By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Locked underneath some of the greatest stories ever told are scattered remnants of a 1920s Cornwall theatre that remained secret – until now.
The Cornwall Public Library showcased its historical side to hundreds of people during the annual province-wide Doors Open series. A total of 21 locations in Cornwall and S,D&G showed off their heritage, by opening up previously closed areas to the public.
Heritage Cornwall member Chris Granger gave a one-on-one tour with Seaway News at the library, in a reinforced underground room.
“The basement in the Cornwall Public Library has been commonly known as a bomb shelter, but that’s a myth,” said Granger.
He pointed out the fact that the windows in the large room indicated that it was a supplement to the main nuclear fallout bunker, known as the Diefenbunker.
The rumoured-bomb shelter, actually a basement emergency central location unit, was built for politicians and intended as a communication centre during the Cold War.
Inside, pieces of Cornwall’s Capitol Theatre are scattered on the floor. Granger considers the historical pieces to be a significant part of the city’s roots.
“The history of the theatre itself is interesting, but even more so is what happened to it afterwards,” said Granger.
The Doors Open tour guide said that after the demolition of the Capitol, in 1990, pieces were hidden away for decades. Until a former city politician decided to keep what fragments of the Capitol remained in safe storage.
Cornwall Public Library head of adult services Sonja Irving was extremely pleased at the two-day event’s massive turnout. During the library’s instalment of the ‘Cornwall and the Counties Doors Open’ exhibition, upwards of 500 visitors took a peak into the area’s past.
“The response was overwhelming,” said Irving.
To find out more about the history of Cornwall and the counties, visit the Cornwall and Seaway Valley Tourism office here.