Cornish Heritage Day in Clarington

Just trying to catch up here…a new project has just come into focus…Cornish Heritage Day in Clarington. Yes, if you are descended from Cornish folk, or you have emigrated from Cornwall yourself, then this is going to be a great event to attend!

March 5th, in Cornwall, UK, is St. Piran’s Day (St. Piran being the patron saint of Cornwall, and tinners). So, to celebrate Cornwall and all its people, the Cornish flag will be raised on the town staff on March 5th where it will fly proudly all day. One of the reasons is this…. in the early years of the 1800’s, Cornish folk settled the front townships across the Lake Ontario shore from Hamilton Township (Cobourg area) through Hope Township (Port Hope area), Clarke Township (Newcastle area), Darlington Township (Bowmanville area) and into East Whitby Township (Oshawa area). Mail boxes all up and down our sideroads still bear the Cornish names of those first settlers. And so, to mark our Cornishness – a Cornish Heritage Day – the first of many, we hope!

On March 4th, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., there will be a celebration of all things Cornish at the Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre on Temperance Street in Bowmanville. There will be admission charged, but as the plans have not all been laid yet, that admission fee is $15. We will be enjoying pasties, saffron cake, tea and coffee and will be entertained by speaker(s) as well as an assortment of brochures, booklets and other material all about Cornwall through which you will be welcome to browse.

Not many people know they are Cornish, and of those who do, not many of them have ever set foot on Cornish soil. That’s too bad, because Cornwall is a lovely place. I like nothing better than going to Fowey and watching the boats in the harbour; or going to St. Austell and visiting the brewery and tasting their latest offering; or travelling over to Land’s End to see the channel and the Atlantic meet and broil; or visiting Eden, the renowned clay pit that has been established as a set of bio-domes in which plants from all over the world are grown. Native Cornish plants grow outside the domes, all labelled and described. There’s even a little train that will take you around the pit so you can see all that has been done.

There are other great places in Cornwall to visit too, especially your own ancestral areas. My ancestors came from two very different areas of Cornwall – some from the most northern parish in the county, Morwenstow, and some from the parish of St. Ewe, down near Mevagissey on the south coast.

On March 4th, we hope to have a smattering of information from all parts of the county so that you might get a glimpse of that area where your ancestors lived.

When I was a kid growing up in Ajax, Ontario, I was out playing in the dirt one day and a new kid on the block came along. We tried talking to one another but for the life of me I couldn’t understand half what she said. I asked her what language she was speaking and she said Cornish. I asked where that was from and she shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, Cornland I think.” We were both about 8 years old so she can be forgiven for not knowing much about geography. I did not hear the term “Cornish” again until I was an adult researching my ancestral roots, and the picture of her flashed into my mind.

For further information please contact me. Debra Sweetman is my partner in crime with this project. We put our heads together about a year ago and said we ought to do a St. Piran’s day here in Clarington, and so, true to our words we are doing it! How it turns out is anybody’s guess. I hope you will all show up and make it a roaring success! Tickets are available at the Sarah Jane Williams Heritage Centre, Temperance St, Bowmanville, $15 each. Don’t wait – they are going fast!