Posted by: Manager / Associate Curator | February 17, 2020

McGuire Fuels: A Cornwall Institution for 76 Years

William Clarence McGuire (1871-1950), was one of ten siblings born to John Alfred McGuire (1843-1916) and Anne Bobier (1847-1928) in Bristol, QC. The others were John, Alfred, Herbert, Victor, Milton, Charles, Martha, Buddie and Verna.

Their father, John Alfred, was a tanner in Bristol, QC. He was known as proprietor of the Shawville Russell House hotel, and at an early point in his life, a champion beard grower.

W.C. McGuire graduated from McGill University in 1893 as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and relocated to Cornwall in 1895.

In 1900 he married Isabella McLennan (1872-1925) and together they raised seven children, John Alfred (1901-1986), Clarence Herbert (1903-1999), Anna Isabella/Isobel (1905-1980), Pearl Gladys (1907-1980), Mildred Verna (1909-1995), Norman/Nick McLennan (1911-1976) and Charles Ernest (1912-1996).

In 1906 the family lived at this Second Street East Victorian style home.

Later the family lived in a large brick house at 219 Amelia Street. That house is also remembered for operating as Caron’s Tourist Home. Today the house no longer stands, the property now part of the parking lot for the Knights of Columbus Hall to the south.

His eldest son, Dr. John McGuire, was a well-known Cornwall physician; his 215 Sydney Street house is now home to Warner Insurance.

Pictured above is Dr. W.C. McGuire with George Green.

In addition to practicing veterinary medicine, in 1900 Dr. W.C. founded W.C. McGuire handling coal and wood, which later became W.C. McGuire & Sons and finally McGuire Fuels Ltd. The yard and business office were located at 30 First St. E.

Crowe’s Confectionery and Crowe’s Rooming House were to their east (1978 photo).

The confectionery had previously been home to Alex’s Groceteria then Wattie’s Groceteria.

H.D. Atkinson’s large complex was to their west at 22.

In 1912, four silos were built on the McGuire property to store and screen anthracite coal and to speed handling and loading. These silos were considered a big step forward in the handling of coal and were used as a model for building similar facilities in other centres.

1918This was McGuire’s delivery fleet in 1918.Note the change in business name above.

32 1st St E_McGuire Bros Sporting Goods_1936Prior to joining their father in the coal business, in 1936 youngest sons Nick and Charles opened McGuire Bros. Sporting Goods at 32 First Street East, close to the new Water Street arena which replaced the burned-out Victoria Rink.

The retired veterinarian died in Lakehurst, Ontario in 1950 while on a ten-day vacation in the area. He had served on the Town Council and Public School Board and was a milk and food inspector for 25 years. McGuire was a member of the Cornwall Masonic Lodge, the Cornwall Preceptory Knights Templar, Royal Arch Masons and local Odd Fellows Lodge.

Club Champs_1940.Additionally, he was involved in reorganizing the Cornwall Curling Club. Pictured are the 1940 Champions – Top left, James Dawson Lead; top right, Charles Rodger, Skip; bottom left, A.W. Jackson, second, bottom right, Dr. W.C. McGuire, Vice skip.

Curling Club_11 Amelia_1990When the new Amelia Street club, which was built in 1948, was officially opened in February of 1949, W.C McGuire was present along with club president Drummond Giles, J.G. Sutherland, J.M. Timberlake, W.A. Dingwall, H. Meadd, Mayor Aaron Horovitz, Charles E. Armstrong, John L. MacDonald M.P.P. Stormont and William Smart of Montreal.

W.C. McGuire funeral detailsAround the time of W.C.’s funeral, patrons visiting the shop were met with this notice.

Following their father’s death, Nick and Charles McGuire continued to operate W.C. McGuire & Sons.

early constn phase of Powerhouse - view from the Maple Grove lookout CRIn following years, the business expanded into the handling of bituminous coal, and later into the delivery of heating oil. During the navigation season, coal was delivered by canal ships.

Amos Coal dock building and scale CRtA 1951 contract between the C.L. Amos Coal Company of Montreal and Nick and Charles, operating as W.C. McGuire & Sons, has them maintaining and operating a coal dock and yard on the Cornwall Canal near Maple Grove, west of the City of Cornwall. This was described as being located on property forming part of Lot 22 in the First Concession of Cornwall Township. The property featured 530′ of water frontage, a depth of 500′ and storage capacity of 100,000 tons of bituminous coal for industrial and commercial use.

Cities Svc_Milton Matheson home moved to LSThe original dock and depot were on Lot 22 along the Cornwall Canal near Maple Grove. Milton Matheson’s Cities Service was to north. The Matheson house, west of the service station, was re-located to Long Sault in anticipation of the 1958 St. Lawrence Seaway & Power Project Inundation.

St. Lawrence Power Project Plan(1)Due to the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Power Project, the coal dock was temporarily relocated to just west of the Stormont Diversion Canal opposite Seymour Avenue.Stormont Mill_scan0069 FXThe Diversion Canal and former Power Plant, west of the Stormont cotton mill, are visible along the top of the photo.

St. Lawrence Power Project Plan(2)Ultimately the dock was further relocated to a site on the north bank of the canal just west of Riverdale, near the current soccer fields – a matter of some controversy at the time.

00 block of Pitt thru Sydney_pre-Cwl Sq_labCoal was delivered to their First Street East location via the Street Railway tracks, the latter’s depot located directly south.


Charles McGuireA 1958 contract outlined the terms under which Charles bought out his bother Nick’s share of the business, continuing to operate it as McGuire Fuels Ltd..

February 1950With the shift from coal to oil, the three-storey coal bins/silo would disappear ca. 1965.Aerial_1966-07_McGuire FuelsThis July 1966 Marcel Quenneville aerial illustrates McGuire’s reduced footprint. The Street Railway had taken over the former silo area as a fueling station.

62 Pitt_Hermiston and Comrie beside Snetsinger Block_WLG Snetsinger_early 1900s_LVHS276_sharpened CRFrom 1969-1978 the business relocated to 62 Pitt Street at the location of the former Hermiston and Comrie plumber storefront pictured here.

Seeley Outdoor Advertising Ltd took over the 30-32 First Street East location. The property has since been absorbed by the parking garage for the Cornwall Square shopping centre.

66_68_70_72_74 Pitt_Snetsinger Block_IOOF 1972-11-02 Fire_Exterior_demo_2017-28.19_wmIn the 1972 photograph below, McGuire Fuels Ltd. can be seen to the south of the Snetsinger Building (a parking lot today). The busy business block was demolished after a fire that year.

1975 McGuire Fuels coll. Peter McGuire, Ottawa

62 Pitt_McGuire Fuels Ltd_1978 City Directory-32In 1976 Charles signed a contract, which closed on December 3, to sell McGuire Fuels to Golden Eagle Canada Limited, agreeing to stay on to manage the business for at least one year following September 1st.

McGuire Fuels operated as a family-owned Cornwall business for 76 years and at least one additional year under new ownership.

58-62 Pitt has since been home to a series of stores and pubs. Ada’s Place opened in June of 1987, followed by Mexicali Rosa’s, Serrano Restaurant & Pizzeria, Bo Jangles Sports Bar & Grill, Deke & Squeek’s Bar and now Lounge 58 Bar & Grill.

We appreciate the considerable contributions of Jennifer McKendry (niece of Charles McGuire) and Peter McGuire (son of Charles). Jennifer is an architectural historian living in the Kingston area. Jennifer and her mother Ruth McLeod McKendry authored ‘Hold Fast: The Story of William & Catherine McLeod and their Descendants, Glengarry County’. Peter and his family live in Ottawa, still summer vacationing on Hamilton’s Island.

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