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From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns

A Comparative History of Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York, 1784-2001

Claire Puccia Parham

Publication Year: 2004

From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns adds a new dimension to the debate over the perceived differences between American and Canadian society. This fascinating case study examines two communities separated by the St. Lawrence River: Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York, from the end of the Revolutionary War to the present. Moving from the struggles of early settlers to industrialization and beyond, Claire Puccia Parham chronicles how the residents of both areas created similar social, political, and economic institutions because of their peripheral locations in a capitalist world system and their inherent congregational and democratic values. These distinctive views often brought them into conflict with national leaders.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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p. v

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p. vii

I wish to thank the many people who assisted me with this project. I am indebted to my husband, Edward, whose love and support made this book possible; to my parents who have always believed in me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams; and to my daughters, Eve and Annabelle, who...

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pp. 1-6

Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York are two towns separated by a narrow expanse of the St. Lawrence River on the northern New York–Canadian border. Besides being close geographical neighbors, the locales were both settled in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. In 1784 United Empire Loyalists......

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CHAPTER ONE The Early Settlement of Cornwall,Ontario and Massena, New York, 1784–1834

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pp. 7-30

The towns of Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, New York were established by pioneers on the U.S.–Canadian border at the end of the eighteenth century in a previously untamed wilderness. The northernmost part of New York State and the southern border of British North America were labeled...

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CHAPTER TWO The Canal Era and the First Manufacturing Boom in Cornwall and Massena, 1834–1900

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pp. 31-58

The completion of canal and hydropower projects on the St. Lawrence River in the nineteenth century triggered the industrialization of Cornwall and Massena. Both areas were located near fast-running water. However, during the early decades of settlement, the areas’ isolation, combined with...

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CHAPTER THREE The Era of Large Corporations in Cornwall and Massena,1900–1954

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pp. 59-90

In the first half of the twentieth century, Cornwall and Massena became regional manufacturing centers. From 1900 to 1954 the political leaders of both towns convinced the owners of several companies to locate plants in the area, and many farmers left their land to take better paying and more...

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CHAPTER FOUR The St. Lawrence Seaway Project and Its Short-Term Social Impact on Cornwall and Massena, 1954–1958

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pp. 91-110

The St. Lawrence Seaway Project is fittingly referred to as one of the “greatest construction shows on earth.1 Consisting of seven locks, the widening of various canals, and the taming of rapids between Alexandria Bay, New York and Montreal, Canada, the Seaway was the culmination of...

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CHAPTER FIVE The Long-Term Economic Impact of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project on Cornwall and Massena

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pp. 111-128

Despite hype and promise, the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway did not economically revitalize Cornwall and Massena. Prior to 1958 journalists confidently expected that new industry would spring up along the path of the Seaway, and that the area would attract tourists, vacationers, and...

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pp. 129-136

Cornwall and Massena settlers faced the same obstacles as other borderlanders in their quest for social and economic survival based on their isolated and peripheral locations. The towns’ distance from their nations’ heartland forced residents to work collectively to stave off starvation, foster a comparable frontier mentality, and encourage the establishment of a shared...


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pp. 137-158

Works Cited

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pp. 159-172


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pp. 173-181

E-ISBN-13: 9780791485675
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791459812
Print-ISBN-10: 0791459810

Page Count: 181
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 57566444
MUSE Marc Record: Download for From Great Wilderness to Seaway Towns

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Subject Headings

  • Northern boundary of the United States -- History, Local.
  • Massena (N.Y.) -- History.
  • Cornwall (Ont.) -- History.
  • Saint Lawrence Seaway -- History.
  • United States -- Relations -- Canada -- Case studies.
  • Canada -- Relations -- United States -- Case studies.
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