Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | May 15, 2020

Historic Pioneer Corner

Pioneer Corner began in Centennial year 1967, when Stanley McNairn moved two log cabins to 3201 Vincent Massey Drive. The red cedar log house was built at St. Elmo’s Corner, North Glengarry, ca. 1830. During the fourteen years that ensued, Pioneer Corner sold a variety of crafts and local food products. When this delightful group of century old buildings became available in 1981, twenty local craftspeople formed a cooperative to sell their handicrafts, collectables and consignment items from local people.

Standard-Freeholder, October 22, 1991 – Zoning Exemption paves way to changes at Pioneer Corner
One of the most familiar landmarks along Vincent Massey Drive will be updated to include new services for the area. The Planning Advisory Committee approved an exception to the Special Uses 99 zoning of property at the corner of Vincent Massey Drive and Link Road, the site of Pioneer Corner. The new exception will allow owner Stanley McNairn to add a tea room, garden centre, animal veterinary hospital and accessory uses. McNairn said the existing two gift and souvenir shops, popular with both tourists and local residents, have been a successful venture over the years. “But things have changed considerably,” McNairn added. “The tourist industry has slumped badly and expenses have gone up and up and up some more. The time is also fast approaching when the property must be passed on to others. McNairn said the new proposed use will “fit in well in this area.” Ald. Francis Guindon was concerned about traffic entering and exiting off Vincent Massey Drive. McNairn assured the PAC the only access to the new development will be on Link Road. Planner Mark Boileau, in a report to PAC, supported McNairn’s request. He said no change to the Official Plan status will be required. The tea room would be more or less accessory to the current gift shop operation. “The garden centre is an agricultural type of use with precedence in allowing MacDonell’s Garden Centre on the east side of McConnell Avenue north,” Boileau said. “The veterinarian clinic has somewhat of an agricultural nature. The planning department is of the opinion that the application does not represent a significant departure from the Rural Area Official Plan policies,” Boileau added. … McNairn did not say when he plans to begin construction of the new facilities.

3205 & 3201:  Courtesy of Google Streetview, this was the property in 2016.

3205 & 3201:  In this 2019 Streetview image, it is clear that the easterly cabin is no longer there. The easterly building was offered to Upper Canada Village then to the Lost Villages Historical Society, but not needed at either location. Another party purchased it and moved it out of the area in 2019.

May 2020 – The remaining westerly buildings – electrical service disconnected


Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | May 9, 2020

Historic Fournier Furniture






Al Fournier, 1960, owner of Fournier Furniture, from the Marcel Quenneville collection.





The business started out at 231 Pitt Street, as evidenced by this 1953 newspaper advertisement.



This 1955 sales receipt is from a donation of several hundred family receipts received in 2017 from Elaine Smith. The Mrs. P. Laundrie (often misspelled) named was the donor’s maternal grandmother.




This 1955 sales receipt bears a different brand style.




Later on in 1960 the company relocated a few doors north.





This September 1960 newspaper ad announced the grand opening of the new, larger store at 253 Pitt Street.





In 1967 the whole country was celebrating Canada’s Centennial.




By 1975 the company was a limited partnership.



This May 1976 ad is the latest in our current collection for this retailer.


The store exterior. Today the building is  home to Alpins.

Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | May 5, 2020

William Clayton, Cornwall Jeweller 1900-1911

William Clayton was born in 1866 in Flesherton in Ontario’s Grey County. He was the middle of five children born to George W. Clayton (1832-1910) and Sarah Strachan (1837-1924).

He undertook the first year of apprenticeship in his hometown, followed by four years in Owen Sound. After that he worked short stints in Aurora and Hamilton before being employed for a substantial period at the J.L. Anderson repair shop in Toronto, possibly the largest in the country at that time.

Clayton relocated to Cornwall in 1891 to work in the repair shop of J.F. Milliken & Co’s jewellery store (est. 1874), then one of the largest in Eastern Ontario. A master mechanic and an expert on watch and clock repairs, he became a practically indispensable and trustworthy employee.

When Milliken’s health failed, Clayton purchased the business’ entire stock and its good will and quickly expanded the selection. A July 27 1900 Milliken ad hinted at a pending change.

An August 17 1900 Clayton ad announced the change of ownership.

Located in Pitt Street’s Miller Block, the store was tastefully appointed with considerable variety and reasonable prices.




The business held exclusive Cornwall agency for Excello Silver Polish, popular for cleaning precious metals, china and glass.


This colour photo is from a different era, but Clayton occupied the north stall at 77 Pitt Street on the left corner in later years.



September 28 of 1904 saw Clayton and Helen Maud Paterson united in marriage with the ceremony taking place at the bride’s parents’ (John Paterson and Caroline King) Fourth Street Cornwall residence. Helen was born in 1876 in Levi, QC. The couple raised two daughters, Wilma (1906-1994) and Ida Vina (1911-1999).




It appears that Clayton closed shop shortly after this June 30 1911 advertisement was published. It may be coincidence, but J.R. Maynard began advertising himself as “The New Jeweller” in the vicinity of Clayton’s store, earlier that same month.

We find the couple residing in Saskatoon, SK by 1916. Helen died on June 1 of 1946 in Winnipeg, MB. William’s passing occurred on March 18 of 1957, also in Winnipeg. A branch of the Strachan line now resides in Milford, IA.

Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | May 2, 2020

From Bicycles and Laundry to Automobiles

Like many downtown properties, 148 Pitt Street has witnessed its share of businesses come and go over the years. That building was replaced in 1955 and the building north of it was replaced in 1947.

Guy Brothers Modern Steam Laundry: 1895-1911
The Empire Laundry was founded in 1892 in the Second Street West Standard Block as Cornwall’s first steam laundry. The operation changed ownership five times during its first three years of operation. George and William Guy took over in 1895.

In 1901, the name Guy Brothers signified the end of one business and the relocation of another. Guy Brothers was in the process of winding down their Pitt Street gentlemen’s furnishings business. A December 7 1901 ad stated that J.E. Snetsinger & Co were having a Winding-Up Clearing Sale of Guy Bros. Men’s Furnishings at Guy Brothers old stand on Pitt Street.

Meanwhile, Guy Brothers had already relocated their Water Street West steam laundry to 148 Pitt Street.

By 1907 Guy Brothers had added carpet cleaning to their list of cleaning services.

Mid-July of 1911, Rivier’s High Class Laundry had succeeded Guy Bros.

Cornwall Motor Sales
Ca. 1913, Cornwall Motor Sales launched in the former laundry location, where they remained until 1919, relocating to Second Street West, then to Brookdale Avenue and eventually amalgamating with another GM dealership further north on Brookdale.

Gregson Bicycles
As per this 1907 newspaper ad, Turner Gregson’s Bicycle Shop was located in the north end of the Guy Brothers laundry building; Gregson’s continued to operate there during Cornwall Motor Sales’ time there, as seen in the photo above.

People’s Shoe Rebuilding Shop

A more recent occupant of historic 148 Pitt Street was People’s Shoe Rebuilding Shop.

Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | April 8, 2020

Cornwall Icons-Cornwall-Massena Bridge

Welcome to Part 3 of our series on historic Cornwall icons. Part 2 can be accessed at this LINK.
Whether in summer

or in winter

nothing in Cornwall was more universally visible and identifiable than our community’s historic high level north channel bridge to Cornwall Island.

The creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project necessitated the removal of Cornwall’s first international bridge, known as the Roosevelt Bridge (on the left in the above photo), a former railway bridge planked over to accommodate vehicular traffic, and the creation of a new bridge (on the right in the above photo.)

The high level bridge, about eight blocks long over Cornwall (pictured under construction above), was built tall enough for ships to pass under it on their way up and down the St. Lawrence River, except that none ever had need to. Some folks had a dream of an all-Canadian Seaway that might possibly come about when the American locks reached capacity, therefore a high bridge was erected to allow for that to take place.

July 3rd of 1962 brought with it the official opening ceremonies of the much anticipated high level bridge.

With a cut of the ribbon, the bridge was declared open for use.

And the public was invited to test it out.

This was the original toll both and bridge administration building.

A commemorative token was one of the souvenirs marking the occasion; this one is in the SIB collection at the Cornwall Community Museum.

Our collection also includes a donated bridge attendant uniform, pictured here.


Even now in 2020, the locks are nowhere near capacity yet. So, when the bridge was in serious need of repair, it was less expensive to replace it with the current low level bridge than to implement extensive restoration work.

In the interim, generations of Cornwallites grew up under the shadow of the high level bridge, whose name evolved from the Cornwall-Massena Bridge to the Seaway International Bridge (SIB) to the Three Nations Bridge (under construction in the above photo).

The above SIB photo was taken by Robert Williams in 2013 and a copy donated to the SD&G Historical Society. The view is looking west along a remnant of the Cornwall Canal. The recreation path is to the right.

Robert also submitted this 2011 photo taken from the bridge.

Dismantling the bridge was a lengthy process, one which afforded many great photo opps. Robert Williams documented many great angles, including this now historic bridge view of Brookdale Avenue long before the current realignment of the street.

Frank Wilson contributed this photo taken when sections of the bridge had already been removed.

He was also there the moment that this section was lowered to the street below.


But, before dismantling of the high level bridge got under way, residents were afforded one final opportunity to cross the bridge, not by vehicle, but on foot, to reminisce, take photographs and to bid farewell to an old friend. This photo of the two bridges, taken by Tammy Munroe on the July 8 2014 Bridge Walk, shows the new low level bridge, recently opened to traffic, adjacent to the defunct high level bridge.

Don Smith was among those who were able to attend the historic Bridge Walk to capture a moment in time; the Bonaparte family, on the right of the photo, joined hundreds of people from the area who came out that day.

Here is another of Don’s images from the Walk.

Joseph Bonaparte photographed one of the historic displays on exhibit that day.

Kim Morrissette captured this one,

and this one, too.

Kim also spotted this youngster taking home a piece of the bridge for posterity.

Local photographer Jason Setnyk was there during peak turnout in time to get this great crowd shot.

Tammy Coleman observed that some four-legged visitors took advantage of the opportunity to take in the bird’s eye view.

Rob Fry was standing … we’re not quite certain where he was standing, but what a great shot, Rob!

Holley Boots photographed some residents of Akwesasne who came to honour the memory of Frederick G. (Swasen) Boots, whose portrait they carried with them. Swasen, at the age of 20, fell some 75 feet to his death while on a pole, painting a section of the five year old north channel bridge. Don Smith interviewed some of Swasen’s family to record his story. His article in The Seeker can be found at this LINK.

Ross Dobson was there to catch a glimpse of visitors as they completed their farewell Bridge Walk.

This historic bridge truly was an icon of our community.

We thank the many people who publicly shared images from the Bridge Walk, a few of which are posted here, enabling this blog post to be truly a community effort.

Some of the historic photographs were taken by the now late Marcel Quenneville; we are blessed to be custodians of thousands of his professional images.

Stay tuned for Part 4.






Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | April 8, 2020

Cornwall Icons-Post Office

Part 1 of this new series can be accessed at this LINK.
In this second installment in our series on Cornwall’s iconic places, we recall our Neo-Gothic post office at the n.w. corner of Pitt Street at Second Street West.

When the St. Lawrence Seaway was being created, there was a sense that it would bring prosperity to our community and heighten its importance. Therefore a prestigious address for the Seaway administration building was desired. Pitt and Second was the principal intersection, the height of Cornwall’s downtown, so one of those four corners was sought.

Since only that corner was government-owned, it was the path of least resistance and selected as the site. The post office had to go.

However, the former post office lives on in our memories, in great photographs such as these as well as through Cornwall post office souvenirs such as those below.

These souvenirs are on exhibit in your Cornwall Community Museum.

Do you have fond memories of this former Cornwall landmark?

In the third installment in our series on Cornwall icons at this LINK, we look at the former high level Seaway International Bridge.

Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | April 7, 2020

Cornwall Icons – Pitt Street

In every era, our city has had streets, structures and other features that spoke loudly:  “this is Cornwall.”

Cornwall’s downtown, and more specifically, Pitt Street, was long thought of as an identifiable feature, symbolic of our community.

Both by day and by night,

and in every era, the sights, sounds and smells along Pitt Street were an attraction, a place where Cornwallites were proud to bring their out of town guests.

Indeed, this was so much the case that a variety of souvenirs were created to celebrate Cornwall’s “Main Street.”



Some of the souvenirs even had a practical side.

Each of these Cornwall souvenirs and others are on exhibit at your Cornwall Community Museum.

Perhaps you have your own favourite memories of Pitt Street, be it pre, post or pedestrian mall era.

In Part 2 of this series at this LINK we look at another iconic Cornwall landmark, Cornwall’s Neo-Gothic post office.






Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | March 24, 2020

Elegant dining at La Seigneurie St Laurent in Glen Walter

Opening at Noon on November 1976 in the former Craig family’s St. Lawrence Lodge, La Seigneurie St Laurent boasted of four dining rooms and a licenced lounge on two levels as well as hot and cold kitchens. The facility was staffed with a chef, sous-chef, apprentice chef, kitchen helper, three dishwashers, five bus boys, 10 waiters, four waitresses and had a capacity of 96 patrons. Dinner was French cuisine served on fine English china under the care of chef Peter MacDonald, a 32 year old with 16 years experience. MacKay custom-designed the $30,000 kitchen.

Scenery, proximity to the river and golf course and location on Heritage Highway #2, were all deemed to be selling points.

The idea for the restaurant came from a tourism presentation in 1970. The presenter posited that if Cornwall was ever to grow as a tourism centre, it would need a high-end restaurant. Cornwall entrepreneur George Assaly took the message to heart. The partnership which registered as Strasborg Enterprises Limited had Assaly as its president and Donald McKay as secretary-treasurer and restaurant manager.

The partners purchased and restored the 1828 Craig home, which was enlarged in 1910. Featuring 11 bedrooms, high ceilings and spacious rooms, the building, after expanding some rooms for dining, was well-suited to functioning as a restaurant.

Future plans called for an open-air theatre and boat docking across the street.

Tragedy struck in January of 1981; a catastrophic fire brought about the end of La Seigneurie St Laurent.



Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | February 17, 2020

McGuire Fuels: A Cornwall Institution for 76 Years

William Clarence McGuire (1871-1950), was one of ten siblings born to John Alfred McGuire (1843-1916) and Anne Bobier (1847-1928) in Bristol, QC. The others were John, Alfred, Herbert, Victor, Milton, Charles, Martha, Buddie and Verna.

Their father, John Alfred, was a tanner in Bristol, QC. He was known as proprietor of the Shawville Russell House hotel, and at an early point in his life, a champion beard grower.

W.C. McGuire graduated from McGill University in 1893 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and relocated to Cornwall in 1895.

In 1900 he married Isabella McLennan (1872-1925) and together they raised seven children, John Alfred (1901-1986), Clarence Herbert (1903-1999), Anna Isabella/Isobel (1905-1980), Pearl Gladys (1907-1980), Mildred Verna (1909-1995), Norman/Nick McLennan (1911-1976) and Charles Ernest (1912-1996).

In 1906 the family lived at this Second Street East Victorian style home.

Later the family lived in a large brick house at 219 Amelia Street. That house is also remembered for operating as Caron’s Tourist Home. Today the house no longer stands, the property now part of the parking lot for the Knights of Columbus Hall to the south.

His eldest son, Dr. John McGuire, was a well-known Cornwall physician; his 215 Sydney Street house is now home to Warner Insurance.

Pictured above is Dr. W.C. McGuire with George Green.

In addition to practicing veterinary medicine, in 1900 Dr. W.C. founded W.C. McGuire handling coal and wood, which later became W.C. McGuire & Sons and finally McGuire Fuels Ltd. The yard and business office were located at 30 First St. E.

Crowe’s Confectionery and Crowe’s Rooming House were to their east (1978 photo).

The confectionery had previously been home to Alex’s Groceteria then Wattie’s Groceteria.

H.D. Atkinson’s large complex was to their west at 22.

In 1912, four silos were built on the McGuire property to store and screen anthracite coal and to speed handling and loading. These silos were considered a big step forward in the handling of coal and were used as a model for building similar facilities in other centres.

1918This was McGuire’s delivery fleet in 1918.Note the change in business name above.

32 1st St E_McGuire Bros Sporting Goods_1936Prior to joining their father in the coal business, in 1936 youngest sons Nick and Charles opened McGuire Bros. Sporting Goods at 32 First Street East, close to the new Water Street arena which replaced the burned-out Victoria Rink.

The retired veterinarian died in Lakehurst, Ontario in 1950 while on a ten-day vacation in the area. He had served on the Town Council and Public School Board and was a milk and food inspector for 25 years. McGuire was a member of the Cornwall Masonic Lodge, the Cornwall Preceptory Knights Templar, Royal Arch Masons and local Odd Fellows Lodge.

Club Champs_1940.Additionally, he was involved in reorganizing the Cornwall Curling Club. Pictured are the 1940 Champions – Top left, James Dawson Lead; top right, Charles Rodger, Skip; bottom left, A.W. Jackson, second, bottom right, Dr. W.C. McGuire, Vice skip.

Curling Club_11 Amelia_1990When the new Amelia Street club, which was built in 1948, was officially opened in February of 1949, W.C McGuire was present along with club president Drummond Giles, J.G. Sutherland, J.M. Timberlake, W.A. Dingwall, H. Meadd, Mayor Aaron Horovitz, Charles E. Armstrong, John L. MacDonald M.P.P. Stormont and William Smart of Montreal.

W.C. McGuire funeral detailsAround the time of W.C.’s funeral, patrons visiting the shop were met with this notice.

Following their father’s death, Nick and Charles McGuire continued to operate W.C. McGuire & Sons.

early constn phase of Powerhouse - view from the Maple Grove lookout CRIn following years, the business expanded into the handling of bituminous coal, and later into the delivery of heating oil. During the navigation season, coal was delivered by canal ships.

Amos Coal dock building and scale CRtA 1951 contract between the C.L. Amos Coal Company of Montreal and Nick and Charles, operating as W.C. McGuire & Sons, has them maintaining and operating a coal dock and yard on the Cornwall Canal near Maple Grove, west of the City of Cornwall. This was described as being located on property forming part of Lot 22 in the First Concession of Cornwall Township. The property featured 530′ of water frontage, a depth of 500′ and storage capacity of 100,000 tons of bituminous coal for industrial and commercial use.

Cities Svc_Milton Matheson home moved to LSThe original dock and depot were on Lot 22 along the Cornwall Canal near Maple Grove. Milton Matheson’s Cities Service was to north. The Matheson house, west of the service station, was re-located to Long Sault in anticipation of the 1958 St. Lawrence Seaway & Power Project Inundation.

St. Lawrence Power Project Plan(1)Due to the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, the coal dock was temporarily relocated to just west of the Stormont Diversion Canal opposite Seymour Avenue.Stormont Mill_scan0069 FXThe Diversion Canal and former Power Plant, west of the Stormont cotton mill, are visible along the top of the photo.

St. Lawrence Power Project Plan(2)Ultimately the dock was further relocated to a site on the north bank of the canal just west of Riverdale, near the current soccer fields – a matter of some controversy at the time.

00 block of Pitt thru Sydney_pre-Cwl Sq_labCoal was delivered to their First Street East location via the Street Railway tracks, the latter’s depot located directly south.


Charles McGuireA 1958 contract outlined the terms under which Charles bought out his bother Nick’s share of the business, continuing to operate it as McGuire Fuels Ltd..

February 1950With the shift from coal to oil, the three-storey coal bins/silo would disappear ca. 1965.Aerial_1966-07_McGuire FuelsThis July 1966 Marcel Quenneville aerial illustrates McGuire’s reduced footprint. The Street Railway had taken over the former silo area as a fueling station.

62 Pitt_Hermiston and Comrie beside Snetsinger Block_WLG Snetsinger_early 1900s_LVHS276_sharpened CRFrom 1969-1978 the business relocated to 62 Pitt Street at the location of the former Hermiston and Comrie plumber storefront pictured here.

Seeley Outdoor Advertising Ltd took over the 30-32 First Street East location. The property has since been absorbed by the parking garage for the Cornwall Square shopping centre.

66_68_70_72_74 Pitt_Snetsinger Block_IOOF 1972-11-02 Fire_Exterior_demo_2017-28.19_wmIn the 1972 photograph below, McGuire Fuels Ltd. can be seen to the south of the Snetsinger Building (a parking lot today). The busy business block was demolished after a fire that year.

1975 McGuire Fuels coll. Peter McGuire, Ottawa

62 Pitt_McGuire Fuels Ltd_1978 City Directory-32In 1976 Charles signed a contract, which closed on December 3, to sell McGuire Fuels to Golden Eagle Canada Limited, agreeing to stay on to manage the business for at least one year following September 1st.

McGuire Fuels operated as a family-owned Cornwall business for 76 years and at least one additional year under new ownership.

58-62 Pitt has since been home to a series of stores and pubs. Ada’s Place opened in June of 1987, followed by Mexicali Rosa’s, Serrano Restaurant & Pizzeria, Bo Jangles Sports Bar & Grill, Deke & Squeek’s Bar and now Lounge 58 Bar & Grill.

We appreciate the considerable contributions of Jennifer McKendry (niece of Charles McGuire) and Peter McGuire (son of Charles). Jennifer is an architectural historian living in the Kingston area. Jennifer and her mother Ruth McLeod McKendry authored ‘Hold Fast: The Story of William & Catherine McLeod and their Descendants, Glengarry County’. Peter and his family live in Ottawa, still summer vacationing on Hamilton’s Island.

Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | January 9, 2020

Bath Tub Derby Flashback

Locally, the Bath Tub Derby was born in 1968 when eight locals sat down to organize it, using a dog-eared photo of the World Championship in Nanaimo, BC for inspiration.

The Derby was preceded by the Great St. Lawrence Endurance Race from Brockville to Cornwall, passing over the Hydro Dam into the remains of the Cornwall Canal to the finish line at the foot of the Augustus Street swing bridge.

In the 1970 inaugural International Seaway Bathtub Derby race, “15 tubs started … six arrived afloat and under their own power at Johnstown, just east of Prescott. Each tub was accompanied by a rescue boat, and the rescue boats were going crazy.”

“One tub swamped twice on the first seven kilometers … another gave Ewan Girard the Derby altitude record by turning a complete somersault when it smacked into a two metre wave at 29 knots.”

Modified tubs – “tubs with souped-up or special racing motors” – made their first appearance at the Derby in 1970.

Many of the photos posted here were taken by Marcel Quenneville.

Intl Seaway Bathtub Derby_2020-09-03d_webIn one of his columns he recalled heading to the Standard-Freeholder basement darkroom one spring 1970 evening only to spot three of his work buddies on their knees building a bathtub boat, preparing for the 3-day International event a few months away. The photo above is from the Eric Watt collection; pictured is a young Claude McIntosh, practicing with his tub in the swimming pool at the former YM/YWCA on 5th Street East.

The August 1970 event drew 19 floats which travelled along Pitt Street to the Cornwall Canal.

“Dances were held, but the main attraction was on Saturday afternoon when the races occurred,” said Quenneville. “People started arriving two hours before the event.

Intl Seaway Bathtub Derby_2020-09-01 CR_webBy mid-day police estimated 20,000 had lined the canal watching this amusing spectacle.”

Immediately people from as far away as Illinois began making plans for the following year, but that was not to be.

Intl Seaway Bathtub Derby_2020-09-02_webThe Cornwall Canal with 35 acres of waterfront property was offered to the City for a token $1 and was to disappear to progress, in spite of considerable heated debate.

The maze of power lines on the north canal bank were vaulted underground. The above photo is from the Cornwall Electric collection.

In the autumn of 1971, a major portion of the remaining post-Inundation canal opposite the original Square Mile town was filled and levelled with topsoil. The majority of the 11.5 mile Cornwall Canal had already disappeared in 1958 with the Inundation that wiped out the now Lost Villages, created Lake St. Lawrence / the head pond for the Saunders Generating Station and in the following year, the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway for international shipping.

The former canal lands continue to evolve, forming what most consider to be Cornwall’s waterfront gem.

Older Posts »


Cornwall Industry

A Cornwall Community Museum Blog

Cornwall Canal and Shipping History

A Cornwall Community Museum Publication

Cornwall Community Museum

In The Wood House at the waterfront, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada