Ontario’s first-ever celebration of its founders will be taking place in just two weeks in Cornwall.
The 1784 celebration is a free event that will honour culture from the three founding groups of Ontario: the Mohawks of Akwesasne, the United Empire Loyalists (UEL), and French Canadians.
The Loyalists first landed in what is now Cornwall on June 6, 1784, at the outbreak of the American Revolution. They remained in what would become Cornwall and spread into the surrounding area to form other towns like Martintown.
Over 26 organizations will be set up in 40 booths at the fair. The 1784 celebration will have dedicated events and entertainment for each Loyalist, French Canadian and indigenous culture. The Cornwall Community Museum will be offering walking tours and free tours of the museum itself. Events will be held in English, French and the language of the Mohawk people.
Cornwall Community Museum’s senior curator, Jean-Yves Lemoine, has been planning the 1784 celebration since December, and it will have attendees will be traveling back in time to visit a historical re-enactment of the Loyalists’ camp when they first arrived in Canada.
There’ll be 140 reenactors from Quebec and Ontario. To maintain authenticity the reenactors are not permitted to leave the camp to bathe and will be cooking their food over a fire. Visitors can explore the camp to witness what life was like over 230 years ago and learn local history. Anyone can sit in the camp with the reenactors to learn history in both French and English.
The reenactors’ first show will be at 2 p.m. on Friday, May 20. Reenactors will demonstrate different maneuvers throughout the weekend including a cannon launch, the Battle of Crysler’s Farm which took place during the War of 1812, and scenes from a civil war that took place from 1775 to 1783, according to Lemoine.
Female reenactors will be set up in traditional roles cooking the food for the camp and teaching visitors about the historic cooking techniques and utensils.
A wi-fi hotspot will be set up for genealogy societies to do research on the spot for visitors. Separate genealogy societies will be present for French Canadians, Loyalists and Iroquois.
The Akwesasne people will host seven booths demonstrating traditional practices for visitors. There will be a station explaining how to clean, cut, and prepare a sturgeon fish. Other stations include oar carving, basket making and traditional fur cleaning, including stretching and drying.
The celebration fair will take place at Lamoureux Park starting at 5p.m. Friday, May 20, going through to Sunday.