MAC'S MUSINGS: Cornwall quickly becoming retirement hotspot

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Claude McIntosh

Nobody is talking about installing turnstiles at the city entrances, but Cornwall is becoming an attractive retirement refuge for Baby Boomers living among the hoards of humanity in places like the Big Smoke (aka Toronto).

We are becoming Elliot Lake East.

There has been a noticeable influx of retirees, some of whom are returning to where they grew up and those who just figure this would be a good place to adopt. Of course, the cleansing of our air is a big factor.

When he served in the Canadian military as a lieutenant colonel, Ed Allard had no connection to Cornwall, but this is where he decided to settle. Geography (easy drive to Ottawa and Montreal), size (not too small, not too big) and bilingual climate influenced his decision, something he has not regretted.

Lionel "Red" Carriere came home after retiring from the civil service in 2004. The son of a former Cornwall fire chief, Lou Carriere, he purchased a "Cotton Mill" condo and has no regrets about returning to his roots. He is pleasantly surprised with the way the city is going about re-inventing itself in the wake of the collapse of its manufacturing sector.

Some people scoff at the idea of Cornwall re-inventing itself as a retirement community, but the fact is most of the retirees moving here have pensions that are higher than the average Cornwall household income, and some bring backgrounds that can enhance our quality of life.

One of the big draws is Cornwall's relatively cheap property prices.

A pretty good home can be purchased for under $200,000. In many places, that won't buy a 50-by-100 foot lot.

A friend who lives in Toronto and is nearing retirement visited last fall. He was surprised to see what $300,000 (he was thinking condo) can purchase.

His home in the High Park area, a 1930s style, stately two-storey brick house with a shared driveway and postage stamp backyard, could easily fetch $1 million.

He likes the slower pace and proximity to Montreal and Ottawa, along with the Adirondacks (Lake Placid) just 90 minutes away.

Ten years ago when my son left Toronto Metro Police for Cornwall Police Service, his staff sergeant wanted to know why he would want to join a small-town force.

He explained that he wouldn't have to drive an hour to work (then spend 10 hours in a cruiser) and could buy a pretty good three-bedroom bungalow (at the time) for $140,000.

The staff sergeant was shocked.

"Hell, in Cornwall you could work at McDonalds and buy a house."

JUST WUNDERING Why did Japanese kamikaze pilots wear helmets and protective goggles? ... Why do airlines call a near hit a near miss?

TRIVIA ANSWER As reader Ray Leduc pointed out, the Beach Furniture factory was at Ninth and Sydney streets, now the Tudor Place plaza. The factory started out in 1903 as the Cornwall Furniture Company and was taken over by Charles A. Beach in 1908. In 1988 the building was torn down.

TRIVIA This tire and brake shop operated at Water and Sydney streets for almost 60 years. Two sons took it over from the father. Bonus points if you can name them.

HERE & THERE The west-end Combustion Engineering property has been sold. With access to Lake St. Lawrence, it would make for a great condo development. ... In response to the Russians messing with the Ukraine, the Canadian government has tossed out a handful of Ruskie diplomats. Give Don Cherry the run of the country for a couple of days and Russian hockey players would be given the heave-ho, too.

SPORTS STUFF For any other Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner, Wayne MacDonald (football) would have logged the most air miles to attend. He lives in Briitish Columbia. But he took second place for Saturday's dinner. The longest haul belonged to Marc Crawford. The former National Hockey League coach left Zurich, Switzerland early Saturday morning. After landing in Montreal he drove to Cornwall. He returned to Switzerland, where he is a coaching hockey, on Sunday. ... Brian Tardiff (builder) served up one of the most emotional speeches ever given at a Hall induction dinner. The tireless volunteer was recently diagnosed with ALS. "I'm taking it one day and a time," said Tardiff while waiting for the post-dinner group photo. ... Crawford praised Doug Carpenter, his junior hockey coach, calling him the best coach he ever had. ... Neil Gallinger (softball) came up with a pretty good reason why boys' minor softball numbers have fallen. He rattled off a long list of former softball sweats who had girls, including himself. ... Kudos to dinner chair Dave Murphy for playing a key role in putting it all together.

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR When kids collected and traded marbles (allies) and played things called hop-scotch, hide and seek, red rover, tag, red light/green light, hop scotch and kick the can. ... A kid (usually with red hair and freckles) carried his pet frog/toad around in a pant pocket. ... When a bunch of neighbourhood kids spent a Saturday morning building a backyard tree house or building a soap box. ... The Dollard (Mattice) Park soap box derby run by Art Allaire. The 1950 champions included Jean Louis Lebrun (12-year-old division), Fern Lebrun (13-year-old division). The Depratto brothers were runners-up.

THIS'N'THAT No surprise that since the low level south span of the Seaway International Bridge opened in January, passenger vehicle traffic has been on the upswing. Last count shows an 8.7% increase. The low-level crossing and improved CBSA checkpoint have slashed lengthy wait times which discouraged folks from using the bridge. On the downside is the fact this makes it easier for cross-border shoppers. ... Big city council delegation attended the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) convention in London this week. Tell me, is this really worth the cost or is it just a paid vacation? Would the city and taxpayers be worse off if nobody went?

HERE AND THERE Finally! Four months after what was labelled a three-week project, the two-block stretch of York Street between Second and Water has been finished. ... Three of the best educators to serve this community - Rosaire Leger, Gilles Metivier and Gerry Samson (not to be confused with the councillor of same name). If Metivier had secured the Liberal nomination (he lost to John Cleary), there was a good chance that Premier David Peterson would have named him education minister. As I've joked ad nauseam, he is the best education minister we never had.

Organizations: Big Smoke, Adirondacks, Toronto Metro Police Cornwall Police Service Cornwall Furniture Company Combustion Engineering National Hockey League Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Geographic location: Cornwall, Montreal, Toronto Ottawa Sydney High Park Lake Placid Switzerland Ukraine Briitish Columbia Zurich London York Street

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