History Comes Alive at Cornwall 1784

May 6, 2022
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario – History will come to life in Lamoureux Park with a celebration commemorating how Ontario began in 1784.

Cornwall 1784 Celebration

Created and organized by the SDG Historical Society through the Cornwall Community Museum, Cornwall 1784 will involve three days of historical displays and cultural performances from May 20 to May 22. The festival will bring together over two hundred and fifty reenactors, equipment, artifacts, and activities representing three cultures that played significant roles in the area’s early history: the Indigenous peoples (Mohawks), the French-Canadians, and the Loyalists (British, Scottish, and Palatines). This is a “rain or shine” activity that is free to the public and open to all.

Few people travelling down Water Street in Cornwall realize they are passing by one of Ontario and Canada’s key historic sites. On the banks of the St. Lawrence River near what is now Lamoureux Park, two hundred and thirty-eight years ago, a group of exiles from the United States landed to make a new home. These United Empire Loyalists had sided with Great Britain in the American Revolution. They left behind their homes and belongings in Upper New York State to stay loyal to the Crown and move to the wilderness of Canada. It was here that the Loyalists had been granted land by the King for their service.

The group of five hundred settlers landed that June day in 1784 led by Sir John Johnson and made up of officers, soldiers, and their families. They faced a forested wilderness and years of hardship but from there, the roots of what would become Ontario began and Canada started its settlement of Upper Canada and beyond.

Weekend events

An exciting weekend of events is planned for this celebration. Lamoureux Park becomes a historic military encampment with one camp representing the Loyalists of 1784 and another one, the War of 1812. Re-enactors will show life as it would have been two hundred years ago and provide entertainment over the weekend including military maneuvers. Children from the audience can dress up in British soldier uniforms and drill with wooden muskets. The Voltigeurs regiment from Quebec will also be part of the event providing a bilingual service for visitors. A French speaking Towne Crier dressed in the French Blue military uniform will announce events along with a British Towne Crier dressed in his resplendent red tunic.

Starting off the Cornwall 1784 Celebration on Friday by getting immersed in French-Canadian culture presenting an evening of music, dance and artisans sharing their proud heritage in Canada and in this area. Une soiree d’antan Canadienne will wrap up the day with music and dance by various entertainers from Eastern Ontario and Quebec.

On Saturday, the Heritage Village opens. Organizer Jean-Yves Lemoine, curator of the Cornwall Community Museum, is overwhelmingly pleased with the number of historic, genealogy and cultural groups that will take part in the Village.

Groups from across SDG will be set up with information and demonstrations of their traditions of crafts, arts, dancing, and music. Les Filles du Roi (Kings’ Daughters) Choir in period costumes will perform during the weekend and host a display booth. Other groups include Généalogie et archives St-Laurent, SD&G Historical Society, North Native American Travelling College, ACFO SDG/Centre Charles-Emile-Claude, Sir John Johnson Manor House, Loyal Orange Lodge, Glengarry Pioneer Museum Dunvegan, Glengarry Nor’Wester’s and Loyalist Museum, Friends of Crysler Farm Battlefield, Bishop’s House Glengarry Fencibles Trust of St-Raphael’s, South Dundas Historical Society, Glengarry Historical Society, Ontario Power Generation, Heritage-Patrimoine Cornwall, History of Railway in SD&G, United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada Dominion Branch and St-Lawrence Branch.

On Saturday evening, the Glengarry Highland Games will present a taste of the Games with a mini tattoo featuring pipe bands, the famous MacCulloch Dancers, Scottish fiddlers, and great Celtic entertainment.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Mohawk culture will be in the spotlight with The North Native American Traveling College (NNATC) of Akwesasne featuring a rotating display of basket making, rattlers and drums makers, medicinal herbs, and fur cleaning process. A travel troop composed of singers and dancers will perform and explain the songs and their cultural significance as well as get the crowd involved in their celebration by joining in the dance.

This weekend celebration is the first time all three cultures have joined together in Cornwall to share their heritage. Whether you are interested in history, want to enjoy first-class entertainment, or just enjoy a day outside wandering among the displays, you need to be in Cornwall on May 20, 21 and 22. The best thing of all for the weekend is that it is free.

The City of Cornwall, the Cornwall TDF and numerous local businesses and organizations have made the Cornwall 1784 Celebration possible through generous donations.

Additional information

For more information and a complete program about Une célébration de l’amitié  | Cornwall 1784 |  A Celebration of Friendship, please check out the Cornwall 1784 Facebook event page and search using hashtag #Cornwall1784.

Start Your Adventure Here

Looking for other fun things to do in Cornwall? Check out the activities and events on Cornwall Tourism website and ask for your copy of the 2022 Visitor Guide.

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