Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | March 25, 2014

In History – The Historic Bike Path: A Sneak Preview

Upon first glance, Lamoureux Park may not seem like a very historic place, but it’s actually where modern Cornwall began!

First with the Loyalist Landing of 1784, situated along the ridge between the children’s park and the museum; the waterfront continues to play a significant role in Cornwall’s development. Starting with the Canada Cotton Mill in the east end, we’ll take a look at some of the most historic points.

old cornwall0016The east end turned into Cornwall’s industrial powerhouse when the water rights from the Cornwall Canal were leased to mill owners. The Canada Mill achieved world wide fame when the weave shed opened in 1883. The largest structure in the British Empire was also the second factory in Canada to be lighted by Thomas Edison.

Just across the street, you can see the remains of the Dundas Mill. Built for the Cornwall Manufacturing Co. in 1870, the mill was renamed Dundas in 1902.

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Mack Mill

If you continue west you will pass the sites of both the Flack and Van Arsdale Pottery and Mack Mill.

canal0005If you venture toward the river you will see the dry docks, the entrance is still visible. Along the river you’ll find the  second, 1882 canal  entrance.

canal0004The Cornwall Canal, started in 1834 and completed in 1843, was the last link in the water transportation route between Upper and Lower Canada.

As you pass the civic complex, take a moment to remember that this building and the bandshell would have been under water a century ago, until filled in.

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Mayor Horovitz’s annual picnic.

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Swimming pool in Horovitz Park

As you approach the Citizen of the Year pathway look at what remains of Horovitz Park and try to visualise an outdoor pool, a bandshell, and the mayor’s annual outdoor picnic.

Most of what is now the Cornwall Square was used to house Cornwall’s streetcars.

Pitt Street ca. 1950

Pitt Street ca. 1950

When you reach the clocktower at the foot of Pitt Street, you are near the King’s Stores, established by the British to provide basics to the Loyalist settlers in 1784.

Pitt Street ca. 1996

Pitt Street ca. 1996

As for the clocktower, the clock comes from the old post office torn down in the mid-1950s to make way for the yellow Seaway Building.

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This aerial photograph shows the canal and oil tanks before the canal and dry docks were filled in. The whitened part of the photographs shows the outline for today’s Lamoureux Park.

You might also notice the curious fact that the area of the Loyalist Landing is named after Lucien Lamoureux, a former speaker of the House of Commons and local Member of Parliament. The Cornwall area is unique in the sense that is it the only place in Ontario, that I know of, where places are named after people while they are still alive – along with this park, we have Guindon Park, the Ed Lumley Arena, and the Lionel Chevrier building to name the most obvious.

 

scan0021As you continue, you will pass our Georgian style courthouse and jail. The naval cannons in front of the building are War of 1812 vintage from Fort Henry, while the stocks are a “tourist attraction.”

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Dr. Darby Bergin

Continue into the park and you will come across the eastern abutment to the canal swing bridge, which now doubles as a monument to injured workers, and Dr. Darby Bergin, the Cornwall politician who first introduced the notion of safety legislation in the workplace in the 1880s.

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Wood House at Second Street W.

Wood House at it's current home in Lamoureux Park.

Wood House at it’s current home in Lamoureux Park.

By now you will have reached the Cornwall Community Museum in the Wood House. Built by United Empire Loyalist William Wood out of stone probably intended for the canal (or a British fort), the house was constructed in two sections with the oldest dating back to the early 1840s.

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Moving the house from Second Street W. to Lamoureux Park took about four and a half hours.

In the year 2000, the house was moved from it’s original location on Second Street to the park, where it was lovingly restored and expanded.

scrap0008From here we move to the parking lot, which once formed part of the old canal. Across the street , Cornwall’s first hospital the Hotel Dieu was opened by the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph in June 1897. The 17-bed hospital outfitted with one operating room was located in John Sandfield Mcdonald’s former home, Ivy Hall.

canal master0004As you head further west you will come to the RCAF’s home. Built between 1871 and 1882, it was the canal superintendent’s home and was popularly known as the Red House.

As you approach Cumberland Street you will come to the watery remains of the canal that heads south to the truncated remains of an old powerhouse. When the canal was closed, its flow of fresh water was cut off. As a result the water stagnated leading to disease. To solve the problem the bulldozers were brought in on Nov. 1, 1971.

scan0154In front, you will pass under the Seaway International Bridge. Constructed in two parts, the north (Cornwall) span opened in 1962. Crossing both the canal and the river, the bridge has a 36.6 metre (120-foot) clearance, the admit the passage of sea-going vessels in the event Canada built its own Canadian Seaway. Overall the bridge is 1,624.8 metres long, and the roadway is 8.2 metres wide. Time has shown that the Honourable Lionel Chevrier and his planners were wrong about the Canadian Seaway and the bridge has been replaced with a lower crossing.

As you approach Domtar you will see the weir, and then Canal Lock 18. Completed in 1904, this Lock was 270 feet long, 45 feet wide and 14.25 feet deep.

domtar0001Domtar Fine Papers was built in 1883 and known as the Toronto Paper Manufacturing Company. In 1919 the mill became Howard Smith Paper Mills Ltd., and Domtar in 1968.

The bike path now dips below the canal and you come across two piers and some rapids in the river. These are the remains of the the north span of the New York Central Railway bridge.

scan0060Built to link Ottawa to Tupper Lake and New England, work began in 1897. Tragedy struck in 1898 when a pier on the south span failed claiming 15 lives.

In 1908, pier nine collapsed from the pressure of water rushing out of a break in the Cornwall Canal, causing the swing bridge to give-way, and the wheel to slide into the St. Lawrence River.

In 1908, pier nine collapsed from the pressure of water rushing out of a break in the Cornwall Canal, causing the swing bridge to give-way, and the wheel to slide into the St. Lawrence River.

Disaster struck again in 1908 when Pier 9, on the south bank of the Cornwall Canal gave way, taking part of the draw span and swing bridge wheel with it.

The wheel from the swing bridge that collapsed in 1908. Photo ca. 1998

The wheel from the swing bridge that collapsed in 1908. Photo ca. 1998

The wheel, with an adjacent plaque, is still there creating the rapids.

Bridge Disaster0006The bridge was renamed the Roosevelt International Bridge in 1934 and planked for vehicular traffic.

Continuing west you will come to Lock 19 and the Moses-Saunders International Hydro-Electric Power Dam, opened in 1958 and the channel for the never completed all Canadian Seaway, leading to the false locks, popularly known as the “Chevrier Locks.”

This is just a taste of what we have planned for the summer months. Stay tuned for more!

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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

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