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The Way Back, Playback

A Long Overdue Celebration of Life

(Published during the week of May 28, 2018.)


On May 22, a customer walked up to the bar at the Royal Canadian Legion (where I work), and complimented me on my previous article. After thanking him, we began discussing various subjects about Cornwall's history. Eventually, the topic of a particular tombstone was brought up, and to my surprise, this special memorial was not known to him. (This is the beauty of "finding" subjects to write about - They tend to find me!)


Between the years 1913 and 1952, what is now known as Heartwood Nursing home (at 201 Eleventh Street East), once operated as a local poor house.


In 1890, Canada created the "House of Refuge Act." This act stated that every county, or union of counties, was to provide a home accompanied by an industrial farm. This act aimed at removing severe cases of destitution from town streets, and organized it with administration.


During the facility's thirty-nine years of operation, 906 residents called Cornwall's House of Refuge home. These people were admitted to the local poor house for various reasons. Some of the reasons for admittance listed in Cornwall's House of Refuge register included: that residents were mentally ill, elderly, unable to work, "idiots", and women who were pregnant out of wedlock.


What surprises the majority of people I discuss this subject with, is that the entire grounds surrounding Heartwood Nursing Home is an unmarked cemetery. In April, May, and June of 1985, the area just West of the building was being transformed into Gretchen Court. During the excavation work on the property (as Benak Limited began digging the foundations for homes), the remains of twenty-nine bodies were discovered. (Residents of Cornwall's House of Refuge with no living relatives to claim the bodies were buried on the property in unmarked graves, some of which have been untouched since their original burials.) The bodies that were discovered in 1985 were moved to St. Lawrence Valley Cemetery, on the outskirts of Long Sault. For the second time, these House of Refuge residents were buried in unmarked graves.


On June 23, 2016, citizens from our community helped me write a new chapter in Cornwall's history: after eleven months of fundraising, a monument was unveiled, commemorating the lives of the twenty-nine former House of Refuge residents, and a small ceremony took place. Surrounded by dozens of people, their graves were blessed by Father Haley, and for the first time since their original burials, they received the celebration of life they had always deserved.

The Gray Family and their slave, John Baker

(Published during the week of May 14, 2018.)


James Gray was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the British Army. At the end of the American Revolution, British officers were given large land grants to settle into new colonies. Where Gray’s Creek is situated today, is the land that Colonel James Gray owned and lived on. (It has obviously been named after him.)


Colonel James Gray had four coloured slaves. Two were women, and two were men. The men were brothers: Simon and John Baker.


James Gray died in 1795, and left his land and property to his son, Robert Isaac Dey Gray. When Robert took control of his father’s property, he decided to travel to New York State, and purchased a coloured slave named Dorinda. Dorinda was Simon and John's mother.


Robert brought Dorinda back to his farm, and freed her. Dorinda ended up working for Captain Samuel Anderson, a local judge, as his house servant. (Captain Anderson’s land is down the road from Gray’s Creek, where the Glen-Stor-Dun-Lodge is today. There is a plaque detailing Captain Anderson's history, just West of the property, close to the sidewalk for the public to view.)


Robert Gray eventually became the Attorney-General of Upper Canada. He tried to create new laws which aimed at giving slaves a better quality of life.


Robert died in November 1804, along with his slave Simon. They were on a ship in Lake Ontario when a storm hit. The ship sank, taking both men down with it. In his will, Robert freed his remaining three slaves, and left them money and land to support themselves. In a Toronto newspaper from December 1869, John Baker is quoted as saying, "I and mother were

freed by Gray's will. We got a little of the money he left for us, but not much."


The Gray family has a very interesting history, but what captivated my interest the most while I began researching about James Gray and his son, was the history of their slaves. The slave that caught my attention, was John Baker.


John Baker was unlike most coloured slaves in the area. He was well-educated, and he could read and write. In his memoirs, he states that he worked for a judge who lived in York (Toronto) after Robert Gray died and freed him. In 1812, John volunteered for the Upper Canada militia to repel the American invasion. He already had military experience, because he had also fought in the American Revoultion. John fought in several major battles: Fort Erie, Sackett’s Harbour, and Lundy’s Lane. At the end of the war John was given a pension for his efforts. He was granted one shilling a day for the rest of his life. In 1815, John enlisted in the British army to fight in the Napolenoic Wars in Europe. He fought in two battles, and claimed in his memoirs that he saw Napolean riding his horse.


John eventually returned to Upper Canada, and lived in Cornwall for the rest of his life. For the last few years of his life, he was seen daily, limping down Pitt Street to visit P. E. Adams' store. He completed odd jobs for Mr. Adams, and always sat in one particular seat in the store. It is said that the floor was worn away in the place where his feet always rested.


John died on January 17, 1871, and the local newspaper at that time claimed that he was 105 years old at the time of his death. The Canadian Encyclopedia states, "In some ways, Baker's life was unique. He may have been the last surviving Upper Canadian slave. He had seen his adopted homeland become Upper Canada, Canada West, and then, the Dominion of Canada."

Nazareth Orphanage: Another loss to fire 
(Published during the week of April 30, 2018.)

Standing at the corners of Sydney and Second Street, it is hard for me to stare at the Cornwall Public Library and imagine a grand Victorian building in its place, but sixty-seven years ago, that’s exactly what stood proudly at the North-West corner. 

In 1897, Cornwall’s Children’s Aid Society was formed. Their mandate was “to house destitute children until they could be placed in permanent homes.” In 1909, the Children’s Aid Society became overpopulated with homeless children. The Society looked towards the Religious Hospitallers of Saint Joseph Sisters to help care for the large number of destitute children. 

The Sisters purchased two small framed homes on Mulberry Lane. These two homes became Nazareth Orphanage, which opened on January 16, 1909. Eight months after the orphanage opened, twenty-six children would call the two wooden buildings “home”. Although the homes were not of the greatest quality, they succeeded in providing food and shelter for the children. 

In October 1909, the orphans would be relocated to a new home. “The Greenwood House,” located on York Street became the “new” orphanage. It operated as Nazareth Orphanage until November 28, 1919. On that same date, the orphans were moved to “Highland Manor”, located at the North-West corner of Sydney and Second Streets. This residence belonged to Mrs. Mary McMartin, and was donated to the orphans in memory of her late husband, John. Mrs. McMartin also provided the funds to heat the building. 

Five Sisters were assigned as staff, and lived at the new orphanage with the children. The Sisters found it difficult to meet the expenses required to care for dozens of children. The government assistance at the time was not much: two cents per day for each child. Woman from the community formed the Nazareth Orphanage Society, and devoted much time, effort, and care to help with the orphans’ upbringing.

On Friday, May 4, 1950, tragedy would strike at Nazareth Orphanage. As soon as Sisters Cameron, St. Emily, St. Monica and Mary Theresa sat down to have lunch, the fire alarm began to ring. By the time the Fire Department arrived, all the staff and children were safely outside. Representatives of the Children’s Aid Society picked up children who were in school, and took them to the Salvation Army Citadel until relatives could come for them. Although the cause of the fire was never determined, it is believed that it was caused by faulty electrical wiring. It is rumored that even if there hadn’t been a fire, the home would have been demolished to make room for Cornwall’s new Post Office.
Remembering The Forgotten Poor
(Published during the week of April 16, 2018.)

Every single day without fail, a historic photo of Cornwall or a surrounding county is posted on my public Facebook page. However, on Saturday, April 14, no pictures were posted, only words. 

On June 1, 2017, I submitted a petition to the Canadian government asking them to recognize April 14 of every year as Poor House Commemoration Day in Canada. I had 120 days to gather, at minimum, 500 signatures of support. In total, 648 signatures were received. On November 8, 2017, the petition was presented and tabled in the House of Commons by local MP Guy Lauzon. On January 29, 2018, I was informed of the governments response: "The Government of Canada does not have any current plans to officially designate the aforementioned date [as Poor House Commemoration Day in Canada.]" 

 On April 14, I wanted to remember and celebrate each and every Canadian Citizen and Immigrant that lived or died in an Asylum, a House of Refuge facility, or a Poor House on Canadian soil. Many of these people were buried in unmarked graves, with no family living to surround them and celebrate their lives. Some of the female inmates were shunned by their families for being pregnant and unmarried. Many of these people were just too poor, and could not afford any means to get by. Many inmates were crippled, unable to work or fend for themselves, and some of them suffered from mental illnesses. 

By April 14, 1937, Canadians and Immigrants who suffered from mental illnesses were entirely stripped of their property, managing their economic affairs, and their ability to reproduce. Not only had they lost their belongings, the right to own properties, but they were stripped of their right to have children. By April 14, they lost control of everything, including control over their own body. 

On April 14, 1937, the “Act respecting the Mentally Incompetent Persons and their Estates” was passed in Alberta. This Act marked a growing intrusion of the state into the lives of those they deemed “mentally incompetent or unfit.” Canadian citizens in an asylum were no longer capable of managing their economic affairs. The government stripped these people of their own property. Nine years prior to this act, the government of Alberta stripped their citizens of the ability to reproduce. On March 21, 1928, the Legislative Assembly of Alberta passed the “Sexual Sterilization Act.” This legislation authorized sexual sterilization to individuals living in designated state institutions (Asylums) deemed to have “undesirable traits.” The impact of the Sexual Sterilization Act was substantial. Under this Act, over 4,800 people were sterilized. More than 2,800 persons were sterilized under its two amendments in 1937 and 1942. 

Although you are reading this a few days after the fact, I hope you will take time to remember Canadian citizens that lived in Asylums, a Houses of Refuge, and Poor Houses. I remembered them, I know you will remember them, and one day, Canada will remember them too. Poor House Commemoration Day is not an official day in Canada... yet.
Cornwall's Historic "Four Corners"
(Published during the week of April 2, 2018.)

It goes without saying that one of Cornwall's most popular "hubs" is Pitt and Second. Being within the original square mile of our city, this section of Cornwall has gone through many changes.

One of the most memorable landmarks from this area of town, was the Post Office on the North West corner. During the 1800s and early 1900s, this was easily the most photographed building in Cornwall, and was featured on many postcards during that time. Built between 1882 and 1885 by local contractors Gordon & L.A. Ross, the construction cost a little more than $47,900. The city was convinced that the Post Office building would fall over. Unfortunately, in 1954, the building met the wrecking ball. Despite the city’s concerns, it took over 120 blows from the wrecking ball to make the building budge even the slightest. On September 11, 1956, Lionel Chevrier laid the corner stone for the Seaway Building, which still graces the same location.

Across the road, on the North East corner, was the King George Hotel. Although this building remained on the property for years, it was renovated and expanded several times. Originally constructed as a private residence for Noah Dickinson in 1825, this building was never used for its original purpose. Instead of being used as a home, this building operated as a barracks, a ballroom and concert hall, a courthouse, a hotel and bar. (If you ever wondered where the bar, "The Old Fort", in the basement got its name, it was because of its former military connection!) In March 1947, the building underwent renovations and included Liggetts Drug Store and Millar’s Men’s Wear. Eventually, Tamblyn's would replace Liggetts. Historically, this building was known as The Dominion House, The American House (around 1873), The Balmoral and more familiar to many of you, The King George Hotel (which it was named in 1910.) Unfortunately, the King George Hotel was destroyed by fire on February 14, 1997.

In 1919, Archie Dover opened a wool shop in Cornwall, which eventually expanded into what became a well-respected menswear store. Dover's Menswear replaced the Stirling Bank on the South East corner of Pitt and Second Streets. Archie Dover eventually expanded, opening clothing stores all across Ontario. This area of downtown became home to several restaurants. The most popular restaurant at this location was the Colossus, which operated from 1970 to 1992. The restaurant was owned by John Alachouzos, Minas Diakonis, Mike Gerogiania, and Mike Mastrominas. The last business to operate at this location was Truffles Burger Bar. The building caught fire at 4am on December 5, 2010, and was completely destroyed. Today, this corner has been transformed into a parking lot for Pommier Jewellers.

On the South West corner of Pitt and Second Streets was the Bank of Commerce. Eventually the bank was replaced by Fullerton’s Drug Store, which still operates at the same location today.
What Came Tumbling Down, So Sears Could Remain Standing
(Published during the week of March 19, 2018.)

Earlier this month, Cornwall citizens were informed that the owner of the Cornwall Square has decided to demolish the section of the building that Sears once occupied. Replacing Sears will be a six to eight story building that will contain retail spaces, as well as multiple floors of residential units. When the Cornwall Square was being constructed in 1978, a lot of buildings and homes had to be demolished to make room for the mall. It is as if this new face-lift will allow this section of Cornwall's main drag to revert to it's former state. 

 At the corner of Pitt and Water Streets (on the East side) used to be the Fiesta Room. In the 40s, a Barber Shop operated in this building by a gentleman named Emile Vachon. Attached to The Fiesta Room was the Lloyd George Hotel, owned by both Lloyd Gallinger and George Bringloe. Many people enjoyed a ten cent draft in the Wharf Lounge, and would bar hop between this location and the bar two doors down. Directly beside the hotel was another building owned by George: Bringloe's Furniture.

Although many buildings were demolished at the foot of Pitt Street, a large portion of Sydney Street also met the wrecking ball in preparation for the construction of the Cornwall Square. Among several apartment buildings, side by sides and homes, St. Paul's United Church was also lost. Although the Mall parking garage is in the Church's former site, the steeple from St. Paul's United Church was salvaged and moved to its current location in front of the Best Western and Parkway Inn.

Down the road from St. Paul's Church was Pearson's Furniture Store. Many people enjoyed attending dances that used to be held there! The furniture store was located beside the Cornwall Street Railway Light and Power Company building. Across the road (at the foot of Sydney and Water Streets) was Halliwell's Garage. Another section of Cornwall that was lost in the construction of the Square was a portion of Central/Horovitz Park, and Central Park Avenue. A few apartments and homes lined this little avenue.

Cornwall has unfortunately lost much of it's history in the name of progress. Many homes, hot spots, and businesses were lost in order to build the Cornwall Square. Although these areas of Cornwall no longer exist, they are definitely not forgotten.
"What is a.. Beek?"
(Published during the week of March 5, 2018.)

Earlier this week, a friend of mine asked me a question out of no where: "Sara, what is a.. Beek?" Puzzled, I replied, "my cat?" For several moments there was silence. Again, I replied, "Beek is my cats name." The next question to follow suit was, "Like a bird beak? How in the world did you come up with that?!"

During the summer months of 2010, I found myself wandering through a familiar place. Wandering through the cemetery beside Trinity Anglican Church, I glanced at the familiar names on every tombstone. Eventually, I stopped dead in my tracks in front of a long white stone, and whispered the name out loud, "Beek Lindsay." How had I missed this before?! Both humoured and amazed, all I could think was, "Someone named their child BEEK?" 

John Gerbrand Beek Lindsay (more commonly known as "Beek Lindsay") was born on February 25, 1808. Reverend Lindsay not only rebuilt the old Trinity Anglican Church in 1836, but he was the first to pontificate in this church as well as in Williamsburg, Matilda, and Edwardsburg. It is said that Reverend Lindsay dismantled the first dilapidated church building, and rebuilt a new one in a different style. Nearly all of the white oak timber from the first church was used to construct the second. The arched window frames from the former church were incorporated into the new one. This second church was named "Trinity Anglican Church." In the winter months of 1845, Reverend Lindsay contracted Thyphus shortly after ministering to a recently immigrated family who were suffering from the fever. On November 28, 1845, Beek Lindsay would die from Thyphus fever at the age of 37.

Eight years after his death, tragedy would strike the Lindsay family again. On December 10th, 1853, three of Reverend Lindsay's children, Salter (aged 15), George (aged 14), and Gerbrand (aged 11) fell through the ice while skating on the Cornwall canal. Unable to free themselves of the waters icy grip, all three boys drowned to their death. Reverend Beek Lindsay, his wife, and their children are interred at Trinity Church Cemetery. On the opposite side of Trinity Church, there is a tall Seniors residence at 210 Augustus Street. This building was named after the Reverend, and is known as the Beek Lindsay Seniors Residence.

After the death of our family cat Sparkles, and losing her best friend Lucky (who escaped our home and never returned) in 2012, fate stepped in. After seeing dozens of articles online, and a news report on TV about Valleyfield's OSPCA being overpopulated with cats who faced the threat of being euthanized, my family and I travelled to their animal shelter. On the drive home looking up from my lap, was a coal coloured cat with big green eyes. Her name was decided during that car ride home. To my surprise and amusement, my Mother let me name our new furry friend Beek.
Locomotive #17: Where should it be moved to?
(Published during the week of February 19, 2018.)

Since November 2016, Locomotive #17 (which is currently located on the South East corner of Brookdale and Ninth Streets) has become a heated topic. The biggest issue in debate was whether City Council should or should not put money aside to refurbish the Locomotive that evidently needed to be repaired. Doug McOuat from the Ontario Electric Railway Historical Association stated that “two of Canada’s top Railway Museums consider Locomotive #17 to be in good condition. Both of these museums have over 60 years of experience, and they both have a Cornwall locomotive in their collection.”

When the Locomotive was designated as historically significant in 2006 under a heritage designation (designation in the province of Ontario “allows municipalities and the provincial government to designate individual properties and districts in the Province of Ontario, as being of cultural heritage value or interest.” When a property is designated, it means that “the municipal council has the responsibility to protect buildings and properties that are of cultural significance”) City Council at that time promised to put $10,000 into the Locomotive to secure its upkeep. They did not keep that promise. However, in June, our current City Council decided to put money aside to refurbish the Locomotive which is estimated to cost approximately $85,000.

The next issue to arise, is that the city believes the Locomotive needs to be moved to another location in Cornwall. The biggest question to follow suit was, “where could it be moved to?” On February 7, 2018, a survey was released asking the public for their input on where the locomotive should be moved to. Three months prior to, Cornwall's Waterfront Committee began discussing the option of having the Locomotive grace Lamoureux Park. This idea was quickly shot down, and I do not agree or disagree with their decision. Lamoureux Park is a beautiful green area for the public to enjoy, however, most of the land that makes up Lamoureux Park is landfill. This means that the land in Lamoureux Park may not be solid enough to hold the 70-ton Locomotive. If the engine were to be moved to our waterfront area, and it did eventually sink into the ground, lifting it would bring more expenses to the city. The other side to this suggestion, is that the RCAFA building, the Cornwall Community Museum, and the Civic Complex are all heavy buildings that are situated in the park, albeit on grounds that are “original” — not landfill. Could areas near these places hold the Locomotive’s weight?

An ideal and historically appropriate location for the Locomotive, would be the Cotton Mill area. In the early 1900s train tracks went directly to this area, and they were used daily. Cornwall grew and thrived on the success of its mills, and a lot of that success can be attributed to the shipping that was done via rail. Restored, the Locomotive would be an important historical addition to this area. The Waterfront committee was concerned that the engine would become “a target for graffiti.” I believe having the Locomotive in the Cotton Mill area will deter vandals from damaging this piece of history, because it would be under the eyes of the condo dwellers and citizens visiting local businesses in that area.

Cornwall has lost countless of historically significant properties to fires and unpredictable tragedies, but it has unfortunately lost much of its history to neglect. We should be proud of the history that remains in our city, and I believe it would be ideal to do all that we can to protect the history we still have left.
Building a Bridge
(Published during the week of February 5, 2018.)

During the late 50s, a tall man over six feet in height moved from his hometown, Mattawa, Ontario, to Cornwall. He came to our city looking for work, and would assist in constructing Cornwall's Seaway International Bridge.

The construction of Cornwall's first bridge ended up in tragedy. On September 6, 1898, pier #2 plunged into the St. Lawrence River, taking two spans of a nearly completed bridge with it. Fifteen workers lost their lives in this catastrophe, six of whom are buried in St. Columban's and Woodlawn Cemetery. What I found most touching, was the fellowship shown among the surviving workers. These men, living in a time when money was scarce, pitched in for the burial of their co-workers. Many of the deceased hailed from far away and would not have had families with funds to pay for their funerals or a tombstone. This was truly an act of great comradery.

Ten years later, a similar catastrophe would strike the banks of the St. Lawrence River. On June 23, 1908, the South bank of the canal gave out about 500 feet west of Lock 18. The bridges "swing span pier" tipped over, bringing yet another Cornwall bridge down to the ground. There were no deaths, but two were injured in the destruction.

One of Cornwall's most memorable bridges, The Roosevelt Swing Bridge, officially opened on June 30, 1934. The opening ceremony took place on the south side of Cornwall Island, south of the Canadian Customs House. The opening of this bridge was a major event, with many prominent figures invited to attend the ceremony. In early June 1934, Sir Robert Borden, a Canadian lawyer, politician, and the eighth Prime Minister of Canada, sent a formal reply to an invitation he received from Mayor Aaron Horovitz. He was forced to decline due to prior arrangements. The Roosevelt Swing Bridge is one of the bridges most spoken about, because the center of the bridge would pivot to allow ships to pass through the Cornwall Canal. Not long after the bridge officially opened, it was planked over and opened to automobile traffic.


In 1962, Cornwall would see a new bridge  lining the sky for the next fifty-two years. Although some considered it to be an eyesore, I believe it was a Cornwall icon. The North Channel Bridge that linked together Cornwall and Cornwall Island, opened to traffic on July 3, 1962. This bridge, a high level structure, measured 1625 meters long, 8.2 meters wide, and was 36.6 metres above the canal below it. 


Leaving Mattawa behind, Archie Latour needed a place to stay while he worked on Cornwall's new bridge. He rented a room from Rolande Séguin at 219 Sydney Street, which, at that time, operated as a boarding house. Travelling away from home to look for work resulted in a construction worker finding the love of his life. The couple would later have five children, and as the years passed by, they would be blessed with seven grandchildren... One of whom, was me.

Out and About in Cornwall in 1958
(Published during the week of January 22, 2018.)


I have often been asked how I choose column ideas or projects to research. The truth is, these projects and subjects always seem to find me. Earlier this week I was gifted a Cook Book from 1958. This faded blue soft covered book holds dozens upon dozens of recipes, with each submitter listed underneath their prized dish. What I found most exciting (aside from a sugar cookie recipe from the 1800s!), was the advertisements. Unexpectedly, this Cook Book painted a picture of the different businesses that were around Cornwall in 1958.


On the first page of advertisements, Bingloe’s Furniture is listed. Bringloe’s was located at 21 Pitt Street, beside the Lloyd George Hotel. This section of buildings on Pitt Street was owned by partners Lloyd Gallinger and George Bringloe. Today, the Cornwall Square stands in its place. Other furniture stores listed were: Julius Miller Furniture Company, located at 136 Fourth Street East, and Pearson Furniture, located at 130 Sydney Street.


Some popular restaurants from the 50s included: Shirley’s Restaurant (near the bus terminal), the Cornwallis Hotel which was demolished in 1982, and the Jade Garden Restaurant at 25 Second Street East. I know many of you will remember #17 from the menu at the Jade Garden!


I am amazed at how many shoe and clothing stores Cornwall had in the 50s. I think it comes as no surprise that the majority of these stores were located on Pitt Street: Well’s Shoe Shoppe Limited, The Marilyn Shoppe (ladies wear), Nyman’s Shoe Store, Clark’s Shoe Store (which served Cornwall for 116 years and closed in 2012), Herman’s “Smart Women’s Sportwear and Dresses”, and Martin’s Ladies Wear. Clothing stores in other areas of Cornwall included: Canadian Men’s Wear (on Montreal Road), Schulman’s and Goldhamer’s Limited who both sold “Fine Clothes for Men and Boys”, Dover’s Men’s Wear at the corner of Pitt and Second, Levesque’s Children’s Wear at 29 Second Street East, and Cornwall Pants and Prince Clothing Company. 


Other stores that were included throughout the advertisements were: The City Smoke Shop and The Terminal Smoke Shop both located at Second Street East, and both of Fullerton Drug Stores locations (Corner of Pitt and Second and 354 Montreal Road.) Both Cornwall East Side Dairy Company (on Race Street) and Rivermead Dairy (at 37 Cumberland Street) were listed as well.


History is all around us. History is the buildings that align Pitt Street, the stores that have come and gone, and can be found through the various writings that have been left behind... like in a Cook Book from 1958.

Memories of Downtown Cornwall
(Published during the week of January 8th, 2018.)


Pitt Street has remained one of Cornwall’s main arteries since our city was founded in 1784. Old postcards of Pitt Street depict dozens of buildings and establishments along the city streets, and although these businesses continuously changed as the years have passed, many of these “Cornwall landmarks” have held a lasting impression on city residents today.


Pitt Street once mirrored Sydney Street, and had buildings aligning the road right up until Water Street. In 1979, many buildings and a sizable portion of Horovitz Park were removed to create room for Cornwall Square. One “hot spot” that was lost, was the Lloyd George Hotel. Many people enjoyed a 10-cent draft at the Wharf in the basement of the building.


On Monday, August 7, 1933 a group of about three young boys were seen playing behind Fursey’s Garage and the Victoria Arena. (Today, this area is behind Riley’s Bakery where the new Courthouse presently is.) In the midst of their amusement, it is claimed by news reports that the boys decided to make a small fire that they never bothered to put out. Cornwall would witness its biggest disaster, causing businesses between Second and Third Streets (on the West side of Pitt Street) to be completely gutted and destroyed by flames. The estimated cause of damage was $1,000,000.


In the 1950s, the streets were often flooded with people, so much so, that city residents were assisted across the streets on busier days by a police officer at the corner of Pitt and Second Streets. A staple fixture at the North-West corner of that busy location, was the Post Office building. Unfortunately, the city believed the building would “topple over”, so it’s fate became the wrecking ball in 1954. Despite the city’s fears of it falling over, it took over 120 blows from the wrecking ball to make the building budge even the slightest.


In 1970s, Pitt Street was a two-way street. Many familiar stores aligned the streets with neon signs to greet their clientele. Many people will remember: Jack Lee's, Peoples, the Metropolitan, the Palace Theatre, Millers Men’s Wear, and Fords Jewelers and the New York Café which burned down in August 1972.


In the 1980s, the Colossus Restaurant was located at the South-East corner of Pitt and Second. During this time, Pitt Street (between First and Second, and Second and Third) was a Promenade.


Pitt Street has had dozens of makeovers, been faced with countless fires, and has changed from a Promenade, a one-way, and a two-way street. It comes with no surprise that one of Cornwall’s most historic locations, is Pitt Street.