Hundreds of people on May 14, 1957 lined Second and Amelia streets from McArthur Brothers and MacNeil Funeral home to the Jewish Synagogue to say farewell to Cornwall’s longest serving mayor.
It was as close to a civic funeral as the city has ever had.
Aaron Horovitz, the Romanian refugee first elected mayor in 1930, one of the first Jewish mayors in Canada, served a total of 18 years over a 26-year period. He lost just one election, in 1956, to former Cornwall Township reeve Emile Menard It was the first election held after the one-square-mile city expanded into parts of Cornwall Township to become a 32-square -mile community.
Some say Horovitz, who wore his pride in his adopted city (he came to Cornwall in 1911), as they say, on his suit sleeve, died of a broken heart. In a twisted piece of tragedy, Menard died on Aug. 12 in a fall in his home. Ten days later Ald. Archie Lavigne became Cornwall’s third mayor in nine months.
Horovitz was a self-made millionaire – his money made in the clothing manufacturing business – who never flaunted his wealth, save for a Cadillac and splendid home with its red-tiled roof on Second Street next to the Memorial Park cenotaph. He was a kind man with a perpetual smile.
If you were a kid growing up in Cornwall during the 1950s you will remember the Aaron Horovitz Children’s Picnic at Central Park with free pop and ice cream … and prizes that included a draw for two bicycles – boy and girl.
When it came to promoting Cornwall, no mayor before or after Horovitz did it the way the little mayor did.
In 1954, Horovitz pushed for Cornwall to be represented at the Miss Canada Pageant. The city received coast-to-coast publicity when the Cornwall entry, Barbara Markham, was crowned Miss Canada.
BACK IN 1957 – A family of seven was homeless after fire destroyed a Cumberland Street basement apartment. Branch 297 of the Royal Canadian Legion was helping the family find new housing and offered to pay the first month’s rent. … Dr. Zbigniew Gorecki, a native of Poland, was named superintendent of the St. Lawrence Sanitorium (now the Islamic Institute) in Glen Walter. He was a much-respected thoracic surgeon. But his life unraveled and in April 1973 he was sentenced to life in prison for shooting to death his estranged wife. They were involved in a child custody battle. … City council protested the decision to dismantle the New York Central rail line between Ottawa and Cornwall (the station was on Second Street West just east of Hoople Avenue). The city’s industrial commission said using a more time-consuming Canadian Pacific line to connect Cornwall would drive up freight shipping costs. … How bad was the stray dog problem in Cornwall? City police had to assign two officers to deal with a long list of complaints of dogs running loose. Chief Allan Clarke said the problem was rooted in the annexation of large parts of mostly rural Cornwall Township. Owners of dogs rounded up and sent to the local animal shelter (run by a chap called Skinny) were required to pay a fine before the animals could be released. If unclaimed within four days, the animals were dispatched to dog heaven. … Glengarry Gardens in Alexandria was packed to the rafters for a June federal election rally. The crowd count was put at 5,000, well over the arena’s capacity. The three Glengarry-Prescott riding candidates speaking at the rally were Osie Villeneuve (Progressive Conservative), Raymond Bruneau (Liberal incumbent) and Rene Bertrand (listed as an “unofficial” Liberal candidate). … Clayton Sayyeau, night watchman at Howard Smith Paper Mill, was awarded the $1,000 reward posted for information on the disappearance of Maxville reeve William MacEwan. While patrolling the canal bank at the rear of the mill, Sayyeau spotted the roof of a car. He called police who found the missing man’s body in the car which had been lodged under the canal ice. The driver had gone missing eight weeks earlier. The canal water had been lowered for spring maintenance. … Deadline for purchase of bicycle licences (50 cents) was May 31. Of the estimated 5,000 two-wheelers in the city, only 1,700 had been registered. … The 35,000 square foot Ives Bedding plant sitting on three acres was put up for sale. It closed in 1955. It was Canada’s oldest bed manufacturer. … Cornwall Motor Sales re-opened its used car lot at 623 Pitt St. … Cornwall native Ed Rowe of Clarkson College Golden Knights hockey team was named all-American. He was the fifth highest scorer in the eastern conference. (Rowe later became an executive with General Electric in Peterborough. He spent 24 years with the Peterborough Petes junior hockey organization, serving as president and governor. He died in June 2010. He was inducted into the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame and Clarkson Hall of Fame). … The city turned the former township administration building on St. Felix Street into a sub-fire station. The building also included the social services department headed by the no-nonsense Frances Flanigan. In an interview she said, “People think that we only look after the lazy guy who won’t work. That’s only part of what we do.” … The Church of Good Shepherd’s 75-year-old bell tower was torn down. Rotted timber beams made it unsafe.
THIS AND THAT Note to last October’s municipal election candidate Gerry Samson: might be time to remove campaign sign dangling on utility pole at traffic circle. … New York City has 20,000 municipal vacancies. Almost half are in child support services.
TRIVIA This Cornwall landmark built in the late 1800s at a cost of $45,000, was torn down in 1955 to make way for a more “modern” building.
TRIVIA ANSWER In the 1971 municipal election, Ed Lumley upset incumbent Nick Kaneb. Third person on the ballot was Roy Brunet, a real estate broker and former alderman.
QUOTED “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.” – Ellen Glasgow