Posted by: Cornwall Community Museum | August 17, 2016

Sones Jeweller (1939-1959)

scan0088John (Jack) James Sones, Sr, born May 30 1906, was a native Hamiltonian, who came to Cornwall in 1939 and purchased Atkinson Bros. Jewellers (ca. 1927-1939) at 167 Pitt Street, where he continued the business in his own name. Atkinson Bros Jewellers succeeded L.E. Bailey Co.

Sones et alThis street scape includes a view of Sones south of Dovers.

He and his wife Emma (Shirley) raised two sons, John James, Jr. and Gordon, both of whom were active in the business at one time or another. Gordon was also a broadcaster and an accomplished saxophonist.

The elder Sones was a respected member of the community who served as the EODA Zone 3 (SD&G) Chairman as well as President of several trade organizations and service clubs: Eastern Ontario Associated Boards of Trade 1957 (it became the Eastern Ontario Development Association), Retail Merchants Association of Greater Cornwall, Cornwall Board of Trade and the Kinsmen Club.and an accomplished saxophonist.


In 1957 Sones died at age 51 after a lengthy illness. Mayor L. G Lavigne (1957-60) said of Sones that he was: “one of the most public-spirited citizens this city has had in many years.”



On May 7 of 1959, while having supper at a nearby eatery after store closing, John Jr. was summoned back to the store, which was on fire; he discovered that the store had also been robbed.

167 pitt_sones_ fire_boarded 1_wmA window sign in a post-fire photo indicates that the store had opened a temporary office over Castle’s restaurant at 21 Second Street East. Ultimately the decision was made not to resume the business. Gordon’s family moved to St. Catharine’s, while John Jr’s relocated to the Brockville area.

167 pitt_sones_int 2_table_wmThe two merchandise display tables visible here have survived and were restored; one of them was donated to the SD&G Historical Society in 2018.

Company ads as recent as April of 1959 have been located. In August of 1959, The Jewel Box, located nearby at 264 Pitt, ran newspaper ads thanking Sones for allowing them to continue their White Elephant Sales. October 8 of 1959 brought the grand opening of Smolkin’s, which had taken over the former Sones location. Until then, Smolkin’s had operated at their 74 Pitt at 1st Street location for more than 25 years. The adjacent smoke and water-damaged store, Vanity, held a grand-re-opening on October 16.

This is an example of the commercial history stored in the SD&G Historical Society Archives at your Cornwall Community Museum.

And, oh yes – they are available for use and viewing to the public!

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