In the spring of 1932, a group of civic-minded Cornwallites gathered to address the problem of juvenile delinquency, which had been aggravated by the Great Depression. Soon thereafter, the Cornwall Athletic Commission was formed.
Joe St. Denis, who been been a volunteer until then, was hired to supervise all of the boy’s clubs operating at the various, often inadequate, Cornwall playgrounds, under the umbrella of O.C.O.T.
O.C.O.T’s first clubhouse was a basic shell, but by 1939, St. Denis had sufficiently pulled the community together and a new 60’ by 30’ frame clubhouse on a cement slab was built at the southwest corner of the Marlborough Street Athletic Grounds, beyond the grandstand. At one end of the structure was a band room which doubled as a reading room. The building also offered dressing rooms for skaters, hockey players and tobogganers using the adjacent outdoor facilities.
The clubhouse was intended as a base of operation for boys’ activities which encouraged productive use of leisure time. Boxing, wrestling, and other indoor games were among the activities which made the place a hub of activity every day of the week.
O.C.O.T.’s motto was: “Citizenship, companionship, physical education and tolerance” and kept in mind that: “boys of today are men of tomorrow.” Activities were open to boys of any creed or colour.
Although some trophied athletes were recognized, the main objective was on fostering leadership, responsibility and teamsmanship.
O.C.O.T.’s programs attracted more than 1,000 boys per year.
O.C.O.T. cooperated with its community partners, such as the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis established a popular youth summer camp facility in South Lancaster, which O.C.O.T. frequented for day and weekly camps. Swimming, fishing, wood crafts and cooking were among the camp activities.
The SD&G Historical Society Archives at the Cornwall Community Museum houses a large collection of O.C.O.T. photos, such as those appearing in this post as well as others of trophy presentations, etc.