Cornwall Community Hall
The first community hall in Cornwall was built in 1897. It is said to have been located on the Ferry Road close to the old cheese factory. In 1915 it was moved to the end of the Cornwall Road.1 In today’s context it would have stood where the Cornwall Dental Clinic now sits. The hall stood on that spot until it was disassembled in 1967.2 It was sold and moved to Argyle shore where it is believed to have been turned into a private cottage.
Photo (c. late 1950's) Courtesy of Arthur Howard
The Cornwall community hall was cared for and operated by the Women’s Institute. It had a stage and a sloped floor. Many theatrical plays took place at the hall. Every year several members of the community would put on a play and every so often travel to surrounding community halls to perform. The most popular event that took place at the hall was the annual school Christmas concert. Each resident we have spoken with recounted memories of walking up to the town hall from the school to practice the Christmas concert. The whole community would come out to the concert which was held a few days before Christmas. The highlight of the Christmas concert for the children would be the grand entrance of Santa Claus at the end of the performance. He was also known to hand out gifts to all the children.
Other activities that took place at the community hall included summer socials, card parties, concerts, suppers/dinners, dances and festivals. The most popular activity may very well have been the community plays that were put on by members of the community almost every year. Various groups such as the Women’s Institute or the Cornwall United Church would make much use of the hall. The hall, the United Church and the general store were all located in the same area and seemed to be the social centre of the village.
In 1967 the hall was sold and moved to Argyle shore. An unpublished history paper written by Mrs. E. Marjorie Howard states that, “The postal division has purchased the land on which Cornwall Hall is at present situated for the purpose of erecting a new Post Office on this site. During the coming months, the Post Office will be removed from Gass’ Store to the new building and the Cornwall Hall will be moved to a new location. (1967).”3
Photo (c. 1979) Courtesy of Ginny Grant
Soon after Cornwall lost its hall a group of men from the community decided to form a Lions Club. One of the primary reasons for the formation of the Club was because the group wanted a community hall.4 The Cornwall Lions Club was organized on January 22, 1968 with twenty original charter members.5 Within the next year the Lions Club had purchased land from Hector and Ethel Scott to construct the Lions Hall.6 The Club began renting out the new space to various different groups throughout the community, and became the unofficial community hall. Ten years later, in 1978 the Lions Club Hall was sold to the Village of Cornwall. The Village began renovations right away, which included a specific room for the Lions Club to meet, as well as a new kitchen. Plans for the addition of a curling rink were also considered.7 The Cornwall Curling Club was constructed in 1981 and was attached to the hall. The open house took place on New Year’s Day, 1982.8
The new hall became known as the Civic Center and hosted a great number of groups and associations over the years. Groups like the Girl Guides, the Lions Club, and a kindergarten made use of the facilities, and events like dances, fundraisers, receptions, and concerts were also held at the club. In 1996, the Civic Centre saw further renovations with the addition of office space for administration of the newly formed Town of Cornwall. There was even space allotted to the RCMP for a community office.9
Photo Taken Spring 2011
Shortly after the turn of the millennium, ideas began circulating about the possibility of adding another facility with more space to accommodate the needs of the growing community. To say the least, this idea was met with strong hesitation and objection from the members of the community. The residents of Cornwall felt that a new facility was not needed and were fearful of tax increases. Over the period of about two years, architectural plans were changed, costs were decreased, and the project was even put on hold. In the end the town went ahead with the construction of a new town hall. It is located adjacent to the APM Center on Lowther Drive and was officially opened November 29, 2006.
Cornwall Town Hall
The modern town hall includes administration offices, council chambers and meeting rooms, a CAP site, and the Cornwall Public Library. Although a new town hall was built, the Cornwall Civic Center was still very much used. Several different clubs made use of the facility and the space was also available for rental. The lower level of the Civic Center was home to the Cornwall Curling Club. The Cornwall Civic Centre was demolished on June 7, 2011. A new Civic Centre is currently under construction and is expected to be completed for the upcoming curling season this fall.
|Demolition of the Cornwall Civic Centre June 7, 2011||Demolition of the Cornwall Civic Centre June 9, 2011|
|Construction of the new Civic Centre - Photo taken August 25, 2011||Construction of the new Civic Centre - Photo taken September 27, 2011|