I had to drive into Montreal for a physical. I’m very lucky, and have had the same amazing Doctor in Westmount since 1984. I think it’s been ten years since he stopped accepting patients, and I’m forever grateful to the late Ivan Eaton for turning me onto a very special doctor.
I was born at the Royal Vic in Montreal, which is now closed.
Change of course is inevitable in life, but driving through many familiar streets it was as though the buildings were still there, but the people had all changed.
Montreal, chiefly because of language politics, has seen much more change than many communities.
Twelve years ago, when I pushed my ex-wife to choose Cornwall over Brockville for us to move to, I was very positive and optimistic about Cornwall. All my reasons were sound, but then the biggest factor to consider was something that I’d learn the hard way, and that it’s not buildings that make a community, but people.
There are plenty of pretty or beautiful places in the world, but they, like venomous snakes and spiders, can be deadly. Sometimes a culture or people just don’t mesh well with others.
Some communities are friendly and inviting. Some only to “certain” types of people, and some simply don’t get warm and fuzzy with new people.
What I discovered was that for the many positives of our city the culture is in fact toxic, as toxic as our water or Big Ben. Built on cursed ground, Cornwall was originally Pointes Malignes, it evolved with firm lines of who would live where and evolved with a sense of propriety by those there that truly was never inviting.
Looking back at our city historically there were many businesses that were locked out or had barriers put up to keep them out or make it so difficult that they’d simply find another place.
When I started CFN in 2009 I was warned about some of this, but never to the degree that I’ve seen and discovered, and honestly I never dug too hard to see what I have.
This is a community where if you wanted a job you had to be “approved”. Things haven’t changed much. Yes, you can fill in the minimum wage dead end jobs and get abused in the process, but hopes of competing for good jobs are very rare unless it’s a critical position such as a health care provider.
I’ve spoken with people that have lived here for twenty, thirty, and even forty years who share that they still don’t feel “local” or accepted, but tend to find pools of friends made of other outsiders.
It’s not that everyone is like this, but what happens is that peer pressure eventually damages or breaks new friendships or business relationships.
When CFN started I was very fortunate. Because of cronyism and corruption the bar was set so low that it was easy to succeed against the status quo.
What happened to my own business is that I eventually saw competitors voice complaints to the powers that be and the ended up with CFN being face washed, and eventually the totally bogus boycott inflicted via the city and its tentacles. Essentially we were held back while the competition could try and compete with us.
I’ve seen restaurants told that they would not get a new permit unless their ad on CFN was dropped. I’ve seen staffers intimidated to quitting. Heck, I’ve even seen a board member from a group I was on feel that their job was threatened for being on our board. I’ve seen a charity I am on the board of and essentially have saved and kept open have its funding cut to zero; many suggesting its solely because I’m on the board.
I’ve also seen good people move away from here after getting some of this treatment. One woman, with experience and degrees was disgusted watching a few jobs slip away to people that clearly did not have the qualifications or experience, but happen to sing for the suppers to the right clique member.
I’ve seen our revenues dwindle so growth became impossible. I see CFN get blocked from events and information which some might suggest would be illegal. I’ve seen businesses that play the game shutter or fail to compete as big box stores evolve or people travel more out of town to shop. And I’ve seen our few major events fail and fold simply because of our toxic culture.
In WWII German people in theatres would heckle the newsreels that would feed them “news” knowing it was hooey.
Here in Cornwall our City does the same via its Choosecornwall.ca site with many clearly knowing it’s spin and hooey.
Talking to people from the many diverse circles I travel in I get asked a lot of questions.
During the fourteen months I was arrested and then kept on conditions even though I was proven categorically innocent of the charges claimed by police and the crown. IE I was charged to for making threatening phone calls which Bell clearly showed I never made, a lot of people asked questions that to this date still haven’t been answered.
Frankly the most disturbing thing about Cornwall, a community I do not recommend any longer, at least until it cleans itself up, which is something that may never happen, is not that the bad guys and girls do what they do, but the utter fear and loathing that good people have of standing up to them. Until more people do that things will never change and we will never crest the 50,000 mark in population.
Home is not buildings or belongings. It’s people, friends, family, faces that make us smile and the time we spend with them whether it’s at home or at a public event or shopping.
There are real truths in our world that even the bad guys can’t hide from forever.
None of us are irreplaceable. There will be a last day for all of us at whatever we do, good or bad. Cemeteries are filled with amazing lives and stories long forgotten.
I know I’ve made my mark in trying to make “my home” a better place. Sometimes though it takes many marks to truly change something.
How many of you reading this that are here in Cornwall will see your loved ones move away, or yourself are contemplating moving away, or are closing your business?
Cliches or stereotypes only occur after repeated instances of happenings. After six years of seeing some very strange behavior repeat itself it becomes clear why the Cornwall brand is where it is.
Just ask Ryan Gosling about our City.
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