Much of the strip of land immediately east of the Square Mile, between Marlborough Street and McConnell Avenue, was known as the Dingwall Estate on Lot 7. That strip included what became the Bob Turner Arena and the Joe St. Denis Field, both at the Cornwall Athletic Grounds at the s.e. corner of 4th and Marlborough Streets. At its inception, the Cornwall Athletic Grounds, although in the Township outside of Cornwall, was owned by the City and operated by the Cornwall Athletic Commission. It was considered as one of the finest playing fields in the Dominion and the centre for lacrosse, softball, baseball, rugby and others as well as serving as a community playground. For other great images and related commentary on the work of the Cornwall Athletic Commission, please see our post on O.C.O.T. at this LINK.
A 1927 Cornwall plebiscite saw 376 in favour of Cornwall purchasing the Grounds and 102 opposed. The majority abstained from voting.
Prior to the construction of the arena, a large grand stand backed onto Marlborough Street. Can you identify the water tower in the background?
In 1950 a wind storm toppled the old 3,000 seat wooden grand stand, which also featured a steep wooden toboggan slide. There was discussion on replacing the grand stand with a concrete version, but bleachers were decided upon instead.
In the above photo mayor Archie Lavigne and Larry Kean Sr stand amid a group of boys who anticipate the sod-breaking for the new arena, which officially opened in 1961 and was re-named in honour of the late Bob Turner the following year. Below is the completed arena.
In 2013 the City demolished the arena in favour of newer facilities across town. The refrigeration equipment was salvaged and placed in use at the Beachburg arena.
Also across Fourth Street, the Cornwall Armoury
and north of there the Cornwall Army Basic Training Centre #31 during World War II.
Notice how rural the area appeared back then. Please follow this LINK to view a post on the CA(B)TC.
When it came time to dismantle the camp, many of the huts were re-located to area parks for use as club houses. Two of them also made their way to First Street West and put together in an inverted “T” with the front building bricked for use as a YMCA.
This aerial view is ca. 1960 after the camp disappeared and prior to new residential neighbourhoods opening up on the former camp grounds across from the Hospital. The municipal water tower was erected near the intersection of Ninth and Marlborough Streets and has since been replaced with a newer style tower several blocks north. An apartment building was erected and still stands south of the former water tower. The School for Retarded Children (later known as the Kinsmen School) was erected near the intersection of Ninth and McConnell and recently demolished to create a safer intersection. On the north side of Ninth Street can be seen the former Bell Canada building, which has since been demolished and a retail plaza erected on that small strip of land.
At the southeast edge of the former Camp 31 sits the now closed Gladstone Public School at 825 McConnell Avenue. In 2017 Bridgewood School replaced Gladstone and East front Public Schools.
Brothers Henry and John Whittaker opened their fruit and vegetable store east of the Athletic Grounds in 1888. By WWI they were wholesaling flowers and ultimately made the florist trade their business. In addition to their greenhouses and store at 302 Baldwin Avenue, for a time they operated a downtown gift shop. The photo below is the view of the greenhouses from McConnell Avenue ca. 1960.
Four generations later they quietly closed shop one morning in May of 2010. In 2017 Whittaker’s still stands, boarded up and the greenhouses are overgrown with weeds and trees now. For more information on Whittaker Brothers, please follow this LINK to our related article.
To return to our main post on Historic Cornwall neighbourhoods, please follow this LINK.