James Kennedy Cornwall

Jim Cornwall became a staunch advocate of the settlement of the Peace River Country, and served as the Liberal member of provincial parliament (now MLA) for the Peace River riding from 1909 to 1913.


Cornwall, James Kennedy

 James Kennedy Cornwall, known as "Peace River Jim" and "Apostle of the North," adventurer, businessman, politician, soldier (b at Brantford, Ont 29 Oct 1869; d at Calgary 20 Nov 1955). During the early 20th century, James Cornwall was the most effective ambassador of the Canadian Northwest. By the time he arrived in the region in 1896, he had crisscrossed the Atlantic and travelled throughout Europe, Russia and Asia. An active businessman and promoter, he lived at various locations before moving to Edmonton in 1908. By then Cornwall had become involved in several major companies, including Bredin and Cornwall, which he formed with Fletcher Bredin in 1899. When they sold out to the Revillon Frères in 1906, their posts were challenging the HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY for commercial domination in northwestern Alberta and beyond. In 1904 Cornwall and James Woods formed the Northern Transportation Company with steamboats from ATHABASCA LANDING to Lesser Slave Lake.

Jim Cornwall became a staunch advocate of the settlement of the Peace River Country, and served as the Liberal member of provincial parliament (now MLA) for the Peace River riding from 1909 to 1913. He was central to the extension of railways to his riding and to Athabasca Landing and Waterways (now FORT MCMURRAY). During World War I he served overseas as lieutenant-colonel of the 218th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, a railway unit he founded and financed. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French and the Distinguished Service Order by King George V. Following the war, he continued to champion his beloved Northwest, advocating development of the Athabasca oil sands and the Northwest Territories.


Further Reading

  • David W. Leonard, The Last Great West: The Agricultural Settlement of the Peace River Country (2006).