Cornwall History

Cornwall is Ontario’s easternmost city, located on the Saint Lawrence River on the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor of Highway 401 and also on CN Rail’s mainline Quebec City-Windsor corridor, which is served by VIA Rail intercity passenger trains. It is just a hundred km south of Ottawa and west of Montreal, but 440 kilometres east of Toronto, Ontario’s capital and largest city. Its largest industries include manufacturing, logistics distribution, and call centres.

It is surrounded by several small communities like Long Sault and Ingleside to the west, Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne to the south, St. Andrew’s and Avonmore to the north, and Glen Walter, Martintown, Williamstown, and Lancaster to the east.

The French first founded a settlement which they called Pointe Maligne, and were joined by 516 United Empire Loyalists in 1784, primarily British soldiers (under Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Johnson) from New York and their families, who called the settlement New Johnstown. The British government helped them settle there in reward for their loyalty and compensation for their losses in the United States. Supplies for the community were shipped upstream from Montreal.

It was later renamed for the Duke of Cornwall, by proclamation of Prince George. In 1834 the town became one of the first incorporated municipalities in the British colony of Upper Canada The construction of the Cornwall Canal (bypassing rapids on the St Lawrence River) between 1834 and 1842 accelerated the community’s development, which attracted railway connections in the 1850s.

Just west of Cornwall, along the St. Lawrence River, were several smaller communities, now known as “the Lost Villages”, that were permanently flooded by the massive 1958 Moses-Saunders Power Dam which was part of the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway to streamline shipping between the Atlantic and the Great Lakes industrial heartland of North America. The top of the dam formed the highway border crossing between Canada & the USA.

One of the town’s famous residents was David Thompson, the Welsh-Canadian explorer who mapped the Far West and was called the greatest land geographer in history. He travelled 90,000 kilometres and mapped 4.9 million square kilometres for the Northwest Company. He travelled extensively form Lake Superior to the Rocky Mountains, down to the mouth of the Columbia River. Many of his traveling companions were from the area

Cornwall is connected to the United States at Roosevelttown, near Massena, New York, via the Three Nations Crossing (Canada, Mohawk, and U.S.A.) which traverses the St. Lawrence River.

Cornwall was had a thriving cotton processing industry (closed in 1992) and paper mill (closed in 2006), and has a major CIL plant (open since 1935) and now has a diversified mix of manufacturing, automotive, high tech, food processing, distribution centres and call centres. The city is home to the largest SCM (Walmart) distribution centre in Canada, a massive 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m2) facility employing nearly 1000 people, and a large Shoppers Drug Mart distribution facility.

The City of Cornwall is on the St. Lawrence Seaway just east of the Eisenhower and Snell Locks. Cornwall is served by the Cornwall Regional Airport located 10 km east of the City, with a 3500 foot runway.

Cornwall Attractions

St. Lawrence Seaway

Various locations along the St. Lawrence River, Cornwall, ON

This engineering marvel allows ships to navigate from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Visitors can observe the locks and learn about their operation.

Gray’s Creek Conservation Area

18045 County Rd 2, Cornwall, ON K6H 5R5
(613) 938-3611

A natural area offering hiking trails, birdwatching, and opportunities for outdoor recreation along the St. Lawrence River. Gray’s Creek includes 6.4 kilometers of meandering trails. Gray’s Creek also offers a picturesque family park with picnic area, play structure, and charcoal barbecues for your convenience.  During the winter, spend time snowshoeing and cross country skiing

Gray’s Creek Marina

18045 County Rd 2, Cornwall, ON K6H 5R5
(613) 938-3398

A marina located on the St. Lawrence River, offering boat docking, rentals, and access to scenic waterways.

Marleau Avenue Park

Marleau Ave, Cornwall, ON K6H 2S6

A community park with green spaces, playgrounds, and walking paths, providing a peaceful environment for outdoor activities.

Raisin River Heritage Centre

16740 County Rd 36, St Andrews West, ON K0C 2A0 (Near Cornwall)

This heritage center provides insights into the history and culture of the local community, including exhibits on the War of 1812. Built in 1909 as a Roman Catholic Convent and boarding school until the departure of the sisters in 1976.

Aultsville Theatre

2 St. Lawrence Dr, Cornwall, ON K6H 4Z1
(613) 932-1661

A cultural venue hosting a variety of performing arts events, including concerts, theater productions, and dance performances.

Cornwall Civic Complex

100 Water St E, Cornwall, ON K6H 6G4
(613) 938-9400

This multi-purpose venue hosts various events, including concerts, sports games, and community gatherings. The arena inside is called the Ed Lumley Arena, named for Ed Lumley. It was built in 1976 and originally held 4,000 people, but in 2008, the arena had an extra 1000 seats added to make the seating 5000.

Cornwall Community Museum

160 Water St W, Cornwall, ON K6J 1A4
(613) 936-0280

This museum showcases the history and culture of Cornwall and the surrounding area through exhibits, artifacts, and educational programs.

Cornwall Motor Speedway

16981 Cornwall Centre Rd, Long Sault, ON K0C 1P0 (10 km W of Cornwall)
(613) 938-3945

This 1/4 mile dirt track racing venue hosts exciting races and events for motorsports enthusiasts. The track opened in 1970 and runs weekly racing on Sunday evenings. Weekly race classes include modified, sportsman, pro stock, semi pro and mini stock.

Cornwall Square

1 Water St E, Cornwall, ON K6H 6M2
(613) 938-2118

A shopping mall with a variety of stores, restaurants, and services for visitors to enjoy.  Across the street from Cornwall Civic Complex and Lamoureux Park.

Gray’s Creek Conservation Area

18045 County Rd 2, Cornwall, ON K6H 5R5
(613) 938-3611

A natural area offering hiking trails, birdwatching, and opportunities for outdoor recreation along the St. Lawrence River. . It offers over 43 hectares of natural landscape that is protected, enhanced and restored by the Raisin Region Conservation Authority. Gray’s Creek includes 6.4 kilometers of meandering trails that are open year round. During the winter, spend time snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Lamoureux Park

Water St E, Cornwall, ON K6H 6S3

A scenic waterfront park along the St. Lawrence River, featuring walking paths, gardens, and recreational facilitiesThe park features many points of interest, including: Marina 200, Cornwall Aquatic Centre, Cornwall Civic Complex, Cornwall Curling Centre, Lions’ Club Bandshell, Citizen of the Year Walkway, Cornwall Community Museum, splash pad, a public boat lunch, the Rotary Eco-Gardens and the Recreational Path.

DEV Hotel and Conference Centre (formerly “Nav Centre”)

1950 Montreal Rd, Cornwall, ON K6H 6L2
(613) 936-5800

Formerly the NAV Centre, the hotel sits on 75 acres of indoor and outdoor space and is ideal for groups, large conferences, special events, sports teams and much more. Onsite amenities include a fully equipped gym, sauna and double gymnasium. Outdoors enjoy our tennis, volleyball, baseball and soccer facilities.

 Raisin River Conservation Area

18045 County Rd 2, Cornwall, ON K6H 5R5
(613) 938-3611

This conservation area offers scenic trails, picnic areas, and opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife observation along the Raisin River.

St. Raphael’s Catholic Church Ruins

19723 County Rd 18, Williamstown, ON K0C 2J0 (Near Cornwall)
(613) 347-2352

The ruins of St. Raphael’s Church, an important historical site that was part of a thriving Scottish Catholic settlement in the 1800s. In 1970 a fire consumed the church of St. Raphael’s, one of the earliest Roman Catholic churches in English-speaking Canada. Fortunately, the outer walls survived the fire and today the fine masonry work attracts tourists to the site. The Ruins were declared a National Historic Site in 1999.

The Art Gallery (TAG)

168 Pitt St, Cornwall, ON K6J 3P4

TAG is a contemporary art gallery showcasing local and regional artists through rotating exhibitions and events.

Cornwall, Ontario Area Map