“Choose Cornwall”. I did. In fact, both my wife and I did. We came here to attend St. Lawrence College, (SLC) not knowing much about the area.You can look at tourism sites, review sites and city websites but you never know what kind of culture a place has until you’ve experienced it from the inside. This is a personal experience article. Meaning, you can agree, disagree, hate or love what I have to say. I’m not attacking anyone, I won’t name names so to speak. I just need people to understand this is in fact, the culture of Cornwall from an outsiders perspective.

Non Inclusive. When trying to volunteer services in years past for local charities through our entertainment service we were often turned away if even gotten back to. It sounds crazy to me, Cornwall has a never ending list of charities and used to have large-scale events for the community in the community.

However, what I learned quickly is that the people running these events have no intention of bringing in anything or anyone new. I should speak in the past tense about this, most of these community events have fizzled out and are no longer around. Instead, things have moved a little out of reach for the common folks of Cornwall to the walls of the NAV Centre where clicksters and politicians alike are safe from criticism and can pat backs in private. Oh, and invite their friends too of course.

So as the years go on and we graduate from S.L.C. we decide yeah, it’s a rough place to live, it’s a rough place to try and “plant roots” but still a bit ignorant to the culture we invest and buy a house. “Choose Cornwall” Right?

Well, dealing with the city when it comes to those matters was no more impressive than watching the same tired acts at those same tired and fizzled out events we tried to be involved in at the start of our journey. Different building inspectors, different interpretations of law, basically, a shit show from the start. Lesson learned. It was hard to take witnessing first-hand how unfair local inspectors treated different people and places. Need an liquor license? Better know a guy that knows “the” guy or be prepared to deal with countless weeks and months of red tape for your convenience.

You may even have to hire a lawyer to represent your business just to fight for equality. Well coming to the end of a five year mortgage is more like coming to the end of a sadistic marathon. One is left willing to throw it all away just to get out and survive. There is no consistency, little communication and lots of confusion with the staff of our city hall. But that’s what happens when you have a culture of giving critical jobs to unqualified friends and family. The connections run deep and it’s a huge problem.

As a journalism student at S.L.C. I recall sitting in a classroom with one of these individuals pretending to hold microphones and doing mock radio broadcasts.

I remember thinking how the Hell can anyone take this seriously? We’re paying thousands of dollars for an education and we’re sitting here pretending to have equipment that any other facility would have. The kicker, this soon-to-be city Councillor behaved as if it was just all fun and games. A great educational experience right? Well you just have to look at how long that program lasted to get where I’m going with this.

Repeat, that’s what happens when you have a culture of giving critical jobs to unqualified friends and family. The connections run deep and it’s a huge problem. Local trade-shows are another sticky point for the community. If you’re not on the good side of the hosts of these events, good luck getting in.

Yes, I’m speaking from personal experience only once again. Bridal Shows, don’t be too fancy or bring new technology that could outshine the local lifers. You won’t get another chance, even when you’re trying to pay your way in.

Pop Culture Shows? Well, again you better have an in or your out. Now, these kind folks will defend this culture as the fault of people who are voicing a concern. We’re negative, we’re haters and finally, we’re all jealous.

[bs-quote quote=”I’m here to set the record straight. We are sick and tired of trying to contribute to this community as students, home owners, entrepreneurs, etc. Only to be shot down in all directions by the closed door culture of Cornwall.” style=”style-8″ align=”center” color=”#1e73be” author_name=”Joe Boyer” author_job=”Someone that Chose Cornwall”][/bs-quote]


The few people who run the few events in our beloved little city are killing any real growth because of petty politics and favoritism. Yes, there is a clique. It is real and disgusting. It needs to be purged for this city to have any real chance of becoming what it should be.

It starts at your City Hall and trickles all the way down to the charities, radio stations and newspapers. Being an election year,this is now more important than ever.

[bs-quote quote=”Cornwall has so much potential for so many things yet none of these things exist here.
Speaking from the perspective of a student, property owner, tax payer and entrepreneur, this is why Choose Cornwall is a myth, a bitter lie.

I’ve lived here long enough now to know this from all angles.” style=”style-8″ align=”center” color=”#1e73be” author_name=”Joe Boyer” author_job=”Someone that Chose Cornwall”][/bs-quote]


The slogan should be as follows. Choose Cornwall if: You’re willing to pay (bribe) your way through red tape; you’re directly related to someone of importance in the community events, (insert city hall family/friends). You’re willing to not voice your opinion and call out corruption.

Outsiders come to Cornwall, stay just long enough to lean this and leave without ever turning back. I’m sure there will be rebuttal to this piece and I say, fair enough. I’m sure there is 1 or 2 feel good stories of outsiders that came here and somehow managed the troubled tides. To them I applaud and say this, continue on and return to this community what it so graciously gave to you. It is a rare occurrence.

So in conclusion, there is a problem in our community, in my community and it needs to be resolved. I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit here quietly and not fight each and every day for equality and what my taxes are going to.

You should too. It starts by cleaning house in this years election. Get involved, say your piece. We’ve had enough of glory-day pro-sport brown noses trying to get that next selfie with the boys of the local radio station, family favors from council members, back door deals and jobs being handed over to incompetent people.

I chose Cornwall, I continue to choose Cornwall, I support this city just as much as the die-hards out there saying that people like me are just haters and jealous and all sorts of nasty things. These are the people that don’t want to see innovation, growth and change. They want the status quo. The same vendors at shows, the same performers at concerts the same members in council. The same city as it is now.

I’m not a hater, I’m an optimist. I see the potential of this city, I see the people living the same struggles I went through and I want to contribute to help make it better. Even with all these barriers there are still people trying to tear them down and open the eyes of this sleeping city. We all deserve better.

Better Council, better events, better business. Most importantly better quality of life. It is possible, there are examples out there. They came from outsiders. What a concept eh?


  1. Jamie don’t print this. Cornwall is a closed up town and even though I was born and raised in Cornwall I am an outsider and always was. I was never a part of that town at all and I left in the mid 70s for Ottawa. I tried the government exam at the Civic Complex and I was one of the top 10 and got hired permanently. That would never have happened in Cornwall not in your wildest of dreams.

  2. WOW!!


  3. Well said! I moved to Cornwall in 2012. I was fortunate to become the head golf professional at the Cornwall Golf & C.C. and made a lot of contacts. I agree 100% with this article. If not for the contacts I made as the head pro it would have been harder to get things done. Your right, it’s who you know unfortunately in this town.

  4. While I no longer live in Cornwall I remain positive for the future of Cornwall. Untapped potential is an understatement for this area of the province. I strongly believe that every vote in the next election should endorse someone who has the energy and courage to effect real change. A brand new slate of fresh councillors and a mayor with vision.

  5. Like all small towns there is the small town mentality that is very difficult to purge. For my part I came here from Montreal twenty years ago and never looked back. Cornwall is doing well for a recovering red brick mill town what will drive it into oblivion however is out of control taxation.

  6. Absolutely agree.

    The cliques start at city hall, with high taxes these idiots want to put in crap that will just raise taxes more and bring us nothing…. round abouts and edible weeds to name two.

    I even question if our edible weeds councillor pays property taxes…. seems to have no clue!!

  7. My wife and I moved here about a year ago with our two young children. After reading this article, it makes me wonder whether we made a good decision coming here. I do not work in Cornwall, so I have not had the chance to ‘integrate’ into the community much, but my wife who works here has had a tougher time integrating: She was born in Mexico and she is still learning English.

  8. Author

    Hola Tony. Welcome to Cornwall! If you or your wife need any assistance or have any questions please email me at jamie@cornwallfreenews.com

    The greatest thing about Cornwall is that the biggest problems are a few corrupt political types that will hopefully fall in the election this year.

    This community is in transition and sometimes transitions can be bumpy.

    There’s an opportunity to make a stronger, more inviting, and progressive community if people make it happen!


  9. Tony Belanger I know what you and your wife are going through. My husband is a Lebanese Christian Maronite and we had plenty of problems in Cornwall and the people never came to accept him except for a few. We went through a great deal and we moved back to Ottawa. I went to a school that used to exist in Cornwall where I went to school with Mexican girls, etc. Welcome Tony to you and your wife

  10. The NAV centre is where the clique members meet. I see them everyday.

  11. Author

    Doesn’t that make sense? A woman running for mayor who holds court at a facility that doesn’t pay its fair share in municipal taxes and now sucks cash out of the community. Yup. And I’m the bad guy, lol…..

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