There are many historical buildings and sites in the area, most of which you can visit and tour including the Cornwall Museum, the Historic SDG Jail and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Cornwall Public Library has loads of historic records and is often a great resource for those doing ancestry research. Just a short drive out of town you can experience the world class Upper Canada Village and the Lost Villages Museum, both paying tribute to the way life used to be. Go back in time and learn about life in Cornwall and SDG Counties by visiting these attractions.
160 Water St. West, Cornwall, ON
Located inside a restored 1840 Loyalist home in Lamoureux Park, and featuring archival materials and displays of furniture, textiles and household items ranging from different periods in time. The home was built by William Wood in 1840. The Cornwall Community Museum is quite literally a step back in time.
Hours of operation
Monday – Closed
Tuesday – 9 am to 4 pm
Wednesday – 9 am to 4 pm
Thursday – 12 pm to 7 pm
Friday – 12 pm to 7 pm
Saturday – 9 am to 4 pm
Sunday – Closed
The Cornwall Historic Walking Tour features 40+ plaques that have been erected along Cornwall’s water-front, each depicting an era or event from Cornwall’s rich history. The plaques feature the artwork of renowned Cornwall artist Pierre Giroux, together they form a tapestry that weaves throughout the City. Local historian Lily Worrall completed much of the research that went into the illustrations.
The tour begins at Lamoureux Park and features three separate walks that can be enjoyed together, or individually. Take a stroll along the Waterfront Walk, visit the historic Downtown Walk, and enjoy the culture of the Le Village Walk.
Our Wonderful Waterfront
- Seaway International Bridge
- The Eastern Entrance to the Cornwall Canal
- Cornwall Canal
- Augustus Street Swing Bridge
- United Counties Courthouse and Jail
- Hotel Dieu Hospital
- The Stormont Mill
- The Paper Mill
- New York Central Railway Bridge
- Lock 19
- Construction of Moses-Saunders Power Dam
- Moses-Saunders Power Dam
- Maple Grove
- Rapids Prince
- Quarries of Mille Roches
- Woodlands Santa Cruz
- Sheek/Sheik Island
Cornwall’s Downtown History
- Corner of Pitt & First Streets
- The New York Café
- The Rossmore House
- Stones from the Post Office
- King George Hotel
- Pitt Street Between Second & Third Streets
- The Great Fire
- Hotel Cornwallis
- The Capitol Theatre
- The Cornwall Orphanage
- Town Hall
Le Village Leaves its Mark
- The Fabric of Le Village
- The Roxy Theatre
- Co-Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Royal Hotel
- Race Street
- Cornwall Dry Dock
- The Cotton Mills
- The Stone House
- The Founding of New Johnstown
- Cornwall Community Arena
- Guarding the Cornwall Canal
- Canadair T-133 Silver Star
- The Gift of Tulips
The Cornwall Historic Walking Tour is a partnership between Le Village BIA, Downtown BIA, Heart of the City and the City of Cornwall.
Distance: Approximately 6 km
Time to complete: 90 minutes
Plaque dimensions: 76 x 101cm
Plaque weight: 7 kg
Artist: Pierre Giroux
Research: Lily Worrall
100 Water Street East Cornwall, ON K6H 6G4
Check out Cornwall’s impressive sports heritage at the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame, located in the Cornwall Civic Complex. The Hall includes memorabilia and photos of notable athletes including Newsy Lalonde, Dale Hawerchuck, and Doug Gilmour as well as many stars from many other sports.
Every two years nominations are made for induction to this exclusive club. Honouring those who excelled in sport in the community, as well as those ambassadors who helped to promote sports in the Cornwall area
Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Historic SDG Jail will not be open for the 2020 summer season.
11 Water Street West, Cornwall
The County Jail building was originally constructed in 1833 and remained operational over a period of 168 years until it was closed in 2002. The facility housed inmates from Cornwall and across the modern-day United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry. Men, women, and children of all ages were incarcerated in the Jail for various types of offenses, including being in debt and committing murder.
Over the years, five inmates were officially executed by hanging, behind the Jail walls for the crimes they had been found guilty of committing; the last execution took place in 1954.
The County Jail is maintained in almost the same condition as it was upon its closure with historical artifacts and displays arranged around the building. This historical site is now considered one of the oldest public structures in Ontario.
Guided Tours from June – August
Motorists can enjoy a nice leisurely drive along the St. Lawrence River by taking the Heritage Parkway. The Heritage Parkway, also know as Highway 2 or County Road 2, extends from Iroquois to the west, through Cornwall, and continues eastwardly to the Quebec border. As such it travels though such towns as Morrisburg, Ingleside, Long Sault, Glen Walter and Lancaster – connecting parks and campsites to restaurants and retailers. In Cornwall, the Parkway is formed in part by Vincent Massey Drive, Brookdale Avenue, Water Street and Montreal Road.
The Heritage Parkway is signed with brown road signs that feature a canon and the words Promenade Heritage Parkway.
History of the Route
Once the primary east–west route across the southern portion of Ontario, Highway 2 was originally part of a series of identically numbered highways in multiple provinces which together joined Windsor, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1968, most travellers looking for faster travel times were diverted to the newly constructed Highway 401. In 1972, the Ontario and Quebec governments designated Route 2 from Windsor to Rivière–du-Loup as the Heritage Highway (Route des Pionniers). That historic designation is reflected in the local name – Heritage Parkway.
Locally, the Heritage Parkway is considered a more scenic route, perfect for day-trips and more leisurely travel.
16361 Fran Laflamme Drive, Long Sault
The Lost Villages Museum pays tribute to the communities that were forever lost during the flooding and construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1958. The museum consists of ten heritage buildings, moved and restored to Ault Park from The Lost Villages.
13740 County Road 2, Morrisburg
1-800-437-2233 or 613-543-4328
What was it really like to live and work in the 19th Century? Upper Canada Village transports you back in time to the 1860s with authentic buildings, costumed interpreters, and traditional 19th century activities. The experience provides some insights into some of the challenges and rewards of daily life in a small village in the 1860s.
Learn about the Canadian Horse, Daily Life, Agriculture, Religion, Music, Manufacturing, Transportation and more!
In addition to the 40+ new plaques that make up the Historic Walking Tour, there are dozens of Historic Plaques in Cornwall and the surrounding townships that commemorate historic events, people or key buildings.
In Cornwall there are 14 historic plaques. These plaques are typically large metal signs with distinct colour patterns: blue and gold (Ontario) and red and gold (Canada)
Ontario Historical Plaques
Cornwall Grammar School
Location: 437 Sydney Street in Cornwall at the entrance of the Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School
Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School traces its beginning to an educational institution founded by John Strachan in 1803. Strachan, an Anglican priest, opened a private school in his home where he hoped to educate young men to take on leading roles in society. In 1806 he built a schoolhouse that became one of the first provincially funded district grammar schools one year later. Many of Upper Canada’s elite received their education under Strachan’s respected and progressive tutelage. After he left for York (now Toronto) in 1812, various masters ran the Cornwall Grammar School. With provincial educational reform in 1871, it became Cornwall High School and began a new life as a modern secondary institution, becoming a collegiate in 1925, and adding vocational courses in 1938.
Founding of Cornwall
Location: In Lamoureux Park, at the foot of Augustus Street.
During the 1780s, disbanded loyalist soldiers and their families began to settle at the site of Cornwall, then called New Johnstown. The construction of the Cornwall Canal between 1834 and 1842 accelerated the community’s development into an industrial centre.
Captain Samuel Anderson 1736-1836
Location: On the north side of Montreal Road just East of Dunbar Avenue.
A veteran of the Seven Years War and the American Revolution, Anderson was one of the earliest settlers at the site of present-day Cornwall. In Upper Canada he served as a justice of the peace and as the first judge of the Eastern District.
District Court House and Gaol 1833
Location: On the grounds of the court house, Pitt and Water Streets.
The centre block of this court house complex was constructed in 1833 as the judicial headquarters of the Eastern District. The building replaced an earlier frame structure dating from 1802. Renovations have significantly altered the appearance of the court house over the years.
French Presence in Cornwall
Location: On the grounds of l’Eglise de la Nativite de la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie, 300 Montreal Rd.
Industrial expansion in Cornwall in the late 1870s led to an influx of workers and tradespeople from Quebec. Over the years, Cornwall’s Franco-Ontarian community has asserted its cultural distinctiveness and paid particular attention to French education and preservation of the French language.
Location: In front of the armouries, 515 Fourth Street East
Raised from the Highland settlers in the Cornwall area, the regiment distinguished itself during the War of 1812 at Ogdensburg, Lundy’s Lane and Fort Erie.
Reverend John Strachan in Cornwall
Location: On the grounds of Trinity Church, a building dedicated to his memory, 105 Second Street West.
A renowned clergyman and teacher, Strachan (1778-1867) came to Upper Canada from Scotland in 1799. He built the first Anglican church in that community and established a school for boys. In 1812, he moved to York (Toronto)
Submerged Communities of the St. Lawrence
Location: In Lakeside Park, County Rd 2, west of Cornwall
The construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the creation of Lake St. Lawrence necessitated the flooding of several villages along the riverfront in 1958. Some buildings were relocated and new communities such as Long Sault and Ingleside were established.
The Flying Frenchmen – Édouard “Newsy” Lalonde
Location: Cornwall Civic Complex.
Professional hockey was in its infancy in the autumn of 1909 when the promoters behind the National Hockey Association, forerunner of the National Hockey League, created the Montreal Canadiens team to attract French-Canadian spectators. Belleville-born Jean-Baptiste “Jack” Laviolette was hired as the playing-manager and captain. Laviolette signed Cornwall’s Édouard “Newsy” Lalonde to play forward and recruited his friend Didier “Cannonball” Pitre from the Renfrew Creamery Kings (‘Renfrew Millionaires’) as a defenceman. This trio of francophone…
Colonel Darby Bergin, 1826-1896
Location: Precious Blood Parish Cemetery, 18318 County Rd 2 in Glen Walter.
Bergin was born in York (Toronto) and received his medical degree from McGill College in Montreal. He practised medicine in Cornwall, where he also assisted at a local typhus hospital. He later worked with the Mohawks of Akwesasne during a devastating smallpox outbreak. Bergin was elected Member of Parliament in 1872. He was a passionate and early advocate for rural affairs, public health and social justice. His innovative efforts and political appeals to improve workplace conditions and reduce the hours of work for women and children influenced future successful labour reform in Canada. A lifelong supporter of the militia, he was the first commanding officer of the 59th Stormont and Glengarry Battalion. In 1885, he became Canada’s first Surgeon General, laying the groundwork for the creation of a permanent medical corps. A promoter of local industry, he played an important role in the expansion of the Cornwall Canal and founded the Ontario Pacific Railway. After his death, Bergin was honoured with one of the largest public funerals ever held in Eastern Ontario.
Federal Historic Plaques
Location: Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School 437 Sydney St, Cornwall
In grateful remembrance of the distinguished public services of the Honourable and Right Reverend John Strachan, 1778-1867, as a patriotic citizen pioneer, educator, author, and legislator.
In 1803, he opened his famous grammar school in Cornwall.
Location: Lock 20 in Lamoureux Park 100 Water Street East, Cornwall
The Cornwall Canal was one of eight canals that connected western Canada with the ocean by way of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. Constructed in 1834-1842 to overcome the rapids of the Long Sault, it was enlarged several times between 1876-1904 and superseded by the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.
Location: Inverarden House Montreal Road, Cornwall (near Boundary road)
This house, built in 1816, is a fine example of Regency architecture and its interior is a pleasing expression of Georgian symmetry with excellent detailing. In a wooded setting and commanding an impressive view, this was a fitting home for a country squire. It was built for retired fur trader John McDonald of Garth, an aggressive and successful North West Company wintering partner during the rivalry with the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1824 McDonald gave the house to a daughter, wife of retired fur trader John Duncan Campbell, and it remained in the Campbell family until 1965.
Right Reverend John Strachan 1778-1867
Location: Trinity Anglican Church 105 Second Street West
This pioneer clergyman, legislator and teacher was born in 1778 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in 1799 came to Kingston as a tutor. In 1803, after entering the Church of England, he was ordained and appointed missionary at Cornwall. Here, in 1804-05, he built its first Anglican church. Shortly afterwards he opened a boys’ school which became renowned for its high academic standards and eminent graduates. In 1812 he became Rector of York (Toronto), and subsequently a member of the province’s executive and legislative councils. Appointed Upper Canada’s first Anglican bishop in 1839, he died in 1867 and this church, commenced in 1869, is dedicated to his memory.
United Empire Loyalists
Location: Cornwall Public Library 45 Second Street, East
The United Empire Loyalists played a prominent role in the development of this country. In particular, the officers and men of the Royal Highland Emigrants, the King’s Royal Regiment of New York, the Loyal Rangers and the King’s Rangers, displayed unswerving fidelity in defence of the city and province of Québec during the American War of Independence (1775-83). In later years, they subdued the wilderness to create new homes and to lay the foundations of the province of Upper Canada.
The Provincial Plaque Program
The Ontario Heritage Trust’s Provincial Plaque Program commemorates provincially significant people, places and events in Ontario’s history. Since 1956, over 1,279 provincial plaques have been unveiled. The Provincial Plaque Program is the Trust’s oldest and perhaps best-known activity. The plaques enliven Ontario’s history, sharing stories of the people, places and events that have helped to shape the province.
25 Second Street East, Cornwall
In 1995, the Cornwall Public Library celebrated its 100th anniversary. In 1997, the library underwent a large transition when it moved into the former post office building. This move ended years of overcrowding and gave the public a locale in the heart of the city. It also gave life to a historic building making it a great place to learn and have fun. Members can take out books, movies, music, and also have access to the Internet. The library often holds fun, educational events for the whole family.
There are many historical documents stored in the library, and it is often used as a resource for local ancestry research.
Take some time to explore the historic Cotton Mill District. Once home to the areas manufacturing industry it is now being renovated to house restaurants, office space, condos and retail. Artifacts of the original structures are still present. You can even see a plaque dedicated to the first electric light bulb installed by Thomas Edison himself.
A Timeline of Cornwall’s Cotton Mill Industry
Cornwall Manufacturing Company
– 1868 Started by George Stephen & Hugh Allan
– 1870 Suffers a fire
– 1871 Is rebuilt
– 1902 Closes its doors
– 1903 Becomes the Dundas Mill as part of Canadian Coloured Cottons Limited
Stormont Cotton Manufacturing Company
– 1870 Started by the Gault Bros.
– 1874 Suffer a fire
– 1880 Becomes Canadian Cotton Limited, Stormont Mill
Canadian Cotton Manufacturing Company
– 1874 Started by Smith, MacKay, Rosemount, Harvey, MacInnes
– 1882 Becomes Canadian Cottons Limited, Canada Mill
Canadian Cottons Limited
– 1880 Acquired the Stormont Cotton Manufacturing Company, Stormont Mill
– 1881 Stormont Mill – acquired more land & built new plant
– 1882 Acquired the Canadian Cotton Manufacturing Company, Canada Mill
– 1882 Canada Mill – Weave Shed added
– 1884 Weave Shed is electrified
– 1892 Canada Mill is now part of Canadian Coloured Cotton Mills Company
– 1903 Stormont Mill is now part of Canadian Coloured Cotton Mills Company
Canadian Coloured Cottons Limited
– 1892 Purchases the Canadian Cotton Manufacturing Company, Canada Mill
– 1903 Brings together the Dundas, Canada and Stormont Mills on December 30
– 1936 Rayon Workers Industrial Union is formed at Canadian Coloured Cottons Limited
– 1937 Officially recognizes the United Textile Workers of America
– 1937 Arthur Laverty organises the Cornwall Textile Workers Union at Canadian Coloured Cottons Limited and Powdrell and Alexander Curtain Factory
– 1948 Purchases Powdrell and Alexander, renaming it Glengarry Textiles
– 1959 Three factories closed; two became the property of CIDL.
– 1961 Stormont Mill is raised by fire on Hallowe’en night (October 31)
– 1978 Dundas Mill is partly demolished
– 1992 Canada Mill is occupied by various smaller companies
19998 County Road 18, Williamstown
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 were spared and today its impressive scale and fine masonry work continue to attract the tourists to the site. The Ruins were declared a National Historic Site in 1999.
Visitors are welcome to tour the site. Gates are open during the day in the summer months with a curator on duty in July and August.
Admission: FREE (donations are gratefully accepted)
2500B Second Street West, Cornwall
Newly built in 2010, the Visitor Centre is a state-of-the-art LEED-certified building and provides an interactive, historical look at the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project. Learn about one of the most significant developments of the area and the enormous impact the project has had on communities in the area. Discover the generation of electricity and the American eel and take in the beautiful view of the Moses-Saunders Dam from the balcony of this beautiful visitor’s centre. Conveniently, the famous Waterfront Trail travels right by the Visitor Centre, making it easily accessible on foot or bicycle.
The parking lot hosts electronic vehicles charging stations.
19651 County Road 17, Williamstown
The historic village of Williamstown, Ontario, is home to the Glengarry, Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum, which preserves and interprets the history of the United Empire Loyalist migration to Glengarry County and of the Glengarry partners of the North West Company.
The museum tells the story of Sir John Johnson and the Loyalist followers who helped settle the region during the American revolution in 1784.
17298 County Road 18, St. Andrews
The historical sites located in the village of St. Andrews West include the magnificent St. Andrews Church and the pioneer cemetery across the road. The cemetery is where explorer Simon Fraser and Ontario’s first premier, John Sandfield Macdonald, are buried.
The Cornwall township Historical Society have undertaken a number of projects including the restoration of the stone wall around the old Pioneer Cemetery in St. Andrews, building a replica of the original wooden log church built about 1784 and restoring some of the old monuments in the Pioneer Cemetery.
Every year, the Ontario Heritage Trust works with communities across the province to open the doors, gates and courtyards of their unique and most fascinating cultural sites so you can explore the stories inside.
In 2020, Cornwall’s Doors Open event will be held on Saturday, August 15th and Sunday August 16 with numerous historical sites taking part.
5446 Upper Canada Road, Morrisburg
Roam among over 50 life-sized reproductions of creatures that wandered the earth millions of years ago at Morrisburg’s Prehistoric World. This interactive family friendly park allows visitors to step into the past and see what it would have been like to live with the dinosaurs. From the tiniest lizard to the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex Prehistoric world has them all and you can even take pictures with them.