The History of the Chamber

Close to 130 years ago, a group of prominent Cornwall businessmen came together and formed an organization committed to the business affairs of the professional community.

One of Ontario’s oldest business organizations, the Cornwall Chamber’s roots can be found in the late 19th century. The City of Cornwall was, at that time, an important centre of commerce, strategically located on the mighty St. Lawrence River between Montreal and Toronto. It was a centre of activity along a bustling waterfront as ships loaded with goods plied the waterway and businesses flourished in the city.

Predictably in this burgeoning commercial centre, the need for a business organization recognized by the merchants of the day and in 1890, they established Cornwall Board of Trade. Dry goods merchant and prominent businessman, John McIntyre, was named its first President and today, that organization is known as the Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Cornwall Chamber is the principal voice for industry and commerce across the region. It is an advocate on matters of concern such as taxation, local purchasing policies and economic renewal. It is an agent that provides venues for area firms to showcase goods and services to a broad spectrum of consumers. It is dedicated to its fundamental purpose: to promote the economic growth and prosperity of the City of Cornwall.

Close to 500 businesses and individuals make up the Chamber’s growing membership and in a City of less than 50,000 it is an enviable number. In response to this growing membership, the Chamber maintains a focus on activities and programs that support members. It presents a broad range of professional development seminars along with key networking events.

Highlights include:

• Advocating on issues that impact the business community
• Trade shows that showcase products and services to thousands of area consumers.
• Establishing Heart of the City, an initiative that has seen close to $50 million in a broad range of urban revitalization projects.
• Hosting the Ontario Chamber of Commerce annual convention, judged one of the most successful ever presented.
• Bringing the South African High Commissioner to the City, an event that may create positive alliances with that country.
• Welcoming Ambassadors from Ireland and the Republic of Korea
• A driving force in the creation of an international and unique Tri Chamber Alliance

As it moves forward in the 21st century, the Cornwall Chamber will continue its commitment to the business community and the community at large. It is a commitment that has firmly established it as the region’s voice for business.

Join over 500+ members from your community! Become a member of the Cornwall & Area Chamber of Commerce today