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Cornwall, Ontario

Coordinates: 45°01′39″N 74°44′24″W / 45.02750°N 74.74000°W / 45.02750; -74.74000
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pitt Street, downtown Cornwall
Pitt Street, downtown Cornwall
Coat of arms of Cornwall
Official logo of Cornwall
The Friendly City, The Seaway City, The Friendly Seaway City[1][2]
Pro Patria
Cornwall is located in Southern Ontario
Cornwall is located in United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry
Coordinates: 45°01′39″N 74°44′24″W / 45.02750°N 74.74000°W / 45.02750; -74.74000
CountyStormont, Dundas and Glengarry
 • MayorJustin Towndale[3]
 • Governing BodyCornwall City Council
 • MPEric Duncan (Conservative)
 • MPPNolan Quinn (PC)
 • Land61.56 km2 (23.77 sq mi)
 • Metro
509.03 km2 (196.54 sq mi)
Elevation64.00 m (209.97 ft)
 • City (single-tier)46,589
 • Density756.8/km2 (1,960/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density117.3/km2 (304/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−4 (EDT)
Postal Code FSA
K6H to K6J
Area code(s)613, 343

Cornwall is a city in Eastern Ontario, Canada, situated where the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and the state of New York converge. It is the seat of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry and is Ontario's easternmost city.

Cornwall is named after the English Duchy of Cornwall; the city's coat of arms is based on that of the duchy with its colours reversed and the addition of a "royal tressure", a Scottish symbol of royalty.

It is the urban centre for the surrounding communities of Long Sault and Ingleside to the west; the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne to the south; St. Andrews West and Avonmore to the north; and Glen Walter, Martintown, Apple Hill, Williamstown, and Lancaster to the east.

The city straddles the St. Lawrence River and is home to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, which oversees navigation and shipping activities for the St. Lawrence Seaway. Cornwall is centrally located between the capital city of Ottawa and Montreal, Canada's second-most populous city. It lies within the Quebec City–Windsor Corridor along Ontario Highway 401, is a major port of entry from the United States into Canada, and is positioned to support some of Cornwall's largest industries, which include logistics, distribution, and call centres.


A dog on the street in front of G. D. Atkinson Flour and Feed, 208 Pitt St., Cornwall, c. 1908

Indigenous peoples have lived in and around the area of present-day Cornwall for millennia.[7]

Though accounts suggest Europeans filtered into the area and had scattered settlements for some time, the first documented European settlement was established in 1784 by United Empire Loyalists, primarily from the former British colony of New York. In 1787 this settlement became the first in present-day Ontario to be visited by a member of the royal family, Prince William Henry (later William IV).[8]

After the war for US independence, former colonial soldiers loyal to the Crown and other disbanded soldiers and their families began to settle at the site of Cornwall, which was then called New Johnstown.[9] Many of the new arrivals were of German origin, and the town being named for Johnstown, New York, the origin of many of them.

The main group was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Johnson and had soldiers from the First Battalion King's Royal Regiment of New York and a contingent of the 84th Royal Highland Emigrants. Following the success of rebellious colonists in the American Revolution, many of those were afraid for their lives or uncomfortable in the newly independent United States became United Empire Loyalists as they were later called, and migrated to Canada. The British government helped them settle throughout the Canadas as a reward for their loyalty and to compensate them for their losses in the United States. One of the chief settlement regions was the St Lawrence River Valley, from Kingston to Cornwall, which would later be known as "Loyalist Country."

They founded a permanent settlement north of one of a series of portage points (the point was not a settlement, nor was it even a trading post), sometimes referred to as Pointe Maligne by European explorers. The square mile town was temporarily named "Royal Town #2" then "Johnson" or "New Johnstown." It was later renamed to Cornwall for the Duke of Cornwall by proclamation of Prince George, and in 1834, the town became one of the first incorporated municipalities in the British colony of Upper Canada.[10] Much later, during one of a series of annexations, those former portage points were added to the expanded community.

During the War of 1812, the Battle of Hoople's Creek and the Battle of Crysler's Farm were fought nearby, and Cornwall was occupied by the American Army from November 11-13, 1813.

The construction of the Cornwall Canal between 1834 and 1842 accelerated the community's development into a regional and industrial economic "capital" for a growing hinterland of towns and villages.[9][11]

In 1846, the population was about 1,600, and there were many brick and stone houses, a stone courthouse and jail, and several government offices. There was little industry, except for a foundry and two tanneries, but there were many independent tradesmen of various types. Other amenities included two bank agencies, eight taverns, and a ladies' school.[12]

Canal and lock construction in the late 1800s and the early 1900s brought work and international business. The Grand Trunk Railway (CN Rail) built an east–west line through Cornwall in 1856. The New York and Ottawa Railway (NY&O) followed with a north–south line crossing the St. Lawrence, with a station in Cornwall dating to 1898.[13] The Canadian Pacific Railway created a succession of subsidiaries and plans for a Cornwall line starting in the 1880s, which culminated in the Glengarry and Stormont Railway in 1915 to connect to CP's Ontario and Quebec Railway mainline to the northeast for an alternative route to Montreal.

The railway connections provided connections between Cornwall and local communities that required access to public services in Cornwall itself, such as high schools and medical services, and helped cement Cornwall's position as a regional centre for a large, rapidly-expanding, and increasingly-populated rural hinterland.[14] The network of villages and towns surrounding Cornwall helped make the city a local entrepot for business, commerce, media and services.

Moses-Saunders Power Dam
Moses-Saunders Power Dam

In 1944, the city was rocked by the magnitude 5.8 Cornwall–Massena earthquake. There were no deaths or injuries reported, but several chimneys were destroyed or damaged, along with heavy damage to historical masonry structures. For example, the Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School received heavy damage from masonry work falling through the roof of the gymnasium.

West of Cornwall, along the St. Lawrence River, there were several smaller communities, known as the Lost Villages. They were submerged in 1958 during the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway,[15] providing a reservoir for the Moses-Saunders Power Dam, which regulates water levels flowing from Lake Ontario and maintains the levels required to operate the two adjacent Canada-US hydroelectric power generating stations.[16]

Ethnic history[edit]

The post-contact regional population was a mixture of French Canadian, Ojibwe and Mohawk residents. Then came an influx of American Loyalists and refugees from the Thirteen Colonies, along with other French Canadian and Acadian migrants. Then poor Scottish and Irish immigrants and refugees who arrived from overseas and other parts of Canada. The different groups mixed and integrated over time, with family names and histories reflecting a blending of different backgrounds that became typical of Eastern Ontario.[17][18]

Smaller but impressive contributions in the region were made by a host of other migrants from Jewish traders, craftsmen, and merchants to Eastern European refugees and even a significant body of former slaves. Many of the stories go unreported in standard histories, which pass over the remarkable history of migration in the region. One good example is the story of John Baker, who died in Cornwall in 1871 at the age of 93. Born in Lower Canada, he was said to be the last Canadian born into slavery and had been an active soldier in the War of 1812 who fought in both Canada and Europe.[19][20] Slavery was ended in the colony of Upper Canada in stages; in 1793, the importing of slaves was banned, and in 1819, Upper Canada Attorney-General John Robinson declared all slaves in the colony to be freed, making Upper Canada the first place in the British Empire and even the world that unequivocally moved towards the formal abolition of chattel slavery. Most of the former slaves settled and integrated into the same communities in which they were freed. By 1833, this process of liberation had succeeded throughout the British Empire by the decision to free all of its slaves. It was the first major state in world history to abolish slavery, and Ontario was the place that the process first bore fruit. John Baker, the last slave to be born into slavery in Canada, died in Cornwall.[21][22]

"Canada" had been conquered from France after the Seven Years' War and included roughly the areas covered by Quebec and Ontario. In the aftermath of the American Revolution, the British authorities divided the Province of Canada in 1791 into two, Upper Canada for English settlers fleeing persecution in the United States, and Lower Canada for the French. That was designed to accommodate Loyalists who had fled postwar reprisals and persecution in the new United States, but the 5,000 English-speaking settlers in the Eastern Township of Quebec were allowed to stay in the French-speaking area, and many French settlers moved into Ontario. Along with the area's original inhabitants, that made the area a patchwork of intersecting ethnicities that later greatly intermingled. Cornwall and the surrounding area, originally called "Royal Settlement #2" and then "New Jamestown," was initially a rough place and was largely left to its own devices. According to contemporary reports, that bred a local culture of intense self-reliance. Adding to the initial history of pragmatic entrepreneurialism, since very early with the founding of the city, provincial and federal governments have typically neglected the area and treated it as little more than a transit corridor. Those who remained in the region tended to be those who had the fortitude and the energy to survive on their own, with little outside assistance.[citation needed]

"The original 516 settlers arrived in Royal Township #2 with minimal supplies and faced years of hard work and possible starvation. Upon their departure from military camps in Montreal, Pointe Claire, Saint Anne, and Lachine in the fall of 1784, Loyalists were given a tent, one month's worth of food rations, clothes, and agricultural provisions by regiment commanders. They were promised one cow for every two families, an axe, and other necessary tools in the near future. For the next three years, bateaux (boat) crews delivered rations to the township, after which residents were left to fend for themselves."[17]

The region's energetic spirit of enterprise and fortitude was well known in the 19th century. David Thompson, the Welsh-Canadian explorer who mapped the Far West and was called the greatest land geographer in history, drew many of his traveling companions from Cornwall's rural hinterland, with Scottish and native settlers, and he lived in Williamstown.

More recently, Cornwall has seen an increase in the arrival of new immigrants,[citation needed] who tend to integrate and often fare better than immigrants in other parts of the country.[23]


The Cornwall region was unusually integrated for rural counties in Ontario. For hundreds of years, the local population has been characterized by a mix of economic migrants, refugees, and opportunists. The mixing of different social classes and ethnic backgrounds was common even early in its history because of the interdependence demanded by isolation and the lack of support from or interference by official authorities.

The original Native population was remarkably welcoming, and the Iroquois were especially well known for integrating newcomers into local societies and for adapting to change as it happened. Many people in the region have some Native ancestry as a result, and many communities sit on sites that have been occupied, farmed, or managed for hundreds of years. Some people were pushed out, but others simply blended into new communities in a process that would go on continuously over many generations.[citation needed]

Lack of strict hierarchy was a characteristic of the region. For example, from the 1780s to the 1830s, a "bee" was a social event that pooled local labour resources for people to come together for collective projects or to help out individual families, and it was often a festive occasion.[citation needed] The early "bees" presaged the development of a varied and integrated culture that ultimately drew on many different classes, backgrounds, and ethnic and linguistic groups, all of which were forced by the harsh reality of life in the region to work together for common goals, the primary of which was survival. The "bees" and different forms of collective shared labour were extremely common all over Eastern Ontario, especially in the early villages of the St. Lawrence Valley.[citation needed]

"In her book 'Roughing It in the Bush,' Susanna Moodie observed that 'people in the woods, have a craze for giving and going to bees and run to them with as much eagerness as a peasant runs to a race.' Bees often involved all ranks and nationalities of society. Thomas Need, a sawmill operator in Victoria County, described in 'From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns' the raising of his facility in 1834 in the following way: 'They assembled in great force and all worked together in great harmony and good will not withstanding their different stations in life.' These gatherings exhibited the lack of aristocracy in the rural loyalist settlement along the St. Lawrence River and residents' disregard for individuals' former social standing or lineage. The harshness and isolation of frontier living prevented the development of an aristocracy and, instead, united all members of the community in a struggle for survival. Early Loyalists, regardless of the amount of land they owned, depended upon the help of their neighbors to clear land, build homes, and share supplies and food during times of poor harvests."[17]


Historical populations
1986 46,425—    
1991 47,137+1.5%
Ethnic origin Population Percentage
French n.o.s 11,810 25.5%
Canadian 11,195 24.2%
Irish 7,490 16.2%
Scottish 7,210 15.6%
English 6,995 15.1%
French Canadian 2,780 6.0%
German 2,690 5.8%
Caucasian (White), n.o.s. 2,625 2.7%
First Nations n.o.s. +

North American Indigenous, n.o.s.

1,935 4.2%
Italian 1,140 2.5%
Dutch 1,105 2.4%
British Isles n.o.s 1,050 2.3%
Mohawk 755 1.6%
Source: StatCan (includes multiple responses)[26]

In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, Cornwall had a population of 47,845 living in 21,386 of its 22,214 total private dwellings, a change of 2.7% from its 2016 population of 46,589. With a land area of 61.5 km2 (23.7 sq mi), it had a population density of 778.0/km2 (2,014.9/sq mi) in 2021.[27]

As of 2021, 9.9% of Cornwall residents were visible minorities, 5.6% were Indigenous, and the remaining 84.5% were white/European. The largest visible minority groups were South Asian (5.1%) and Black (1.7%).

In 2021,[26] 66.3% of the population were Christian, down from 83.0% in 2011.[28] 50.1% of residents were Catholic, 9.8% were Protestant, 3.4% belonged to other Christian denominations or Christian-related traditions and 3.1% were Christian n.o.s. 26.8% of the population were non-religious or secular, up from 12.1% in 2011. The largest non-Christian religion was Islam, accounting for 3.7% of residents, up from 2.4% in 2011. Hinduism was the second largest, at 1.8% of residents, up from 1.5% in 2011. All other religions and spiritual traditions accounted for 1.4% of the population.


Cornwall has traditionally been a gateway from the Montreal area to the rest of Canada, and was and remains a major port of entry into Canada (Canada Border Services abandoned the Cornwall Island post on May 31, 2009, but resumed service on July 13, 2009, at temporary facilities on the city's southern edge.) With the completion of the new low-level bridge connecting Cornwall to Cornwall Island, the C.B.S.A. port was moved to a permanent temporary facility on the canal lands. The city is connected to the United States at Roosevelttown near the municipalities of Massena, New York and Malone, New York, via the Three Nations Crossing (Canada, Mohawk, and United States) which traverses the St. Lawrence River.

Cornwall was once home to a thriving cotton processing industry. Courtaulds Canada, Inc.'s viscose rayon manufacturing mill operated until 1992; at one point it employed nearly 3,000 people. A Cellophane factory was opened in 1971 by British Cellophane, a subsidiary of Courtaulds, as an ancillary to the rayon plant, and traded successively under the names TCF of Canada Limited, BCL Canada Inc. and Courtaulds Films; it too closed in 1992.[29] Domtar, a Quebec-based company, operated a paper mill in the city for nearly 100 years, ceasing operations on March 31, 2006. At its peak, Domtar employed nearly 1,500 employees. In addition, Canadian Industries Limited (C.I.L.), has operated a plant in Cornwall since 1935.[citation needed] The facility has been converted into a major derivatives plant. The site has a long history of mercury contamination, given that for decades the chloralkali process was carried out here. This entailed using used mercury cells to convert brine into caustic soda and chlorine.[30]

Cornwall's industrial base has shifted to a more diversified mix of manufacturing, automotive, high tech, food processing, distribution centres and call centres. The city hosts the largest supply chain management distribution centre in Canada, Walmart, its massive 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m2) facility employing nearly 1,000 people. Target Canada built a new distribution centre in Cornwall's Business Park on a 169-acre (68 ha) parcel of land. The Target Canada distribution centre was operated by Eleven Points Logistics. When Target left Canada, their distribution centre was assumed by Walmart. StarTek (closed), and Teleperformance (closed January 2013) both operated call centres in Cornwall. Teleperformance provided in excess of 300 jobs. In late 2008, Shopper's Drug Mart built a 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m2). distribution facility in Cornwall's Business Park. Over 130 new jobs resulted. Service Canada established a new contact centre which opened in 2010. Over 170 new jobs were created. Cornwall's unemployment rate was about 4% at the time.[31]

Cornwall Square, also known as "The Square", is a two-level 250,000-square-foot (23,000 m2) shopping mall in Cornwall[32] on Water Street East, opposite to Lamoureux Park.

In 2016, Cornwall had the 11th-lowest household median income in Canada and the second-lowest in Ontario, at $51,712.[33]


Historic Cornwall Jail, now County Courthouse


The Cornwall City Council is governed by an elected eleven-member municipal government composed of a mayor and ten councillors who serve four-year terms and represent the city as a whole. The mayor of Cornwall is Justin Towndale,[3] having been elected in 2022 defeating interim mayor Glen Grant who was appointed by council shortly after mayor Bernadette Clement was appointed to the Senate of Canada in June 2021.

At the 2010 municipal election, 56.5% of eligible voters did not vote as out of 30,655 registered voters, only 13,338 cast ballots (43.5%).


Cornwall is located within the Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry riding. The riding is represented by MPP Nolan Quinn (Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario).


Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry is represented federally by Member of Parliament (MP) Eric Duncan (Conservative). John Sandfield Macdonald, the first Premier of Ontario, was from Cornwall and is buried in St. Andrews West at the Catholic Church cemetery. A heritage plaque facing York Street at 211 Water Street West commemorates the 1897 launch of Cornwall's first permanent hospital in the former John Sandfield Macdonald house at that location.

Cornwall federal election results[34]
Year Liberal Conservative New Democratic Green
2021 30% 6,094 46% 9,212 13% 2,699 2% 406
2019 33% 6,849 43% 9,036 18% 3,696 4% 822
Cornwall provincial election results[35]
Year PC New Democratic Liberal Green
2022 52% 6,536 18% 2,249 20% 2,523 4% 499
2018 51% 8,052 28% 4,411 17% 2,631 4% 632


Port Theatre on Montreal Road
Port Theatre on Montreal Road

The City of Cornwall hosts festivals and special community events, including Canada Day festivities. In 2018, it purchased a building in the downtown core to house its arts and culture centre.[36] The Focus Arts Association organizes multiple exhibitions and coordinates events where artists can connect with and support other artists.[37] Your Arts Council, created to provide artists and the community with the tools and resources they need, offers programs aimed at promoting the work of local artists.[38]


The Aultsville Theatre, named after one of the Lost Villages, is a 680-seat performing arts centre on the St. Lawrence College campus and funded in part by the City of Cornwall.[39] The Port Theatre, built in 1941, hosts movies and live music on its stage.[40] Founded in 2006, the Seaway Valley Theatre Company offers plays, musicals, and comedy shows with cabaret-style seating.[41]


Cornwall is home to the Cornwall Community Museum, which is operated by the SD&G Historical Society. In 2022, the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada, relocated its Dominion Office, library, and archives from Toronto to the museum. [42][43]


The Cline House Gallery offers Cornwall and the surrounding area rotating exhibitions of visual art featuring the work of both local and visiting artists.[44] The Cailuan Gallery offers local artwork and an ongoing Special Selections exhibition.[45]


Cornwall Public Library
Cornwall Public Library

The Cornwall Public Library, located in the downtown core, is housed in the former 1953 Cornwall Post Office building, which was renovated and designated a heritage site by the Cornwall Municipal Heritage Committee in 1997.[46][47]

Kinsmen Cornwall Lift Off[edit]

Lift Off was an annual music and hot air balloon festival that took place in July in Lamoureux Park. It was run by a board of volunteers and was a non-profit organization.[48] The event was the only hot air balloon festival in Ontario. Paying individuals could take a 20- or 90-minute ride in one of 25 sponsored balloons.[49]

Kinsmen Cornwall Lift Off promoted a variety of local and national talent. Acts included Glass Tiger, Theory of a Deadman, Marianas Trench, Our Lady Peace, Finger Eleven, Kim Mitchell, Sass Jordan, Tom Cochrane, Trooper, Burton Cummings, and David Wilcox.[48][50] The 2014 lineup featured Great Big Sea's Alan Doyle, Glass Tiger and 54-40 as headliners.[51] This edition was the first to offer a full day of free entertainment, with Glass Tiger headlining. It was attended by over 9,000 people.[52]

2014 was the final year for the Lift Off festival, as debt from a weather-plagued 2013 event and failure to obtain sponsors forced the cancellation of Lift Off 2015 and resulted in a decision to discontinue the festival.[53]


Cornwall Ribfest is an annual festival held by the Optimist Club of Cornwall.[54] It was originally sponsored by the Cornwall Seaway Lions Club. Taking place over four days in late July, Ribfest attracts many for barbecue, free live music and carnival rides. The 2014 edition of the festival attracted 57,000–60,000 attendees, a number greater than the population of the city.[55]


Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School became a grade 7–12 school after amalgamating with General Vanier Intermediate School for the 2011–12 school year. The school celebrated its bicentennial in 2006 and is one of the oldest schools in Canada. CCVS offers a complete French immersion program in grade 7–12.

St. Joseph's Secondary School is a part of the Catholic District Board and offers French immersion education. The newest high school in Cornwall is Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School[56] for grades 7 to 12, opened in response to overpopulation at St. Joseph's. Both schools offer French immersion education.

Cornwall also has two French high schools: l'École secondaire publique l'Héritage, and l'École secondaire catholique La Citadelle. La Citadelle is part of the Roman Catholic separate, French language school board for the Southeastern region of Ontario (CSDCEO). It is home to students from grade 7 to 12. École secondaire publique l'Héritage is part of the public school board responsible for education in the French language in Eastern Ontario (CEPEO) and is home to grade 7 through 12 students.

St. Lawrence Secondary School hosts students in grades 7–12. It was originally St. Lawrence High School, located where La Citadelle is now. Around 2003, it was turned into a school for grades 7–10. It has transitioned back into a high school for grades 7–12. 2012 was to be the first year since 2003 that grade 12s would graduate from the school.

The Statistics Canada 2016 census education profile indicates 40% of Cornwall's population has a post-secondary certificate, diploma, or degree.[57]

A campus of St. Lawrence College is situated in Cornwall. The St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences is located on the college campus, and, among other academic and vocational offerings, provides an Environmental Technician program. The St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences is a research centre that carries out ecotoxicological studies on large river systems and, in particular, on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River ecosystem.[58]

Al-Rashid Islamic Institute is the first Islamic school of any kind in North America,[citation needed] providing higher education in Islamic studies with a boarding facility.

The Seaway Valley Meat Cutting Institute is located in Cornwall, and offers apprenticeship programs.[59][60][61]

Cornwall is home to the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations (CFSACO).[62] CFSACO offers a range of basic and specialty courses and conversion training to Canadian Forces personnel. Military members are trained to become either Air Traffic Controller/Operators or Air Weapons Controller/Operators.

Nav Canada, Canada's air navigation service provider, formerly conducted training of domestic Air Traffic Controllers in Cornwall at the Nav Canada Training Institute and Conference Centre. The facility was purchased in March 2022 by the Devcore Group, and rebranded as the DEV Hotel and Conference Centre. Nav Canada leases a portion of the property, and continues operations on the site, hosting training for technical operations, and leadership.[63]


Cornwall does not enjoy a positive environmental reputation as a result of decades of industrial pollution in the city, the legacy of which is a riverfront contaminated by mercury, zinc, lead, and copper,[64] soil contaminated by coal tar and byproducts,[65] and most evidently, "Big Ben",[66] an 18-hectare (44-acre), 80-metre-tall (260 ft) dumpsite within the city filled with wood bark, paper mill sludge, demolition waste and asbestos.

In September 2008, over public opposition and in spite of Ontario Ministry of Environment (M.O.E.) reports indicating off-site leachate impact from the dump and the likelihood of runoff to the St. Lawrence River, the M.O.E. permitted additional dumping at the "Big Ben" site of creosote and bitumen-contaminated soils from Domtar's former No-co-rode Ltd. site.

Although the area is touted as recreational, it is off-limits until winter when the waste is covered and the odours are subdued. It is then used as a ski hill.

Big Ben Dump in Cornwall

For years, the industrial emissions in the Cornwall area fuelled public health concerns about respiratory disease and cancer. In 1995 Health Canada[67] reported the rate of hospitalization for asthma was approximately double that of Ontario industrial cities such as Hamilton, Sudbury and Windsor. Further research, showed that infants under two years of age had four times the expected hospital admission rate for asthma. Lung and male rectal cancer rates were also elevated in comparison with the rest of the province.

The shutdown of the Courtaulds rayon fiber operation (1992) and the Domtar paper mill (2006) have been a significant factor in the city's improved air quality. Cornwall consistently ranks in the top 10 of 40 monitored communities across Ontario. More recently, a Pembina Institute study of 29 communities across Ontario looked at a number of environmental, social and economic factors. Cornwall ranked 13th overall, and its air quality was ranked #1 in the province.

Cornwall was at one point one of only two cities left in the Province of Ontario with only primary sewage treatment facilities. But construction was started in May 2012 on the secondary treatment level plant with the Governments of Canada and Ontario each covering one-third of an estimated $55.5 million construction cost. The City picked up the remaining one-third of the cost of $18.5 million. The secondary treatment level plant was completed in November 2014.

In 2006, the City updated its Strategic Plan, including the objective to develop an environmentally sustainable community.[68]

In 2007, a former city councillor, Naresh Bhargava, began working with the St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences on a project called the Community Carbon Reduction Initiative. City Council provided $5,000 in start-up funding for the project.[citation needed] Earlier progress in energy conservation was made when in 1995, the first municipally owned hot water district heating and cogeneration system in Canada went into operation, providing about 4% of the city's daily electrical needs while at the same time heating a number of buildings, including a hospital site, schools, and a municipal library.[69] Cornwall converted all of its traffic signals in 2002 to energy-efficient LEDs that have reduced power usage by more than 600 kW—enough to light close to 70 homes. The data was contained in a report prepared by the city's public works department.


Similar to most of Southern Ontario, Cornwall has a humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfa/Dfb) with cold, snowy winters and warm, humid summers. Precipitation is significant year-round, although the winter months are generally drier than the summer months.

Climate data for Cornwall, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1867–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) −4.4
Daily mean °C (°F) −8.5
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −12.6
Record low °C (°F) −43.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 76.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 29.1
Average snowfall cm (inches) 47.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 14.2 11.3 11.2 12.0 13.8 11.9 11.4 11.1 12.0 12.8 14.6 14.0 150.1
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 3.9 3.8 5.7 11.0 13.8 11.9 11.4 11.1 12.0 12.6 12.1 5.7 114.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 11.5 8.5 6.6 1.9 0.04 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.31 3.4 9.5 41.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 85.3 114.8 153.0 166.2 209.9 241.2 274.1 229.7 163.7 129.9 75.6 61.0 1,904.3
Percent possible sunshine 29.9 39.1 41.5 41.1 45.6 51.7 58.0 52.7 43.4 38.1 26.3 22.3 40.8
Source: Environment Canada[5][70][71][72]


The north span of the Three Nations Crossing seen from Cornwall's west end. This bridge was torn down as it has been replaced by a much shorter low-level bridge to Cornwall Island.


The Grand Trunk Railway (CN Rail) built an east–west line through Cornwall in 1856 and its original station dated to that year. The New York and Ottawa Railway (NY&O) followed with a north–south line crossing the St. Lawrence, with a station in Cornwall dating to 1898.[13] Canadian Pacific created a succession of subsidiaries and plans for a Cornwall line starting in the 1880s, culminating in the Glengarry and Stormont Railway in 1915, which connected to CP's Ontario and Quebec Railway mainline to the northeast, creating an alternative route to Montréal.

The expansion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950s significantly disrupted the city's rail infrastructure, resulting in CN relocating its line northward, and the NY&O abandoning its line altogether. A new CN passenger station, which is still in use by Via Rail, was constructed in 1957 and the century-old Grand Trunk station was demolished shortly after, in 1962. The NY&O's passenger service ended in 1957 and its passenger station was demolished in the 1960s as well.[13] CP passenger service ended even earlier, in 1952, and the CP passenger station was demolished in 1969.[13] CP abandoned the line altogether in 1995.

Currently, Cornwall only has one significant rail line, the CN Kingston Subdivision, which functions as the CN mainline between Toronto and Montreal. It also serves as a component of Via Rail's Québec City-Windsor corridor. Passenger trains between Montréal and Toronto stop at the Cornwall railway station, which is located in the city's north end. Via's High-Frequency Rail (HFR) proposal, which would generally improve passenger rail service in Eastern Ontario, would not pass through Cornwall as most of the service improvements are planned to be focused on new lines constructed on abandoned rail rights of way as well as existing Via-owned lines such as the Via Brockville Subdivision.

Street railway[edit]

Around the turn of the 20th century, Cornwall had a burgeoning electric street railway system, which transported freight and passengers throughout the city. The Cornwall Electric Street Railway began passenger operations in 1896 and freight operations in 1899. Passenger operations ended in 1949 with a switch to trolleybus service, and electric freight operations ended in 1971 with the system's sale to CN Rail and subsequent dieselization.[73] During its time, the street railway was significant in the city's social and industrial development. Ultimately, its passenger tram service, after conversion to trolleybus, became the present-day Cornwall Transit, which provides municipal diesel bus service to this day.

Public transit[edit]

With a fleet of 24 buses, Cornwall Transit operates six days a week (excluding Sundays and holidays) on fixed routes and supplementary rush-hour routes. In addition, there is an on-demand "Handi-Transit" service for the disabled. Cornwall Transit also contracts taxi service at a flat rate for Handi-Transit registrants who are ambulatory. The City-operated transit system transports approximately 860,000 passengers every year.[74]


Cornwall is served by the Cornwall Regional Airport, which is located 10 km (6.2 mi) east of the city near Summerstown. It is open year-round and licensed for day and night VFR IFR operations. The facilities include a 3,500 ft × 100 ft (1,067 m × 30 m) runway, a terminal, hangar, and the Canada Border Services Agency (on request). Domestic and international charter flying service from the airport is offered by Cornwall Aviation.

Massena International Airport in New York is 20 minutes by car from Cornwall.[75]


The City of Cornwall is on the St. Lawrence Seaway just east of the Eisenhower and Snell Locks. The Cornwall Harbour and Government wharf are located on the north bank of the St. Lawrence River in the city's east end.


Cornwall has two indoor arenas, the Cornwall Civic Complex and the Benson Centre with three ice surfaces.


Cornwall has been home to a variety of sports teams, the most notable of which was the Cornwall Royals hockey team which played in both the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Hockey League before moving to Newmarket in 1992. The Royals won the Memorial Cup in 1972, 1980 and 1981.

From 1993 to 1996, the Cornwall Aces were an AHL franchise, which like the Cornwall Royals, played at the Ed Lumley Arena in the Cornwall Civic Complex. They were the farm team for the NHL franchises, the Quebec Nordiques, and the relocated Colorado Avalanche.

The Cornwall Colts are the current Junior A team playing in the Central Canada Hockey League. Cornwall has hosted several major sporting events in its history including the Ontario Winter Games and Special Olympics. In 2008, Cornwall hosted the Royal Bank Cup, the National Championship for Junior A hockey teams. The Cornwall Colts finished third in the series, winning 2 of 5 games. The Cornwall Colts hosted the Fred Page Cup in 2015 for the Eastern Canadian Championship. The teams are represented in the Fred Page Cup are the Maritime Hockey League Champions (Kent Cup), the Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Québec Champions (Napa Cup), the Ottawa District champions of the Central Canada Hockey League (Bogart-Nielsen Cup), and a host team chosen by committee two years before the tournament.

The Cornwall River Kings of the Ligue Nord-Américaine de Hockey (LNAH) started playing out of the Cornwall Civic Complex in the fall of 2012 but folded in 2016. The River Kings were replaced by the Cornwall Nationals of the Federal Hockey League,[76] which folded during the 2017–18 season.


Cornwall has three soccer areas, the Kinsmen Junior Soccer Field at Second Street West and Haulage Road; The Benson Centre (for indoor soccer); and Optimist Park on Sunnyside Street and St. Michel Drive.


Cornwall has competitive men's and women's rugby clubs. After many years without rugby in the community, it saw a resurrection in 2006. Both teams compete in the Eastern Ontario Rugby Union which is located in Ottawa. The home of the Cornwall Crusaders Rugby Football Club is Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School. The men's and women's teams practice Tuesdays and Thursdays from April until the end of August. The men's team won the Eastern Ontario Men's Division 1 Championship in 2009 and 2010 against the Napanee Outlaws and the Gatineau Mirage, respectively.[citation needed]

The sport of rugby continues to grow in the community. Many high schools throughout Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry have junior and senior boys' teams as well as varsity girls' teams. These high school teams serve as feeders to the Cornwall Crusaders. Many of the players who play for the Crusaders come from high schools in the S.D.& G. area.

Roller Derby The Seaway Roller Derby Girls Association is the first roller derby flat track roller derby league in Cornwall and SD&G Counties, established in 2011. The Power Dames is the first official team.

Girls' basketball The United Counties girls' basketball team won provincial and international basketball tournaments in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In addition, the city offered girls' and women's basketball from age eight to college graduates. The San Lawrence College women's team won a college tournament as well. The teams were coached by Adelore Bergeon and Alan Haskvitz.

Notable people[edit]

Some of the more famous people to hail from the Cornwall area include:



Some stations from other nearby areas, including Ottawa, Montreal and New York's North Country, are also available.



  • Cornwall Standard-Freeholder is the city's main daily newspaper and is published by Sun Media, a division of Postmedia Network Inc.
  • Seaway News is a weekly newspaper owned by TC Media, and includes pages from the French-language L'Express.
  • The Cornwall Seeker is a locally owned monthly newsmagazine distributed for free in stores and in print. Founded in 2010, the magazine focuses on arts, culture and events.
  • Le Journal de Cornwall is a locally owned weekly newspaper, which predominantly serves the Franco-Ontarian community but publishes some content in English as well.


  • Cornwall Free News

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Cornwall is twinned with:

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]