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.

Glengarry Fencibles

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

  • Bishop Strachan
  • Cornwall Canal
  • Inverarden
  • Right Reverend John Strachan 1778-1867
  • United Empire Loyalists

Cornwall Historic Walking Tour

The Historic Walking Tour is made up of 42 plaques that profile a different event or milestone in Cornwall’s rich history using colourful illustrations by renowned Cornwall artist Pierre Giroux and research from local historian Lily Worrall.  Individually each plaque is impressive, yet together they form a tapestry that weaves throughout the area.

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.