Posted by: Media Manager | April 12, 2016

Cornwall’s YM-YWCA

Prior to 1960, Cornwall’s YMCA and YWCA were two separate organizations.

Cornwall’s first YMCA launched in 1876 and later closed shop. In 1945 a new YMCA was organized and made use of various public facilities.  It opened its very own centre at 15 First Street West the following year.

YMYMCA_15_WMThis YMCA, which became a YW/YWCA, was built at 15 First Street West. The front section, shown above, was the headquarters with a cement foundation. The main floor was a bricked hut purchased from the former Cornwall Basic Army Training Centre #31. The full-sized basement housed the furnace room, a kitchen, dining room, locker room and showers. Besides the offices, the main floor also contained a reading room and committee rooms.

YMYMCA_14_WMThe rear clapboard section,  also a hut from the former Cornwall Basic Army Training Centre #31, had no basement, but stood on cedar piles.   It was the gymnasium and was a popular spot for teen dances. Each of the two buildings were approximately 20′ by 60′ and were joined in an inverted ‘T’ configuration.  Later, for many years the building was used as an Odd Fellows Hall, then as a series of youth drop-in centres – most recently Youth for Christ. Eventually the vacant building was demolished to make way for townhouses.

Mountain Memorial Garden ca 1950 Enh_WMThe YWCA organized in 1937 with Miss Verda Ullman as directress and for 21 years made use of a variety of rented quarters.  Circa 1953, a YWCA operated out of Trinity Church’s Mountain Memorial Hall. That building was destroyed by fire in 1962. Beek Lindsay House seniors’ apartments are at that location today.

YWCA 407 4th E Cr_WMIn 1954 the YWCA purchased an old house at 407 Fourth Street East to use as its headquarters.

YMYMCA_17_WMIn 1960 a citizens’ group raised funds for a new joint YM-YWCA facility. Cornwall’s most recent YM-YWCA was constructed at 412 Fifth Street East, diagonally behind the former Fourth Street East YWCA.

YMYMCA_18_WMThe facility was officially opened on September 12, 1962. The above photo was taken on July 6, 1964. Verda Ullman, Cornwall’s YWCA foundress, had made a visit to the City. Pictured are Sigi Ortmayr, then Executive Director, Mrs. M.O. Good, Ullman, and Mayor Nick Kaneb.

Y 5th ST EWhen the “Y” found it difficult to make ends meet, the Kinsmen Club got involved and turned it over to the City.

2010_20_4
On October 17, 1970, the University of Ottawa opened an extension office inside the Kinsmen Centre.
Y_0008 The library, pictured above,  housed 2,500 books. Other rooms included two offices, two seminar study rooms, and a lounge. The University first began offering courses in Cornwall in 1955 and the Cornwall Association for University Extension was formed in December of 1967.

Condos_2017-07

When the 100 Water Street East Aquatic Centre opened in September of 2005, the Kinsmen Centre was no longer cost-effective. In 2009, rather than demolishing the building, the City sold the property to real estate agent Sandy Cameron for a token $1 amount for the subsequent redevelopment of the Fifth Street East site into 13 condos with a gym.

These photos and many others are available from the SD&G Historical Society Archives located at the Cornwall Community Museum.

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Responses

  1. Very interesting story. My first job out of school in 1972 was for the University of Ottawa Cornwall Campus which was located on the top floor at the YMCA. I worked out of the library…brings back memories to see that photo of the library. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you for sharing that, Colette. Do you have any photos or other memories to share? 🙂


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