What Makes a City Home by Jamie Gilcig – Thoughts on a Rainy Day in Cornwall OCT 1, 2015

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.

You can post your comments below.



  1. Jamie I love this article and I agree 100% and well beyond what you wrote about Cornwall. I never felt like Cornwall was my home even as a child growing up in that town I wanted to leave as soon as I could and I like Ottawa very much. Like you said it isn’t the buildings but the people and it is the people of Cornwall who made their town into a place that nobody wants to live in. I worked with many good people here in Ottawa and one had his mother living on Champlain Drive in Cornwall and she had a nice house and left Cornwall – Tim and his girlfriend moved her back to Ottawa. It has been almost a year since we set foot in Cornwall and I don’t miss it one bit. About Montréal I feel at home even with “les séparatistes” “nationalistes” I love Québec and that is true history along with Acadie. I love the French people very much and feel right at home among them. I told you what I could about Cornwall and I knew all about that since I was a young child. I would never ever live in Cornwall ever again and that is the truth. I have had my fill with the cup runneth over with the might strange mentality of the people and I personally feel superior over all of them. One teacher that mom babysat for (I was either 11 or 12 at the time said the same words to mom that I had a superior attitude over the people of Cornwall and that sure is true about my personality. I told you so Jamie and I meant it and still do. I don’t lie I tell it straight like it is.

  2. Personally I love Cornwall. I can’t live in bigger cities (Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, etc), they’re just too big for me. You have to learn to accept the little quirks, etc. about where you live. That doesn’t mean you have to like what goes on. To say Cornwall is the only city, town with problems is just wrong. It is not the people who make Cornwall a less than desirable place to live at the present. It’s the cliques, two-faced city council, etc that makes Cornwall have the problems and reputation it has. Until changes are made I can understand why people tend to avoid Cornwall. As for Montreal and Quebec—-no thanks. They seem to have a superior attitude, thinking they are better than anyone else, something I cannot tolerate. And someone should teach them what turn signals are.

  3. Author

    Hugger you seem conflicted. Either we accept what you call “little quirks” or we try to improve our community which for many includes destroying the clique culture and creating an inviting city that gives people an honest chance to earn an living and contribute to their community.

  4. Not conflicted at all. But I do agree with your points of October 1, 2015 at 7:40 pm. Yes, we try to improve our community by destroying what has torn it apart. But at the same time you can accept the little quirks that make our community and try to build up from that.

  5. Hugger the clique are people just like you and I except that they are wealthy and they control the town like a “dictator” and this is the truth. This is what controlled Domtar for many years as well as all businesses. What is the difference between the clique and Sadam Hussein and such people and the only difference is that the clique is not murdering people to our knowledge but control the town where people have no say at all and hurt people where they cannot do business just like Jamie’s situation and believe me there are many people out there who tried to make a business in Cornwall and found out the truth. We were warned by neighbors about making a business and my husband commuted between Ottawa and Cornwall for years. People do have to kiss the keester of the clique to get employed. About living in big cities you are from Ottawa and should be used to living here. There are some things that I don’t like but in general I am very well and happy. We do see Ottawa has gone down like society in general and the people of Ottawa were more intelligent and different than what they are today. Ottawa is growing and especially if they bring refugees over and my super told me today that it is the intention of Mayor Jim Watson.

  6. Jules….never ever say I am like the clique. I despise the implication. The clique are not everyday people. They are spoiled rotten people who think they are better than everyone else and try to hold others down.

    I think you give the clique more power than they actually have. Having to kiss someone’s ass to get a job has never been my thing and I hope no one else does it either. If that’s the case then the elite can kiss my butt and I’ll say they’re losers and should have better things to do.

    I may be from Ottawa. But that doesn’t mean I like it. It’s nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

  7. Hugger and folks I went on many sites and one thing that some people have mentioned and they said that you have to change the ways of your municipality before you can change things at the federal level or provincial level. I have always believe that the clique in Cornwall must be sent packing and get rid of the entire bunch of those thieves, liars, losers and everything else hat I would love to name. The clique must be literally kicked out of Cornwall in order to clean house. There is no other alternative except to start in that direction.

  8. Hugger I will say one good thing about Cornwall and that is since Frosty the Showman showed up I have not stopped laughing at all the insanity going on down in crazy town Cornwall. I am laughing myself to pieces just now. When Frosty was campaigning as a councellor he kept getting black outs and calling ambulances to come and deliver him to the hospital. Frosty gets into a mess with the River Kings that he is supposed to own. Frosty makes a fool of himself while representing Storm Realty. Frosty gets into trouble in Québec and if that’s not bad enough goes and defrauds a rich Yankee from California who purchased a home in Nicaragua where Frosty had his slippery paws into this crazyness. Now Frosty with all his insanity and I mean the word insanity has gone off to Eastern Europe where all the insanity is going on. LOL LOL. Frosty should have booked himself a trip to Syria and then he would be able to make everyone laugh about himself and his hometown Cornwall. I lguarantee you Hugger that I am laughing to beat the band. The old Cornwall General Hospital needs to be turned into a “loonie farm” for the likes of Frosty the Showman. Hugger put a smile and laughter into you and stop taking things on a personal level.

  9. Easier said than done in changing a city’s thinking or getting rid of the bad things. We thought we had started with the last municipal election. But it looks like we are no farther ahead. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  10. Author

    Hugger we are ahead in some ways. Baby steps as long as we’re moving forward. My personal issue is that I will not spend another five years championing causes unless the community starts to gel and move forward together. I’ve shown that change can happen, but it takes a village to build a city.

  11. Yes, baby steps. But the one step forward, two step back dance is getting tiring.

  12. Jamie and Hugger you have to hang in there in order to change Cornwall for the better. If things do not change for the better this time then it is time to throw in the towel. Jamie you lived in big cities all your life and Hugger is from Ottawa and both of you went from a big city to a farm. LOL LOL. ROLF! I am still laughing about Frosty the Showman – what a nut case and I am headed that way as well. Honestly I am telling you all the truth you have to change things at the local level before you can change thngs at the provincial and federal levels and I am telling all the people of Cornwall out there CHANGE YOUR WAYS AND GET EDUCATED AND GET INVOLVED AND CHANGE FOR THE BETTER OR ELSE CORNWALL IS FINISHED. YOU HAVE TO GET RID OF THE CLIQUE. There is no other way to go and that is it. There is also the problem of international crime with the smuggling of drugs, cigarettes, booze and people and this has to end pronto. There should be a heavy cop force out there combatting this stuff or else things will worsen and I mean that fully. Stop cowing down to the clique and get rid of them and all illegal activities. Start being proud of your town or it is gone for good.

  13. Hugger Lez lied his way to be mayor and threw Diane Shay under the bus. What is needed as mayor and council are an educated bunch with brains and knowledge and when I read these posts I see some good people here: Mr. Samler, Mr. Oldham and yes you too Hugger and Jamie of course. Furtz get our there in your area of the woods and make yourself known I think you are a talented person you are a professional engineer even with all the jokes of the flying spaghetti monster and all you are intelligent. There has to be a change from those with no education and no knowlege and cow down to the clique and the clique has to be run out of town literally.

  14. I guess some people have nothing better to do than reply to comments just for the sake of reading themselves in a publication. Yes, Cornwall is a small city and should not be compared to Ottawa and Montreal. This is a place where people are friendly in both official languages. You may from time to time experience negative encounters with people whom you you may not agree with but so what. I’m from Cornwall but lived away for 35 yrs and returned here to my roots to retire. I have absolutely no regrets.

    What other medium sized Metropolitan area such as ours is as safe to walk the streets no matter what time of day or night. We do not have biker gangs, street gangs and organised crime that scare its citizens into staying home especially after dark. Do you read newspapers from out of town? If so, check out the police blotters.We have good decent police officers patrolling our city, a good fire department and a city council that is trying to provide us with an excellent environment to live in.

    Its so easy to criticize. Maybe you should think twice about playing the devils advocate and concentrate at the positives.

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