Only one Cornwall Watchtower convention this year; English meetings move to Ottawa

In this 2016, file photo, members of the Johovah's Witnesses gather at the Cornwall Civic Complex for their annual convention. The city will only have one convention meeting this year. (Cornwall Tourism via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – A religious convention which has brought millions of dollars to the local economy and thousands of people has scaled back its Cornwall gathering this year.

The only Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower convention will be a gathering for Francophones this weekend (June 7-9) at the Cornwall Civic Complex.

The English regional convention has moved to Ottawa this year – July 12-14.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, local convention spokesman Christian Rousseau says the decision to go to Ottawa is no reflection on the city.

“We’re very satisfied with the relationship and services we get with Cornwall Civic Complex and Convention Center, the city. Very much appreciative of how hospitable the city is to us. Absolutely no complaints. If anyone was to wonder our decision to go to Kanata this year had to do with a problem or anything of that sort, absolutely not,” Rousseau said.

He said the Ottawa location is an opportunity to combine several convention groups and have a larger convention, much like what was done last year in Quebec City. Last year, Cornwall didn’t have a French convention but two English meetups.

He added that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have not made any decision on venues for 2020. Rousseau believed that his organization and the City of Cornwall had a long term contract up until this year but no new contract had been negotiated. “We haven’t put a contract together either with Cornwall or any other facility at this time for the region.”

One less convention will mean a hit to the local economy, as Cornwall Tourism estimated the two weekend conventions last year brought in over $4.5 million.

Last year, the 21st year for the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Cornwall, there were two English conventions while the French gathering moved to Quebec City to take in a new venue. There were many as 18,000 people in attendance locally, the city estimated. In 2017, there were two conventions – one English and one French.

Local coordinator Lynn Hess says they have had 62 weekend gatherings in Cornwall since coming to the city.

The theme of this year’s convention is “Love Never Fails!”

Around 2,800 visitors from Ontario and Quebec are expected at the Cornwall Civic Complex this weekend.