Donated artifacts tell new stories in local history

Donated artifacts tell new stories in local history
Cornwall Community Museum curator Ian Bowering launched a new historic collection of photos and stories in the Cornwall Scrapbook.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The Cornwall Community Museum is breathing new life into its local history collection thanks to thousands of donated items previously collecting dust.

This year, a whopping 41 donors have given more than 2,000 artifacts, documents, photographs and postcards to the Cornwall Community Museum in the Wood House.

The most historically significant was an unpublished manuscript of the history of Canadian Cottons Ltd., who operated the Canada, Dundas, Stormont and Glengarry Mills to form this new company from 1892 until the mills closed in 1959.

The unnamed manuscript was donated by Ronald Purcell, the son of the firm’s last General Merchandising Manager, H.E. Purcell.

“This was a priceless addition to our archives,” said Curator Ian Bowering.

Along with the manuscript, Purcell donated annual reports, photographs and unused sample blankets.

The estate of Jean Barton gave the museum the World War II Royal Canadian Engineers uniform worn by her late husband Howard Burton, an employee at Courtaulds, along with numerous photographs and histories.

Ron Begg donated over 600 World War I era postcards, and trophies, ribbons and awards relating to the area’s first Ayrshire farm in Moose Creek, and James Begg’s day book as Justice of the Peace for Roxborough Township, for 1866.

“This is the first one of these books I have ever seen,” said Bowering. “It provides a full account of the life and petty crime in mid 19th century eastern Ontario. It is simply invaluable.”

Monkland’s Sandra Bowness gave the museum a quilt circa 1910.

Along with many other interesting items, numerous people have also given money towards the Irish Memorial Monument, which now raised over $9,000 and is nearing its final goal.

The oddest donation though was a fragment of the sign from the Colossus Restaurant at the corner of Pitt and Second Streets, salvaged by a concerned citizen from a dumpster and given to the museum for safe keeping for posterity.

“Just when you begin to think that your local history collection of books and manuscripts is nearing completion, you find out you are very wrong,” he said.

For more information, e-mail or call (613) 936-0842 or visit

– Story provided by the Cornwall Community Museum (60 Water Street West).

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