DANCES WITH WORDS: Let’s give a historical landmark a function

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Nick Wolochatiuk

If you build it, they will come. However, if you tear it down, they won’t come. Cornwall has torn down many of its former landmarks, such as the Capitol Theatre, the massive Courtaulds mill (which was once proposed to become a residential complex), the old Post Office (which stood at the northwest corner of Pitt and Second) and filled in the east end of the Cornwall Canal (between Brookdale and Marlborough). The demolition of the Domtar stacks is on hold.

Can you imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower? It was built for the World’s Fair of 1889, intended as a temporary fixture. Even then, some found it to be an offensive blight on the city’s skyline. Fortunately, it has survived.

The towering bridge that connects the City of Cornwall to Akwesasne’s Cornwall Island no longer functions as a traffic artery. It never did have the 730-foot ocean-going vessels pass under it. We hear the cries to have it torn down.

I would have the central truss arch and its massive concrete piers saved. Function? It’s the city’s landmark. If an elevator were built to bring sightseers to its deck, they could gaze upon the city, the remains of the pre-Seaway Cornwall Canal, the remaining piers of the NYC, the North Channel of the St. Lawrence River, Cornwall Island and the distant Adirondacks.

On the deck, informative plaques would be arrayed along the protective guardrails. Entertaining videos that depict area history, current attractions and coming events could be available at the touch of a button.

What a stupendous vantage point for viewing Canada Day fireworks, the Lift-Off hot air balloons, sunrises and sunsets.

To accent this jewel of a landmark, it would be bathed in changing spotlights of changing colours, varying with the seasons and the holidays being celebrated, like the CN Tower.

Of course, there’s the other option: grind it into anonymous concrete dust and earn a bit of money from its scrap metal value.

Organizations: Capitol Theatre, Post Office, Domtar

Geographic location: Cornwall Island, Pitt, Brookdale Marlborough Paris St. Lawrence River

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