Cornwall’s Evolving Downtown 

Cornwall’s Evolving Downtown 

An inevitable aspect of life is that of change and our community’s downtown is no exception. 

Some changes are necessitated by voids created by fire and structural weakness that pose safety risks. The former Knox-St. Paul’s Church on 2nd St. E. is an example of the latter. The building was deemed unstable, so the congregation sought out an existing building across town, making way for demolition and the erection of condos on that site. 

Another approach is to stabilize and renew existing structures. We find several such examples in the vicinity of the 100 block of Pitt and Sydney Streets. The former hotel at 33 1st St. E. is an incredible illustration of a building written off by some, yet seemingly soon to open with a new purpose. Several other buildings have been updated and put back in use, sometimes pealing back a facade to glimpse their former glory, such as 101-105 Pitt. Such efforts are generally considered preferable because the approach allows the heritage aspect to be kept somewhat intact while minimizing the impact to the environment. 

 Yet another approach is to demolish to build a larger structure. In recent weeks the community has been reacting to the demolition of two adjacent buildings and reportedly a third adjacent building will likewise meet its demise.  

The yet-to-be-demolished building at 249 Pitt was built in 1910 and expanded in 1920. Until 1978, it served as the offices of Bell Canada. From 1987 to 1999, Carl McLaughlin operated KCK Enterprises there. It bears witness as an example of Spanish-Colonial architecture, a type that is uncommon in our city. After ownership passed through various companies, in 2013 1831140 Ontario Inc. transferred the property to Eric Charron. 

To its immediate south at 243-247 Pitt, stood a once proud structure. The story goes back to the Duffy family and its candy store which operated their original store there between 1887 and 1919, when struck by fire. The business temporarily relocated while the structure was re-built between 1919 and 1923, when the store and family resumed functioning at this site until 1946. Subsequent occupants included Lester’s ladies’ ready to wear, The Steak Pitt, Casa Mia Restaurant and Pizzeria, Murray’s Credit Jewellers, Twin-Fair Ladies’ Wear, Henry’s Men’s Shop, Andre’s Men’s Wear, Martin’s Ladies’ Wear Ltd, and Jay-Gee Shoes/The Travel Shop until 2009 when Edna Assaly sold the property to Giovanna Galletto and Eric Charron. The building has since remained largely vacant except for a brief, but noticeable stint when occupied by Street Chic in 2017.  

Continuing further south, the charming 1924 Kavanagh building at 239-241 Pitt was first home to Allan Kavanagh’s Meat Market and later Gerald’s Provision Market, Ran-Gal Photos, a series of beauty salons and owner residences above, Boutique Migi, It’s Just Beautiful Natural Foods, Gemini Café and until May of this year, Total Cyclery. The tenant announced that the new owners gave notice to vacate the premises so that the three buildings could be demolished and replaced by a larger structure. 

 A drawing of the proposed new structure is available on the Choose Cornwall website as part of the Year in Review article. 

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