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City of Cornwall
Cornwall, Ontario
Cornwall, Ontario
Country Canada
Province Ontario
Founded 1784
 • Type Town
 • City 61.83 km2 (23.87 sq mi)
 • Metro
508.98 km2 (196.52 sq mi)
 • City 45,965
 • Density 743.4/km2 (1,925/sq mi)
 • Metro
Time zone UTC-5 (EST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
Area code(s) 613 and 343
Website City of Cornwall Website

Cornwall (2001 population 45,640, metropolitan population 57,581) is a city in southeastern Ontario, Canada and seat of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry United Counties, Ontario, located on the St. Lawrence River, as well as Highway 401 near the Ontario-Quebec border. It is approximately 100 kilometres south-east from Ottawa via Highways 417 and 138, Canada's capital, and 100 km west of Montreal, Quebec's largest metropolis.

The city was first settled in 1784 by United Empire Loyalists escaping the American Revolution from New York. First named New Johnstown, Cornwall was renamed for Prince George, the Duke of Cornwall in 1834.

Cornwall is a port-of-entry into Canada, and is connected to Massena, New York, USA via the Seaway International Bridge.

Its largest industries include logistics distribution and call centres.


Aboriginal peoples have lived in and around the area of present-day Cornwall for millennia.

The first serious European settlement was established in 1784 by United Empire Loyalists primarily from New York. Disbanded soldiers and their families began to settle at the site of Cornwall, then called New Johnstown.

Vieux Fort Cornwall Ontario 1910
Fort Cornwall Ontario 1910

They were led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Johnson and were 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, the United Empire Loyalists (as they were later called) migrated to Canada. The British government helped them settle there as a reward for their loyalty and to compensate them for their losses in the United States.

It was once home to a thriving cotton processing industry that waned in the 1960's. This was one of the first places to have electricity in Canada. Domtar, a Quebec-based company has run a paper mill in the city for close to one-hundred years. Once employing nearly 1500 Cornwallites, its workforce has dwindled to around 400.

West of Cornwall, several small communities along the St. Lawrence River, now known as The Lost Villages, were permanently flooded in 1958 by the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway, to make way for the massive hydroelectric dam at the western end of the city.

Cornwall also has one of the oldest jails in Canada, and is a new tourist attraction since being restored. Cornwall Collegate and Vocational School (CCVS) was one of the first High Schools in Ontario, and now hosts grade 11 and 12 students.

Ethnic history

Cornwall Ontario
Aboriginals making lacrosse sticks, Cornwall Island, ON, about 1910

Eastern Ontario has always been a highway or corridor through which people moved, a corridor used by migration and conquest. Prior to European colonization, the Mohawks and Six Nations Iroquois settled and raided through the St. Lawrence valley. The French and British fought over the waterway and, after the American revolution in 1812–14, it became a battleground between Americans and Canadians. Formally founded to be a new home for refugees, it remained a home for refugees and migrants for much of its history.

Early settlement of the region is largely undocumented although oral histories and early accounts suggest that settlers, traders and farmers existed in the area long before formal recognition.

The post-contact regional population was a mixture of French Canadian, Ojibwe and Mohawk residents. To this mix was added an influx of American English Loyalists and refugees from the Thirteen Colonies (now the United States), French Canadian and Acadian migrants and, later, poor Scottish and Irish immigrants and refugees. These different groups mixed and integrated over time with family names and histories reflecting a blending of different backgrounds that was typical of Eastern Ontario.


Three Nations Crossing
Three Nations Crossing

Cornwall is a port-of-entry into Canada. 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 rayon manufacturing mill operated until 1992; at one point it employed nearly 3,000 people. 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. The facility has been converted into a major derivatives plant. The site has a long history of mercury contamination.

Cornwall's industrial base has now 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 (SCM) (Walmart) distribution centre in Canada, its massive 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m2) facility employing nearly 1000 people.

Cornwall's unemployment rate is about 4%.


Big Ben Dump Cornwall, Ontario

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, soil contaminated by coal tar and byproducts, and most evidently, "Big Ben": an 18-hectare (45-acre), 80-metre tall dumpsite within the city filled with wood bark, paper mill sludge, demolition waste and asbestos.

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.

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 now consistently ranks in the top 10 of 40 monitored communities across Ontario.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Cornwall (Ontario) para niños

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