Tri-County Literacy Council was established in 1986. A small group of persons representing T.R. Leger Alternative School, St. Lawrence College and the Cornwall Public Library identified a training gap in the community. Mary Mayer, Bill Murphy and Nancy Harsanyi saw a need to establish a community-based organization that would serve the needs of rural learners and others with barriers to attending existing programs. This need would be filled with volunteer tutors trained using the Laubach Way to Reading. That same year Dina McGowan arrived in Cornwall and volunteered to write the first grant to access funding to assist the group in becoming a non-profit and incorporated agency. The first cheque, $5600.00 arrived from the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture and Dina McGowan was hired as the Executive Director of the agency.
The group originally met in the basement of Dina’s home. Soon, it outgrew this space. A learner with literacy issues who owned much local real estate provided the agency with free space on Second Street in return for the opportunity to learn. Additional funding allowed the growing group to move to larger quarters at 8 Second Street West at the corner of Pitt and Second Street in April of 1988. Here, the group blossomed and an array of programs was offered. Free and confidential tutoring was complemented with small group delivery and English Second Language training. The Catholic School Board under the supervision of Mr. Gilles Metivier became the first paying member. Mr. Bruce Henbest created the first promotion/newsletter group and Mrs. Jean Metivier co-wrote the first volunteer training manual with Dina McGowan called, “Creative Tutoring.” Anne Arseneau was the first Fundraiser.
The agency proceeded to deliver Labour Adjustment training and offered assessment on behalf of the Literacy Basic Skills programs at St. Lawrence College and T.R. Leger Alternative Schools. The agency grew from 10 learners in its first year to surpassing 100. In 1998, the agency relocated to Second Street in order to accommodate continued growth. Here the agency celebrated the Millennium by hosting a conference at Nav Canada. Participants registered from all parts of the province and the agency unveiled its new resources aimed at bringing literacy into the new millennium.
The agency identified the importance of high visibility and recognized the value of locating on Cornwall’s main street. The manse belonging to Trinity Anglican Church, a famous local landmark was for lease. The agency took up residence in the manse in 2001, where we are presently located at 101 Second Street West. Additional rooms allowed for increased programming and 12 years later the agency now offers a full array of training related to assisting persons to reach success on their chosen goal paths. Paths include:
- secondary school credit
- post-secondary education
The agency expanded its services to include children and with funding from the Royal Bank of Canada it offers a Community Homework and After-School Program called, “C.H.A.P.” for children in kindergarten to grade 8.
Today the agency is part of a larger network called Literacy Link Eastern Ontario. It continues its partnership with T.R. Leger Alternative School and St. Lawrence College through the Literacy Services Planning Committee. It has offices at Job Zone d’emploi and in the hall at Trinity Anglican Church. Hundreds of learners pass through its doors each year.