Posted by: Media Manager | April 13, 2016

Our Citizens of Tomorrow (O.C.O.T.) Boys’ Club

OCOT Carnival preparation with Joe St Denis, Eleanor Lawn (Riverdale Rep) and Alicia Page (Dover Heights Rep)

O.C.O.T. Carnival preparation with Joe St Denis, Eleanor Lawn (Riverdale Rep) and Alicia Page (Dover Heights Rep)

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.

Roger Contant, Bett Zabizewski, Edgar Theoret, Charles Andrews, Gail Adams, Henry McLaren

Roger Contant, Bett Zabizewski, Edgar Theoret, Charles Andrews, Gail Adams, Henry McLaren

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.

Jimmie Booth Ronnie McKeegan boxing

Jimmie Booth and Ronnie McKeegan boxing

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.

OCOT heading to Lancaster Kiwanis Camp in July, 1949

O.C.O.T. heading to Lancaster Kiwanis Camp in July, 1949

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.

Summer camp life skills - cooking

Summer camp life skills – cooking

Displaying their crafts at summer camp

Displaying their crafts at summer camp

O.C.O.T. Ice Carnival Feb 17, 1950.  In the photo are Nancy Peters, Beverly Riviere, Sharon Barry, Louisette Samson, Marjorie Garlough and Marion MacDonald.

O.C.O.T. Ice Carnival Feb 17, 1950. In the photo are Nancy Peters, Beverly Riviere, Sharon Barry, Louisette Samson, Marjorie Garlough and Marion MacDonald.

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.

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Responses

  1. Joe was such a great man. He did so much for the community. Sharron Barry was my friend from kindergarten, so many memories. Thanks for posting. Great to see names.

  2. […] and the Joe St. Denis Field, both at the Cornwall Athletic Grounds. 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. […]


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