Nav Centre was ace card in university bid

by Claude McIntosh
Nav Centre was ace card in university bid

One of the most expensive – and largest – real estate transactions in city history has all but pushed the decades old on-again, off-again drive to establish a bona fide university campus in Cornwall over the cliff.

The Nav Centre, with all its pro-university campus amenities, was a huge carrot at the end of the university campus stick.

The soon-to-become new owner, Devcore Group of Gatineau, hasn’t gone into detail on how the sprawling property overlooking the St. Lawrence River will be developed over the next few years, but high-end housing, especially condos, perhaps a gated community, would be a perfect fit for the vast splendid piece of real estate. The potential for the 560-room building with dozens of meetings rooms is immense.

Opened in 1978 (Public Works Minister Jean Chretien cut the ribbon) as the Transport Canada Training Institute, the facility came in with an overbudget price tag of around $35 million. It would not be outrageous to suggest that the new owners paid at least four time that amount.

The sale, to be finalized on June 30, gives Devcore an even bigger foot print in the local housing market. It currently has almost 500 rental units in the city, including the Brookdale Arms. It is the city’s biggest landlord.

Over the years, the city has talked to the University of Ottawa and Carleton University about establishing a satellite campus in the city. More recently, a sizeable investment was made in hiring a consultant to open the door but neither Carleton nor Ottawa U expressed interest in a degree-granting campus in the city.

Nav Canada was interested in  the facility being re-invented as a university campus.

When the province put the wheels in motion to set up a French-language university, there was hope that Cornwall would be looked at. Instead, it was given to voter rich Toronto.


THIS AND THAT:  Donald Trump has done wonders for the book publishing biz. I’m on my sixth post-Trump presidency book with at least two in the to-be-read hopper. Only one – Mollie Hemingway’s “Rigged” – is what can be described as kind to the ex-prez. … Best piece of advice I got on my 65th birthday: Don’t waste money buying treated lumber! … Note to Generation Z: As you get older you will discover, as we who are creeping into the geezer division learned, that your parents get smarter as you get older. … Between now and June 2 we will find out how the next government plans to spend money it doesn’t have. … See where my old pal Denis Sabourin (aka Capt. Liberal) is back in another election campaign fray, this time working on the Kirsten Gardner campaign. … Montreal Canadiens might be the most expensive team to finish dead last in the National Hockey League. The club shelled out $81,399,606 million to cover 48 player contracts, some of whom didn’t play with the team. Shea Weber who missed all 82 games got $7.8 million, while Carey Price received $10.8 million to play 298 minutes. (Do the math).

THIS MONTH IN 1934:  An inquest on May 12, 1934 into the death of a New York Central Railway section worker concluded that a plank across the south span of the NYC bridge derailed a railway motor car and threw two employees into the icy St. Lawrence River 40 feet below on Dec. 1, 1933. The rail bridge was being converted to accommodate vehicular traffic. What the inquest couldn’t answer was how the plank got across the rail line. One of the men, Adelard Tessier, drowned. His body was recovered in April along the Cornwall Island shoreline by island resident Mrs. Joe Thompson. Joseph Meillieur survived the icy plunge while a third member of the rail crew, Henry Scott of Newington, suffered fractures to both legs.


A homeless man convicted of assaulting provincial police constable W. H. Kennedy at the CNR station on Ninth Street had his foggy memory refreshed by a judge before being sentenced to two years in the slammer on May 12, 1934.

When asked by the judge if it was his first court appearance, the man said it was just his second time facing charges in court.

Okay,” said the judge, “let me refresh your memory.”

Reading from the man’s rap sheet, the judge rattled off a laundry list of charges, convictions and sentences over the previous 10 years.

Oh ya,” said the man. “Thanks for the reminder. I forgot about those.”

ALSO THIS MONTH IN 1934 – Kinsmen founder H. A. Rogers of Hamilton was guest of the Cornwall Kinsmen Club. … Cornwall native Francis Lefebvre became the third member of Nativity Parish to be ordained a priest. … The Legion track and field meet at the Athletic Grounds attracted several top athletes, including Boston Marathon winner Dave Komenen. At the time, the Grounds featured one of the finest cinder tracks in the province. It was ripped out to make room for the Bob Turner Memorial Centre. … An overflow crowd jammed Nativity Church as 500 children from the parish, each accompanied by a sponsor, were confirmed by the bishop. On hand for the ceremony were 15 ushers. … What could you buy with $800? How about a new Plymouth. … A three-year-old Florida girl with a crippled leg and unable to walk unassisted was walking on her own with no pain several days after underdoing foot manipulation treatment at the world famous Dr. Mahlon Locke clinic in Williamsburg. One magazine called him the man with million dollar thumbs.

TRIVIA ANSWER: In 1884 Irish priest Father J. J. Kelly was dispatched to Cornwall to establish a parish in east Cornwall to be called Nativity to serve a large number of Irish and French Roman Catholics living in the east end. In her history of Cornwall – From Royal Township to Industrial City – Elinor Senior noted that the Irish, Scots and French in the parish came together to help pay for the new church.

TRIVIA: From 1959-1961, this television character – a U.S. army sergeant in charge of a camp motor pool – was played by Phil Silvers.

QUOTED:  “Leadership consists of nothing but taking responsibility for everything that goes wrong and giving your subordinates credit for everything that goes well.” – Gen. Dwight Eisenhower

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