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Heritage Day

Appeared in the Seaway News on February 21st 2013.

Heritage Day - Discover Ours

The third Monday in February was deemed, Ontario’s Heritage Day by Heritage Canada in 1973. This holiday is important and significant, because it dedicates a day specifically towards appreciating our town’s people, older homes, buildings and landmarks. By paying attention for even one day, we can appreciate Cornwall’s rich history.

Even though Sydney and Pitt Streets showcase some of Cornwall’s more prominent examples of fine architecture, I want to focus on two of Cornwall’s historical attractions that do not get as much attention as they deserve. 

At Adolphus and First Streets, stands a proud brick structure built in 1875. This house demonstrates a very fine example of the Italian Villa style and was originally built for Cornwall’s mayor Mr. William Colquhoun who served from 1881-1883. Mr. Colquhoun had been elected Reeve of Osnabruck during the Municipal Election in 1855, and was appointed warden of the Three United Counties. He was also Ontario's Member of Legislative Assembly from 1867 to 1872. In 1895, three years before his death, Mr. Colquhoun sold the property to a very successful lawyer, Robert A. Pringle. Pringle was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for Cornwall and Stormont district.

On the morning of Tuesday, April 23rd 1929 Cornwall lost its Senior Judge who had proudly served 29 years on the bench. Judge James Redmond O’Reilly passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from an asthma attack that morning. He too, lived in this house. 

Cemeteries provide another example of Heritage sites worthy of importance, as they are the final resting place for thousands of people. One of Cornwall’s oldest cemeteries is Trinity Cemetery on Second Street West.

Trinity Cemetery contains the bones of several prominent Cornwall residents and founders. Including John Gerbrand Beek Lindsay (more commonly known as ‘Beek Lindsay’). Born on February 25th 1808, Reverend Lindsay not only rebuilt the old church in 1836, but he was the first to pontificate in this church as well as Williamsburg, Matilda and Edwardsburg exclusively in English. He moved to Cornwall in July of 1844 and while ministering to an emigrant family contracted Typhus and died on November 28th 1845 at the age of 37. Tragedy struck the Lindsay family again, when eight years after their father passed away, Salter (aged 15), George (aged 14) and Gerbrand (aged 11) broke through the ice while skating on the Cornwall canal. All three boys drowned on December 10th 1853. Reverend Beek Lindsay, his wife, and their children are interred at Trinity’s Cemetery.

Participating in Heritage Day is very important and simple to do. By reading this article, you celebrated and learned some of Cornwall’s rich history. On February 18th, I encourage you and your family to participate further. Take a short drive or walk around your town. Take the time to admire and appreciate older buildings that were built at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.