The Cornwall Public Library’s Genealogical & History Collection

June 24, 2012

Cornwall, Ontario, is home to the Cornwall Public Library and the Cornwall Room.  The library is on the northwest corner of 2nd St. and Sydney St.  It is a very large building and not to hard to spot.  If you enter from the front you have to walk this very long hallway to get to the main part of the library. 

Cornwall Public Library in Cornwall, Ontario

You can turn right onto to Sydney St. from 2nd St. and left into the parking area behind the library.  You will have to pay for parking but it is reasonable.  Make sure you have quarters.  Follow the signs and road over to the parking lot which is to the west as you enter with a little manuevering through the parking lot below.  There are one way signs and parking restrictions, so watch out.

The backside of the Cornwall Public Library

The library entrance is through the doors in the back of the building to the left of the loading area.   Go through the door and you come to a hallway that enters another hallway and then you turn to your right to enter the library.  The References desks are straight ahead. 

I stopped there and asked where they kept their genealogical collection and was lead to an area to the far side of the main floor.  There were study desks and tables along that wall.  She took me to the stacks where some books for genealogy were shelved.  It is good to know that some items are outside the Cornwall Room.

I inquired about a history room and was told it was only open certain hours: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 2 to 4 pm. Here is the library phone number if you have questions (613) 932-4796. 

It was Tuesday, June 5th!  So this meant I would have to rearrange my schedule and come back the next day.  The librarian was kind and wrote down the hours for me which I have shared with you.  These hours are not on the website. 

The CPL has a new website at:  http://library.cornwall.on.ca/  It is not working very well today.  To get to the CPL Archive area click on eResources and you will see Local Interest.  The only tab working at the moment is the SDG Online and the ones on top.  The CPL Archives and Surname List are giving me the page of death.  I actually had trouble with the older website when I first went to their webpage.  I have to admit the blog about Freddy the Bear is a riot and good for a laugh  http://cornwallyac.blogspot.ca/

I returned the next day, Wednesday and was early enough that I grabbed a book from the stacks in the Reference area shown to me the day before.  In the picture below they are the first two sections of the first bookcase.  There were some cemetery books, histories and more.

The Reference Section of the Cornwall Library, some possible genealogical titles

The book I removed was: “Bowering’s Guide to Eastern Ontario, A Cultural and Historical Companion.”  Whoa! This is a tour book and historical guide.  I made myself comfortable in some cushy chairs right in front of the Cornwall Room doors and began to review it.

The contents are:  The Perch Route, The Fur Trade Route, Glengarry Higlands Roads, Touring Cornwall, The Loyalist Front Route, The Lost Villages Adventure, the Apple-Cheddar Route, Armchair Traveling, Local Historical and Heritage Groups, Travel and Tourist Information Centers and an Index of Place Names.  By Quarry Press and published in 1992.  Certainly a lot closer to the present time than the “Up and Down the Glens” by Dorothy Dumbrille done in 1954.  I enjoyed her book and have a copy which I found at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I was overjoyed with this find and am in the process of ordering a copy to review in depth.  Too bad I didn’t have it before I visited Glengarry.  

The Cornwall Room, Cornwall Public Library

The Cornwall Room is at the front of the library in the corner.  You enter the library go up to the Reference desk turn left and head to the windows and you will find the Cornwall Room on the right in the corner.   

Much to my relief the volunteer arrived at exactly 2 pm and opened the doors.  I waited a few minutes to give her some time to settled in.  She was very nice and friendly.  I gave her a copy of my McDonald booklet to be added to the collection.   

Apparently you can enter the room, settle in at a table and pull books off the stacks and not have to wait for the attendant.  This I did happily.  The volunteer really should reshelve the books because one cemetery book was mislocated and it took her awhile to find it. 

She gave me a brochure: “Genealogy and Local History Material available at The Cornwall Public Library.  This brochure is a little out of date but it does have good information.

The brochure describes the collection in this manner:

  • CPL Computer Catalogue – all holdings are listed.
  • Cornwall Room:  has books, photographs, papers of a local or regional content and that require special protection. Access is restricted and requires the presences of an informed attendant during limited hours.
  • General Reference Materials are located in the Reference Collection area of the library and are open to use during library hours.
  • Microfilm and fiche readers and printers are availabe and it is best to make an appointment to use.  The limit is three hours per day per patron. 

Microfilm:

  • Census records from 1851 to 1901 for Stormont, Dundas and Glengary.
  • Paris registers from the S.D.&G region with differing dates.
  • Newspapers – Standard-Freeholder from 1883 to present and some of the Cornwall Observer and Reporter for dates about 1876. 

Microfiche:

  • Land Records from the Ontario Archives by family name and location of property dating from the mid 1700′s to the late 1800′s.

Books

  • Numerous holdings of compiled genealogies
  • Historical writings for S.D. & G. 
  • City statistics, documents etc. for municipal departments
  • Histories of local businesses, churches and organizations
  • City directories, telephone books and voter’s lists.

Vertical Files: 

  • Newspaper clippings about Cornwall and other areas of an historical nature.

Cemetery Listings/Obituaries

  • Recorded transcriptions of cemeteries in S.D. & G.
  • Copies of Obituary notices from local newspapers various dates

Local History Name Index

  • A partially completed indexing of un-indexed holdings in their collection.  Specifically related to the Local History and Cornwall Room Collections.  Listings are by family name with call number, page and book.

Example from one of my search: 

The Macdonell family in Canada – author Morice, A.G., Location: Cornwall Room, Publisher: Canadian Historical Review, Pub. Date 1929, Call Number LHCR929.2 MOR.

Then a list of names with pages:  G.M. Adam 18, Donald Aenas 27, etc.

Historical Maps

  • Several maps from the area from the late 1700′s into the late 1800′s.  Many show land owners and or occupants.

As you can see it is not real detailed yet it is a start.  The Stormont GenWeb site has this to say about the holdings at the Cornwall Public Library:  http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onstormo/info-local-cornwallplib.html  Very close to the same information. 

So this means a thorough search of the CPU’s online catalogue on the subjects of your interest and with attention to the location of the item in the library.  This way you know what you can access at regular library hours and what you will have to plan to review when the Cornwall Room is open. 

I live in the Pacific Northwest of the USA so calling International long distance is something I shy away from.  I would probably default to their email: generalmail@library.cornwall.on.ca  write in the subject line:  Inquiry from CPL website.  You might have to try several times to get a response.  They never answered my inquiry. 

I have not given specific source references, like books and cemetery compilations because  that could get really complicated.  There are many for Glengarry as well as Stormont and Dundas, not to mention Prescott and Russell. 

You can start with these two website to get an idea of what is published and then study library and archive websites to see what they hold:

The City of Cornwall website is amazing:  http://www.cornwall.ca/en/webadmin/publiclibrary.asp

While I was studying the Cornwall Room collection a lady entered who seemed very knowledgeable about the area.  She and the volunteer seems to know each other and were discussing a cemetery reading project.  It sounded wonderful what was happening in identifying graves at a local church.  I was to learn that she was from the Saint Laurent Genealogical Society (it really should be written in French) located in Cornwall.  I had visited this society several days before and will write about them in the next post. 

This conversation between the two ladies tells me that a big missing part of my visit to Glengarry is the personal connections with the people who know the history and genealogy of the area.  There is hope, for I did meet some really nice, helpful people.  I just needed more time.


An Overview: Dundas, Stormont and the city of Cornwall, Ontario

June 24, 2012

When the sign for Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry appeared, I knew I was at the first part of the united counties and that was Dundas.  I was heading east so next would be Stormont and then Glengarry, then Quebec.  The sign on the left reads:  Marine Coast Station Road.  So we have at least an idea were the sign is located on Hwy #2.

Welcome to Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry

This timeline is courtesy of the Stormont GenWeb Page:

  • 1788 to  October of 1792:  The area was the District of Lunenburg
  • In 1792 it became the Eastern District and included the future counties of Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott, Russell, Leeds, Grenville and Carleton.
  • 1800 the Counties of Leeds, Grenville and Carleton were separated and became the Johnstown District.
  • 1816 Prescott and Russell became the Ottawa District.
  • 1850 the districts were abolished that is when it became the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry up to the present.

    1885 Map of the United Counties

Trying to compare this map with a current maps is rather interesting.  The Ontario locater website might help.  It can tell you what cities and towns are in what areas:  http://www.geneofun.on.ca/ontariolocator/index.html

My fascination with the St. Lawrence River kept me on Hwy #2 and it took me through Iroquois, Morrisburg, and past the Upper Canada Village and just at the eastern boundary of that is the beginning of Stormont.  I only crossed through the southern area of Dundas and Stormont on my way to Cornwall.   I did not venture into the interior. 

Here is a link to the Dundas County Genweb site for more information, history, maps and sources.   http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ondundas/  Dundas was made up of townships.  Starting on the western side there is Mountain above Matilda which borders the St. Lawrence.  To the east is Winchester above Williamsburg which borders the St. Lawrence. 

The Dundas GenWeb site needs a host.  I am tempted but it would mean I would have to buff up on the area and I am lagging behind.  How about you, can you help by volunteering to host the Dundas GenWeb Site?  We all need to rally and preserve the history of our ancestors for there are forces working against that at this time.   

From there I traveled through the lower part of Stormont passing through the towns of Ingleside, Long Sault and on into Cornwall.  There is an interesting drive around Long Sault that might be fun, sigh!  Here is a link to the Stormont Genweb site for more information including history, maps and many sources: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onstormo/index.html 

The former townships of Stormont on the western side are Osnabruck next to the St. Lawrence and Finch northwest of it.  They are followed by Cornwall which touches the St. Lawrence River and Roxborough northwest of it.  This means I traveled along the southern parts of Osnabruck and Cornwall townships.

Be advised that all these former counties have had changes to their governmental structures in the past few years so if you are looking for these townships on a new map you might not find them.  It is now north and south Dundas, Stormont and Glengarry. 

The city of Cornwall would be used as my base of operations.  It was located on the border right next to my real target, the former Glengarry County.   http://www.visit.cornwall.on.ca/  I am still trying to learn more about the origins of my great-grandfather Archibald McDonell, his wife Mary and her father and mother Alexander John and Ellen McPherson McDonell.  My Aunt Miriam, my dad’s sister, believed Archie came from the Glengarry area of Ontario.  So I was in the area to learn what I could about the records and research. 

This is a major website for the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry and it takes you to the municipal pages and more:  http://www.sdg.on.ca/

As I traveled along the St. Lawrence there were several bridges across to New York.  Cornwall has its own very amazing bridge called the Sea Way International Bridge.  It is very impressive and if you are not careful when driving on Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall you can end up on it rather than on the streets of Cornwall that head to the downtown area.  The picture below is the beginning of the bridge and it is massive.

The Bridge to New York, in Cornwall looking north on Brookdale

I stopped by the Tourism center (Pitt and Water St. northside of the street) (613) 938-4748 or 1-800-937-4748 and it is right next door to the Cornwall Jail which was also the old Lunenburg District Courthouse.  Here is a better picture of the plaque than my photo can reveal:   http://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/2594296840/  This is just across the street from the big beautiful park.  The ladies in the Tourism center were very helpful. 

I got more maps of Cornwall:

  • Cornwall and the Seaway Valley Map 2012 Edition. 
  • United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry map which has maps of each of the towns in the area except Cornwall.  Love this one.
  • Cornwall and Seaway Valley Tourism map.  This map is helpful but thin in information. It is one of those that you tear off a pad. 
The Tourist Centre (left) and the Jail

The Lamoureux Park on the waterfront in Cornwall is very lovely but a little hard to figure out where to go and park your car.  http://www.cornwall.ca/en/recreation/LamoureuxPark.asp  

There are traffic lights along Water St. and left turn lanes if you are going west. I think it was York St. where I turned left into the parking lot for the Cornwall Community Museum.  Find the Clock Tower and go west till you see the museum and turn in.  You can also park in the Civic Centre area.  Just read the signs to be sure you are not in a restricted zone.  There is a map of the park on a board somewhere in the park giving the pathways and more.  I wish I had more time to explore it was very pretty.  This link gives some idea of how it is designed:  http://www.waterfronttrail.org/maps/wt-7_06.pdf 

The Park and the Bridge in Cornwall

Somewhere in this area near the Civic Centre,  Sir John Johnson and the Loyalists were supposed to have landed and proceeded to settle in the area, but so far I have not been able to pin that down.  Anyone have an idea?

UPDATE:  Try this site Plaque #21 – Location:  In L’ameurieux Park at the foot of Augustus Street, Cornwall “The Founding of Cornwall.”  You will have to scroll down:  http://www.cornwall-lacac.on.ca/

Cornwall’s Clock Tower on Water Street

In the next post I will describe my visits to several of the genealogical repositories of Cornwall. After that, I will write about my tour of the former Glengarry County. 

The St. Lawrence River from the park in Cornwall looking across to the reservation island


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