Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 13, 2017

Christmas on Pitt Street, or the Cats visit Cornwall, part III.

Children lining-up to see Santa Claus, Cornwall, ca. 1960.

A letter to Santa from John in depression era Glengarry County.


This is the third in a series of Christmas stories written by Mary Ross-Ross for her husband Philip.

Susie Belle came hurrying into the house from her work in the barn.

Susie Belle, one year old.

“I wish Philip liked to eat mice,” she said.

“I had planned to give him a brace for Christmas, but when I took him one to him when he was sick in bed he didn’t seem grateful, so now I shall have to make an effort and go to Cornwall to find something.”

“Let’s go soon,” said Doodlebug.

“Before the shops get too crowded.”

“Yes!” said Pedalpusher, “And before Mrs, Hall sells all the red tricycles so I won’t miss my Christmas treat.”

So they set a date, and on the appointed day Susie Belle wore her grey furs and they all pulled on their fur mittens and climbed into the car with Laddie.  The dog didn’t like driving very much, but felt he had to go to guard everyone – and besides he couldn’t trust his shopping to anyone else, especially those cats!

After a pleasant drive along the River, the car was parked and they trooped into Hall Brother’s store singing “Jingle Bells,”  Shouting “Merry Christmas ” to Mrs. Hall, Laddie had just started toEdwardian era Christmas postcard.

exchange a few pleasantries  with Alex when he was nearly knocked off his feet by a red tricycle with Pedalpusher at the helm.  “No Pedalpusher,” he barked, “Business first, pleasure afterwards,” and he lifted him firmly off the bike and escorted him from the store.

Pitt St. was looking very festive and all the cats wanted to stop and look in every window, but Laddie kept them moving and took them into Zellers where Pedalpusher purchased his traditional present of three red handkerchiefs.

“Now come across the street,” said Jackie, and he went into a very exclusive candy shop (Laura Secords) and bought Philip a five cent stick of barley sugar.

“Now, I have to go to Webers,” said Laddie.  When they got there the store was very busy and they had to wait a few minutes before Laddie could speak to his friend Mr. Sliter.

“Will you please wrap up one of those Lovely Lady calendars like I bought last year,” he said.

“I’am sorry,” said Mr. Sliter.  “But we couldn’t get any this year.”

“What! no calendar?” said Laddie, and his ears and tail dropped in a dejected manner.

Card display at Weber’s Cornwall.  The business was in operation from 1876 to 1987, when Thelma and Harry Sliter closed it upon their retirement.

The cats were very sorry for him and took him back to Mrs. hall’s where he confided his troubles to Christena.

“I’ll tell you what,” said Christena, after listening .

“If you can’t get what Philip wants, why not get something you want?”

“What a good idea,” said Laddie, cheering up.  “I need a brush, so Philip can brush me, have you got one?”

Christena looked in the glass case and found a brush.  “That will be just the thing,” said Laddie.  “Please wrap it up for me.”

Meanwhile Susie Belle had been waiting and Mr. Ouimette asked if he could help her.  She said “Thank-you, but it is something domestic I want, so I need to speak to Christena.”

After Christena gave Laddie his parcel, she turned to Susie Belle.

“I would like one of those purring machines that sit on top of stove,” said Susie Belle.

“Do you mean a kettle?” asked Christena.

“That’s the name,” said Susie Belle.

“Philip has a new Franklin stove in the kitchen and I thought it would be nice to sit on top of it and purr to remind him of me.”

Christena showed her several shining kettles and she chose the medium sized one.  Just as Christena was about to finish wrapping the kettle, Pedalpusher flew by on the tricycle screaming, “Lppl out! her comes Sputnik.”

Having had his fun Pedalpusher now left the tricycle behind and joined the rest of the cats and Laddie in wishing everyone at Mrs. Hall’s a Merry Christmas.

Join us on Saturday Dec. 16th from 1 pm to 4 pm for an old-fashioned Christmas sing along at the Cornwall Community Museum.

Info:     613 936-0280


Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 13, 2017

Long Sault Rapids, exposed, April 4th – Dec. 11, 1957.

For centuries the Long Sault Rapids on the St. Lawrence River, west of Cornwall, had been in turn been a barrier to river travel, a tourism mecca, and a problem that had to be overcome.

In October 1956, the building of the St. Lawrence, dictated that the rapids be stilled and a skip, such as the one shown above, holding 25 tons of stone was employed to “drown” the Rapids.

The Rapids did not succumb easily, and as the gap in the stone dam began to close, the rocks dumbed into the river were simply carried away.  To prevent the boulders from being swept away, engineers developed the “hexapedian,” constructed of welded girders with six steel legs.  Carried away on the first drop, “the hexapedian was dropped into the torrential gap (for second time)…Boulders were quickly dumped on top of it and the gap narrowed.”  (Marin, F. & C., SD & G, 1945 – 78, pg. 22.)

The Rapids were stilled on April 4, 1957 and reflooded in Dec. of the same year.

The pot holes under the Long Sault Rapids, 1957.

A conservationist looking for trapped fish after the  draining of the Long Sault Rapids.17 year-old Arthur Raymond displays an anchor and cannon balls found on the floor of the dry Rapids’ river bed.

To learn more about the Long Sault Rapids, the building of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Lost Villages and the folk lore of the St. Lawrence River visit the Cornwall Community Museum to obtain a copy of THE LIVING RIVER, above, $30 a copy.

Please note that not all of the photographs shown here are in the book, but not to worry there are well over 150 others.

Signed copies will be offered at the special price of $27, for one day only, during the Museum’s Christmas sing-along on Saturday Dec. 16th from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Signed copies of UNFORGOTTEN will also be available at the sale price of $13, at the same time, for one day only.

Please note that the Museum closes for the Season on Sunday Dec. 17th, until January 2nd, 2018.

Info:    613 936-0280

Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 9, 2017

Birks’ sterling silver sardine fork.

I ask you, what home would be complete without a sardine fork?

This sterling silver example was made by Birks’ during the 1940s, and used by Cornwall’s Barclay family.

Donated by Ellis Barclay in 2013.

Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 9, 2017

Cornwall local history bookroom.

This signed copy of Rhodes Grant’s history of Martintown is available only at the Cornwall Community Museum for only $20.

Looking to please local history enthusiasts with hard to find out of print histories of Eastern Ontario?

Visit the bookroom at the Cornwall Community Museum and you may just find what you want, well below auction prices.

The room is open this year until Dec. 17th only.  Hours:  Wed. to Sun., 11 am to 4 pm.

Please cash or cheques only.  No tax!

Info:   613 936-0280;




And many, many more!


Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 9, 2017

King Street, Iroquois, Ontario.

A demi-tasse cup and saucer with a transfer image from a postcard of pre World War I King St. W., Iroquois.

Made in England – Florentine China.

The image is pre war, but the mark dates the manufacture of this item to the mid 1920s.

A postcard with the same scene as depicted on the tea cup, pre World War I.

Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 8, 2017

Silver Chalice presented to the Rev. H. Urquhart, 1827.

This English silver chalice, which was probably made in London around 1791, was not inscribed until 1827.

It was presented to the Reverend Hugh Urquhart who arrived in Montreal in 1822 and taught at the Montreal Academic Institution.  It was presented to him when he moved to Cornwall and St. John’s Presbyterian Church in 1827.


top:  Semper Honos nornquetium laudesque menebunt

Montreal Feb’y A.D. 1827

Bottom:  Presented to the Rev. Hugh Urquhart By his late Mathematical class in testimony of their regard and esteem for him as their master and friend.

This chalice was donated to the museum in 2010 by a visitor from Cambridge, Ontario.




Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 8, 2017

Ewardian doll clothes, belonging to Mary Mack, ca. 1903.

This navy blue double sailor coat with gold and white metallic thread on the cuffs belonged to Mary Mack of Cornwall age 3 – 4, ca. 1903.

The coat is on display in the bedroom at the museum.

The brim on this straw doll’s hat is held in place with rhinestone and cut glass pin.  It is decorated with ostrich feathers.

The hat belonged to Mary Mack of Cornwall.

Velvet cream coloured Edwardian doll’s pill box hat.

The hat belonged to Mary Mack ca. 1903.

These three artifacts were donated by Miss Mack.

If you want to learn more about Cornwall’s Miss Mark Mack, the City’s first female politician, socialite, artist and activist be sure to obtain a copy of UNFORGOTTEN MARY MACK, CORNWALL’S FIRST LADY, for $15 at the Museum only.

For one day only, on Dec. 16, from 1 pm to 4 pm you can purchase a signed copy of this book and THE LIVING RIVER – SECRETS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE, at the Cornwall Community Museum’s sing-along and open house.

Info:  613 936-0280;

Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 8, 2017

Edwardian crumb tray and sweeper.

An Ewardian nickle plated crumb tray and sweeper, found in the 1901/02 edition of the Eaton catalogue.  This example was used by the Begg Family of Moose Creek, and donated to the museum by Ron Begg in 2014.

Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 8, 2017

Canadian Christmas

Santa Claus visits the Brookdale Mall, ca. 1970.  Woolco is in the background.

On December 16th from 1 pm to 4 pm, Mr. and Mrs. S. Claus will be at the Cornwall Community Museum.  Along with our special guests the museum will be holding a traditional Christmas sing-along, and book sale of local histories, such as the biography of Mary Mack.

Christmas has been celebrated in Canada since the arrival of the first Europeans.

In 1645, the “Jesuit Relations” recorded this midnight Mass at Quebec.

“The first stroke of the midnight mass rang at 11 o’clock, the 2nd, a little before the half hour; and then they began ti sing two airs ‘Venez mon Dieu,’ and ‘Chantons Noel.’  Monsieur de la Ferte sang the bass: St. Martin played the violin; there was also a German flute, which proved to be out of tune when they came to the church.  We had finished a little before midnight; they nevertheless sang the ‘Te Deum,” and a little later a cannon shot was fired as the signal of midnight, when mass began; the bread was blessed when the priest went to open his book.  This was the first bread blessed for several years, during which it had been stopped, on account of the precedence in its distribution which everyone claimed.  The renewal

Postcard ca. 1910.

of the custom was caused by the devotion of the toolmakers, whose devotion urged them to have it during midnight mass; and people’s minds were disposed to restore this custom.  Monsieur the Governor received the chateau (the piece of consecrated bread which is sent to the person who is to furnish the bread on the Sunday morning following): what was done to obviate the complications of the preferences claimed was, to order that after a portion had been given to the priest and to the governor, all the other’s should receive as they might come and chance to be in the church beginning now in the front, and now in the rear.”

“Monsieur the Governor had given orders to fire several cannon shot at the elevation, when our brother the sacristan should give the signal; but he forgot it, and thus there was no salute.”  The people received communion at the end of high mass; after which a low mass was said.

A rare aluminum postcard, circa 1900.

“There were four candles in the church in small iron candlesticks in the form of a bracket, and that is enough.  There were, besides two great kettles full of fire, furnished by the warehouse in order to warm the chapel; they were kindled beforehand, on the bridge.”

One hundred and seventy-five years later John Howison in “Sketches of Upper Canada,” recorded:

“When it was midnight, I walked out, and strolled in the woods…I was suddenly roused from a delicious reverie by observing a dark object moving slowly and cautiously among the trees.  At first I fancied it was a bear but a nearer inspection discovered an Indian on all fours.  For a moment I felt unwilling to throw myself in his way lest he should be mediating some sinister design against me; however on his waving his hand and putting his finger on his lips, I approached him, and notwithstanding his injunction to silence, inquired when he did there.”

“Me watch to see the deer kneel,” he replied.

“This is Christmas night and all the deer fall upon their knees to the Great Spirit, and look up.”

“The solemnity of the scene and the grandeur of the idea alike contributed to fill me with awe.”

A Supertest gas station in Cornwall illuminated to celebrate the season.

In 1872, the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava wife of the Governor-General wrote from Rideau Hall in Ottawa:

“Christmas Day – thermometer 20 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.  Proprieties out of the question – must go to church in sealskin turbans, and must undress when we get there, as we sit near the stove; so that when we leave, the amount of things to put on is frightful.  There are my cloak, and my cloud and turban and gloves”

“The Fred and D. have to be clothed; happily everyone in the church is equally busy muffling up.  D. you will be surprised to hear wears absolutely less than he used to in May at home, and scarcely seems to feel the cold at all.  Fred, too, bears it well, with the exception of his ears, about which he is decidedly nervous.  He is always feeling them and inquiring from passers-by whether they are frozen.  The children play in the snow as if it were hay, and enjoy themselves immensely.”

“Their nurse, Mrs. Halls, dislikes wrapping up, but has been consoled by a present of a pair of skates.  Their governess is learning too; she won’t wrap up, and I really fear some accident for her; nothing but frostbite will make her careful.”

“We arranged a Christmas tree, and this evening all the children of the family assembled for it.”

A Christmas tree in a Cornwall home, circa 1940.

“They came at 5, and the nine of them, with their governesses and nurses, were ushered into the room with great ceremony.  Hermie rushed at a doll. ‘There is my doll,’ and kissed it most fervently.  Of course they all got various presents, and the big ones dined with us, and afterward played blind man’s bluff, snap dragon, etc., etc.”

Paraphrasing a Newfoundland poem, I would like to wish:

Your pocket full of money, and your cellar full of beer.

I wish you all a merry Christmas and hope to see you in your museum on December 16th, this year!Admission to this event is free.

Info:  613 936-0280;



Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | December 8, 2017

Seaway Ginger Ale bottle, 1958 – 59.

A 30 fluid ounce bottle of Seaway Ginger Ale from the Friendly Retail Grocers aka FAG.  Extra Quality Dry.

Found at a local flea market in 1994.

Any further information would be welcome.

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