Skip to content


The early settlement of English- and French-speaking citizens helped to establish Cornwall’s rich bilingual character. This historic association of English and French language and culture working in harmony continues to live on in homes, schools and businesses throughout the community on a daily basis.

Cornwall was first settled in 1784 by United Empire Loyalists consisting of the officers and families of the First Battalion King's Royal Regiment of New York and a contingent of the 84th Royal Highland Emigrants. This group of disbanded soldiers and Loyalists, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Johnson, came to the scenic and fertile site, intent on building a new life.

The first official record of Cornwall’s francophone community dates to a population record from 1829 which showed 74 out of 812 Cornwallites were of French origin.Twenty years later, the census recorded that the number had jumped to 967. The first large-scale influx of francophones to Cornwall and the surrounding area took place between 1870 and 1890, due to the opening of textile and paper mills, and the overall industrialization of the City, with the subsequent availability of employment opportunities.  

According to 2011 Census figures, Cornwall residents identified their mother tongue and knowledge of official languages as follows:

 Mother tongue
 Non-official language2,480 
 English and French945 
 English and non-official language195 
 French and non-official language40 
 English, French and non-official language30 

(Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2011)

Knowledge of official languages
English only 25,185 
French only 510
English and French 19,590 
Neither English nor French 110 

(Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2011)

Detailed language spoken most often at home
English 37,550 
French 5,350 
Non-official languages 1,210 
English and French 830 
English and non-official language 405 
French and non-official language 20 
English, French and non-official language 35 

(Source: Statistics Canada, Census 2011)

For more information on Cornwall's language and demographics, please visit Statistics Canada's Census Profile page.

More information:

Click here to return to the Arts, Culture & Heritage page.