Cornwall Memories from the Seventies
Appeared in the Senior Citizen, August 2017.
one point or another, we have all sat around a table during a family gathering
and listened to our family reminisce about the “good old days.” My Grandmother
started “family Sunday lunches” when she was still living, and it is a
tradition my Uncle Jake proudly keeps alive since her death in 1994. During
these Sunday barbecues, I have lived vicariously through my Aunts, Uncles and
my Dad as they relay stories about growing up in Cornwall in the seventies, and
experiencing the “wonders” that were in town and around Stormont, Dundas and
At the corner of First and Alice Streets (900 First Street East) sits a large run down white apartment complex. Back in the seventies, this was “Fred’s Place”, a popular hangout for teens in the area. This store later became A&G Confectionary, owned and operated by my Grandmother, Rolande Séguin. If you grew up in the East end, I guarantee you remember her telling you to get off the pinball machines and get back to St. Lawrence High School!
Did you ever play pool at Snakes Pool Hall? This establishment was located on Pitt Street, close to the Palace Theatre. Many children flocked to the pool hall after their school day was done.
King George Park on Seventh Street is still around for the current generation to enjoy, but back in the seventies if you went to play hockey, you had to watch out! Hockey games at King George were some of the roughest games played in a Cornwall park. The children that played there didn’t enjoy “newcomers”, which often resulted in scraps. It wasn’t uncommon to see the Lapine kids fighting the Lalondes.
Something unknown to children today, is jumping off the Silver Bridge (at the foot of Augustus Street) into Cornwall’s canal. Another hot spot for swimmers was around Lock 17. Braver kids would swim at the “Boardy Bottom” of Cornwall’s Bywash.
Although it is located in Glen Walter, many children from Cornwall made their way to Precious Blood Church to swim and fish. It was a popular place for young high schoolers to hangout!
Children often wandered the yard of Chalet Artistic Glass (which opened in 1962 and claimed bankruptcy in June 1975) to find coloured pieces of glass that most children considered to be “treasures!” Around the same area, teenagers would often make their way to Lover’s Lane. It wasn’t uncommon to see a line up of cars during the evening hours!
Doyle’s Marina near East Front Public School was also a fun place for children to poke around. Although it was outside of Cornwall, the Bonville Quarry was another popular place for teenagers to spend their day.
A place I have heard about countless times, is “Jack’s Fries” at the corner of Pitt and Third Streets. Were you one of the children that raced there on your lunch break to grab a 25 cent bag of fries?
A&W used to have two restaurants in the seventies. There was one on Pitt Street (where Lolas Pub is currently located) and one located on Vincent Massey. In the seventies, girls on roller blades would skate over to the car window, take your order, and bring the meal to your car.
Although it burned down in 1972 along with Ford’s Jewelers, the New York Restaurant (later renamed the New York Cafe) was one of Cornwall’s biggest hot spots. It operated for 59 years, having been founded in July, 1913 by Peter Wong. People hitching rides to Massena assembled at the Cafe on Friday nights.
Another favourite was Shirley’s Restaurant (owned by the McDonald family), where Panda Restaurant is currently located on Second Street. It was a common sight to see students from CCVS and St. Lawrence munching away on fries and gravy after school was out for the day.
Other popular restaurants and food joints included: Dairy Queen (on Montreal Road, in the area where Taz gas station currently is), Hum’s Restaurant and Go-Go Pizza on Montreal Road, Jack Lee’s and Vera’s Lunch (both located on Pitt Street), Whimpey’s Diner, Mike’s Sub Shop and Herbie’s Sub Shop (both located on Pitt Street), and Séguin Chip Trucks and Ice Cream Trucks were both very popular.
Stores and Businesses
There were so many popular stores in Cornwall. A&P, People’s and Zellers, all located on Pitt Street, Vogue Shoppe a popular women’s wear store on Montreal Road (which opened in 1948 and ceased operation in 1995), Levesque Children’s Wear (do you remember the live monkey in the back of the store that lived in a cage?), Woolworth’s on Second Street (which had a fantastic lunch counter!), Snetsinger’s Hardware on Pitt Street, Beamish Clothing Store and St. Lawrence Meat Market both located on Montreal Road, Consumer’s Distributors, Clark’s Shoe Store (on Pitt Street), I R Bell Scrapyard (on Amelia Street), Texaco Gas Stations which had multiple locations around town, Dominion Tape (located near the Cotton Mills, children would often sneak toward their garbage bins to find tape to use for their hockey sticks. Security would end up chasing them away.)
“Nightlife” in Cornwall
My Dad has often told me, “Getting drunk in the seventies was an easy task, all you had to do was walk down Pitt Street, every second door was an entrance to a bar!” At the Wharf (located near Pitt and Water Streets) many Cornwallites purchased drafts for 10 cents a glass. Although it was originally constructed in 1888, the hotel became the “Lloyd George” in 1946 named after co-owners Lloyd Gallinger and George Bringloe. The building was demolished in 1978 to make way for the Cornwall Square.
Some of Cornwall’s popular bars included: The Old Fort in the basement of the King George Hotel, The Lafayette (which later became the Aardvark) on First Street, St. Lawrence House (which is now La Maison on Montreal Road), the Cornwallis Hotel (located on Second Street), the YMCA Dance Hall (the dance hall was located upstairs and hosted dances on Friday nights), and The Royal Hotel on Montreal Road.
Lalonde’s Bar in Riviere-Beaudette was a popular place for Cornwallites to visit in the seventies. Cornwall bands like Slopjaw and The Butlers often played at the Quebec establishment, and many Cornwall citizens followed to join the party!
The majority of seventies children were familiar with seeing wine-o’s down by Cornwall’s Harbour. That was “their spot” to drink. Many of these men were war veterans, and some of them were homeless.
Movie Theatres and Drive Ins
Cornwall children were blessed to have a variety of theatres and drive ins to choose from. They weren’t all located in Cornwall, but they were close enough to easily get to! Popular Drive Ins at the time included: Starlight Drive In which eventually became The Mustang (located on Purcell Road in Glen Walter), the Seaway Drive In (at Pitt and Tollgate, where the chip stand is currently located), and the Curry Hill Drive In.
Cornwall children also had three movie theatres to choose from: the Capitol Theatre on Second Street, which opened on January 23, 1928, and was demolished in 1991, the Palace Theatre on Pitt Street, which opened in 1921 and closed in the 1980s, and the Roxy/Port Theatre, which opened on December 26, 1941.
Random Memories from the Seventies
Bowling at Nativity Church and Olympia Bowl. It wasn’t uncommon to hear someone groaning during a game because the pins often hit the pin boys!
On Pitt Street where Lahaie and Sullivan’s Funeral Home is located, at the very back of the building used to house Kik-Cola. Children from the seventies will remember eagerly hoping to win something under their bottle cap!
Johnny Cash came to Cornwall on January 26, 1977. A Civic Complex employee wandered through the vents of the Complex, and snuck into Johnny’s room. When Mr. Cash came back, his wallet was missing. Outraged, he swore he would never return to Cornwall to play a show ever again, and he never did.
Everyone from the seventies remembers Joe Belisle from Apple Hill (he never worked, and he never will!)