United Empire Loyalists were the initial 1784 inhabitants of New Johnstown (later renamed Cornwall).
After the 8.5 year American Revolutionary War / the American War of Independence (from Great Britain) ended in September of 1783, eight consecutive Loyalist Townships were created along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River and five others along the Bay of Quinte to house some 80,000 refugees who desired to remain loyal to the British Crown and as a defence strategy against the Americans who had been invading what remained of British North America, seeking to enlarge their country.
The townships were “royal” in that they were named after British royalty from east to west according to date of birth. At their own request, the people were originally settled in communities according to ethnicity and religion. Cornwall was a Church of England and Protestant Anglophone community.
In 1933 the U.E.s were recognized for their prominent role in Canada’s development with the designation of a national historic event of Canada. In 1934 a Federal Government newly minted plaque was unveiled and placed in Cornwall’s Neo Gothic-style Post Office at the corner of Pitt and 2nd Streets. The United Empire Loyalist commemorative plaque was removed to the new 2nd and Sydney Street federal building/Post Office in 1955, when the former building was demolished to make way for the Seaway headquarters.
In May of 1995, Canada Post moved from 2nd and Sydney to Time Square; the Federal building became new home to the Library. For some reason the plaque was removed from the building and placed in storage and nearly forgotten. That is until a member of the SD & G Historical Society did some sleuthing and had it transferred, with the aid of our MP, to the Cornwall Community Museum, where it has since been housed for all to see, along with other Loyalist documents and research facilities.
Recently the plaque was officially re-dedicated at a public celebration outside the Cornwall Community Museum. The Wood House (the Museum building) was built for the Wood family, themselves United Empire Loyalists.
Don is a hometown photojournalist and videographer who creates content pertaining to a number of topics, notably good news, local history and social justice. Professionally he is the Manager & Associate Curator of the Cornwall Community Museum in Cornwall's waterfront park.
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