Cornwall is one of the most important in Ontario, and the fact that Ontario began right here is significant.”

Reenactor coordinator Marcio Da Cunha explained the event’s complexity: “It’s extremely difficult; normally, an event like this is planned two years out, but we ended up doing it within one year. It involves gathering roughly 80 individuals from across North America. We try to present these people who lived here as accurately as possible, down to sewing clothingby hand and creating period shelters.”

Brent Whitford, Senior Curator and Administrator of the Cornwall Community Museum expressed his satisfaction: “There has been so much time and effort in working, and to see it all come together the way it has puts a big smile on my face. The Heritage Village, the reenactors, the recreation of New Johnstown, the museum, everything is in full swing, and I really couldn’t be happier to see the support we received this weekend.”

The event featured organizations like the Socièté d’histoire des Filles du Roy, and living history regiments, including the 8th Regiment of Foot, the 24th Regiment of Foot, and King’s Royal Regiment of New York, alongside cultural groups from Akwesasne Travel and the Native North American Travelling College.

Sylvain Sirois from the Socièté d’histoire des Filles du Roy noted, “Our organization celebrates the legacy of the 764 women that came to New France between 1663 and 1673, doubling its population within 15 years.”

The event included living history demonstrations, heritage village displays, performances by local cultural groups, guest speakers and authors, and concerts that immersed visitors in the region’s rich heritage.

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