Each ethnic group that has lived on the Island has given a name to describe certain places or geographical areas. As waterways proved to be the main mode of transportation for centuries, it is mostly rivers, bays, harbours, streams and creeks that have multiple names, rather than specific land areas.
Some names given by the Mi’maq people to areas around Cornwall include;
Minegoo - Prince Edward Island (The Island)
Okoonaleet - North Point extends into Charlottetown Harbour on the north side of the West River
Oolugome - Mill Creek flowing south-east into the West River (good spearing)
Tjigaoegatig - West River (bass place)
Nemtagag - North River84
The Acadian people had given names to the following places;
Port ou Riviere de la Joie - North River
Riviere-du-Nord - North River
Riviere-de l'Ouest - West River85
Samuel Holland is credited for assigning place names when he conducted his Island-wide survey in 1764-65. Most of the names Holland assigned to Islands, communities, rivers, bays, harbours etc. are the same ones we know of today. Holland, for example assigned the name York River for what we now call the North River, he also assigned the name Eliot River to what we now call the West River. Please refer to the map below for place names in the Cornwall area and how the names have changed over the years.
The roads in Cornwall had changed and developed as the community has over the years. The map also attempts to clarify what roads existed, where they were and during what time.
1. York River
2. Eliot River
3. Hyde's Point
4. Mill Creek
5. Simpson's Point
6. Bass Cove
7. Caithness Cove
8. North Point
9. Franklin Point
10. McKenzie Creek
11. Howard Creek
12. Ingenuity Creek
13. Poplar Island
14. Kehough Creek
15. Kellows Brook
A. TransCanada Hwy
B. Cornwall Road
C. Mill Road
D. North River Road
E. Douse's Road
*The dotted line north of the Cornwall road indicates a road that was once there but is no longer.
**The light blue line connecting Poplar Island to the Kingston Road was the location of the former bridge and road leading off the bridge.
The funny thing about Islanders is they don’t like change. If a place name changes over the years, it will always be referred to as what it was called originally. For example even though North River and York Point are now actually part of Cornwall, residents still refer to them by their original place names. This concept will be a good one to keep in mind when looking back at place and road names.
The original village of Cornwall was not always called Cornwall. The area that encompassed the former village of Cornwall as well as the area extending towards Meadow Bank, Hyde Point and Clyde River was referred to as the West River Settlement. The Hutchinson’s Prince Edward Island Directory, 1864, provides a list of some residents of Cornwall, Lot 32, with an address as “West River.”86 At one point, assumingly in the early part of the 1800’s, the village became known as Pye’s Corner. Although no-one really knows for sure how the village became known by that name, it is a common belief that it was named after the Pye family that lived in the centre of the village. John Pye the original settler owned a tavern, and some have speculated that the name of the village may have been derived from the name of the tavern. Unfortunately it is not known when exactly the name “Pye’s Corner” was adopted, nor when the name Cornwall was adopted. The only reference to how the name Cornwall came about comes from a history paper written by Marjorie Howard. Her paper was written in 1967, and much of her information was collected from elder members of the village. Therefore where written record is missing, memories and oral tradition of the founding families come into play. Marjorie claims that “When choosing a name, the Irish settlers suggested ‘Glenbrow’ and the English named it Cornwall which it is to the present day. Rev. Mr. Pope and James Kellow chose the name.”87 If we consider this story to be true, we must look at the dates in which these two men resided in Cornwall. It is believed that James Kellow arrived in “Cornwall” before 1821. He died in 1843.88 Reverend Henry Pope Sr. was the minister of the Charlottetown circuit (to which the Cornwall Methodist Church belonged to at the time) during the years of 1826-28.89 If we assume that the men decided on the name during Mr. Pope’s time as acting minister, then the name was chosen between the years of 1826 and 1828. Whether this story is true or not, provincial records do confirm the name of the school in the village as Cornwall School: those provincial records begin in 1848. Despite the fact that the village was officially named in the early half of the 1800’s, members of the village continued to call the area “Pye’s Corner” for many generations afterward.