History comes alive in Cornwall

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Live the story as it comes to life! From May 20-22, Lamoureux Park will be the site of a celebration commemorating Ontario’s beginnings in 1784. Created and hosted by the SDG Historical Society through the Cornwall Community Museum, three days of historical exhibits and cultural performances will fill the park. The festival will bring together more than two hundred and fifty re-enactors, equipment, artifacts and activities representing three cultures that played an important role in the early history of the region: Aboriginal peoples (Mohawks), French Canadians and Loyalists (British, Scots, and Palatines). This is a “rain or shine” activity that is free to the public and open to all.

Few people traveling on Water Street in Cornwall realize that they are passing one of Ontario’s and Canada’s premier historic sites. On the shores 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 settle.

These United Empire Loyalists sided with Britain during the American Revolution. They left behind their homes and possessions in upper New York State to remain loyal to the Crown and relocate to the wilderness of Canada. It was here that the Loyalists had received land from the king for their service.

The party of five hundred settlers landed on that day in June 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 began its colonization of Upper Canada and beyond.

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 the War of 1812. Re-enactors will show life as it would have been two hundred years ago and provide weekend entertainment , including military maneuvers. Children in the public can dress up in the uniforms of British soldiers and practice with wooden muskets. The Voltigeurs de Québec regiment will also be there, offering bilingual service to visitors. A French-speaking town crier dressed in the French blue military uniform will announce the events as well as a British town crier dressed in his resplendent red tunic.

Begin the celebration of Cornwall 1784 on Friday by immersing yourself in French-Canadian culture by presenting an evening of music, dance and artisans sharing their proud heritage in Canada and this region. A Canadian evening of yesteryear will end the day with music and dance by various artists from Eastern Ontario and Quebec.

On Saturday evening, the Glengarry Highland Games will present a preview 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 with a rotating exhibit of basket making, rattle and drum makers, herbal medicine and the process of fur cleaning. A traveling troupe of singers and dancers will perform and explain the songs and their cultural significance, while engaging the crowd in their celebration by joining in the dancing.

This weekend celebration is the first time that the three cultures have come together in Cornwall to share their heritage. Whether you’re interested in history, want to enjoy top class entertainment or just enjoy a day out wandering among the exhibits, you need to be in Cornwall on May 20, 21 and 22. . The best thing of all for the weekend is that it’s free. The City of Cornwall, TDF Cornwall and many local businesses and organizations have made the celebration of Cornwall 1784 possible through generous donations.

Head to the park and see history come to life. For more information and a full schedule, go to the Facebook event at https://fb.me/e/1MpEfsX6M and search using the hashtag #Cornwall1784.

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