Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | January 14, 2016

Artifact of the Week. Trolley car posters for John G. Hunter and R.M. Pitts & Co. of Cornwall


The story behind this World War I era trolley car poster is as interesting as the poster.  It was found in the old Hodge House on 1st Street East, under two layers of second story sagging floors during restoration along with 20 other similar sized advertising cards.   The house belonged to William Hodge who was the president of Cornwall Street Railway.  They are the correct size to fit in the advertising card spot on trolley cars, and I speculate that Hodge took them home and placed in between the floors for some reason, nearly a century ago, before they were found this holiday season.


This business was opened in 1834 when Hunter arrived from Kircaldy, Scotland.

Initially he set-up shop along Water Street, near present-day Horovitz Park.  Fire claimed the first location and he relocated to Pitt St., where his store was once again consumed by fire.  He advertised the second location in the April 15th edition of the “The Freeholder.”

Sign of the Tin Pail – Opened Out Again, John Hunter Begs to inform his friends and supporters that he has opened in a premises opposite Mr. Cline’s store.  Where will be found a large assortment of TINWARE at moderate prices!  Wholesale and retail.  Eave troughing made & fixed.  Country Produce Rags and old Copper and Brass taken in exchange for goods.

This store was also destroyed by fire, leading the copywriter’s for the 1901 “Freeholder” souvenir to relate Hunter “…with the dogged perseverance for which the Scotchman is noted…stuck to the business, and re opened in a short time in the old barracks on the site of the present Balmoral Hotel (King George), where he remained until 1867, when he built a new stand on Pitt St., “four doors south of Town Hall.”

His son, John G. trained for the trade and after a time in the U.S. took over from his father.  The business operated until ca. 1919.

scan0061                                                   J.G. Hunter’s store, Pitt St., circa 1900.



This trolley car advertising poster was one of the 20 found under the floor of the Hodge House, and dates circa 1906.


scan0054                 R. Milton Pitts                                              Stanley E. Pitts, 1901.

scan0055                                             Interior of the store, 1901.


A crooked photocopy of a 1905 ad., it does not seem that the business lasted many more years after this.

These are just a few of the photographs and artifacts from historic Cornwall available for research and viewing at the Cornwall Community Museum/Archives.


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