MAC’S MUSINGS: Buckland knows all about the Nazareth Orphanage

Claude McIntosh

Last week’s trivia answer grabbed the attention of veteran public school board trustee Art Buckland. It also pricked his memory.

He was one of the 2,800 boys and girls who, over the years, spent time in the Nazareth Orphanage on the northwest corner of Second and Sydney streets. It was operated by the Sisters of the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph.

The orphanage, once the splendid home built by wealthy businessman Roderick Rory McLennan who made a fortune in railway construction, was destroyed by fire on May 4, 1950. A few years later, the new Federal Building (post office) was constructed on the site. Today it is home to the Cornwall Public Library.

John McMartin, another wealthy resident who made his money in railway construction and gold mines, bought the home from the McLennan family. Years later in 1919, his widow left it to the Sisters to be used as orphanage.

Buckland and his younger sister were placed in the orphanage after his mother went to work in the mustard gas plant during the Second World War. He was eight years old. His father was serving overseas with the Canadian Army.

“My mother worked 10 or 12 hours a day, so there was nobody at home to take care of us,” said Buckland, a retired college professor. “We were placed in the orphanage.”

Buckland and his sister would be sent off to school (neighbouring Central Public) each school day and returned to the orphanage after school.

Boys and girls had separate living quarters. He recalls that all the boys slept in a spacious dorm and ate meals together in a large dining room.

Buckland was the lone Protestant in the dorm and almost from day one was subjected to the chant “Catholics, Catholics ring the bells …. Protestants, Protestants, go to hell.”

“That soon changed to ‘Catholic, Catholics ring the bells. Protestants, Protestants go to hell … except Red,’ ” laughed Buckland.

Circumstances changed at home and so after a few months Art and his sister were reunited with their mother.

While discipline was strict and lifestyle spartan, young Buckland left the orphanage none the worse for wear.

TRIVIA This college opened in 1896 in a Pitt Street building. It operated until 1963. The college had the same principal from start to finish.

IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR The New York Cafe at 129 Pitt St. That’s where the young crowd gathered on Friday nights and rides to Massena were available. Egg rolls went for 25 cents each, a hot chicken sandwich could be had for 70 cens and 25 cents got you a chocolate sunday. … The Sugar Bowl and Dominic Carra’s Shoe Shop. … The A & P Super Market on Pitt Street, between the Bank of Montreal and Smith Hardware. … The Supertest gas station next door to the St. Lawrence House on Montreal Road. … East Side Dairy which offered special day and night service to steamboats. The dairy was owned by R.J. and George M. Brown. … C. & R. Marleau Hardware/Plumbing at 139 Montreal Rd. … James McAteer tailor shop at 4 Second St. E. … Long before Dollarama and The Dollar Store, there was The Federal 5-10-15 cent Store. … Ray and Hubert Miron’s store at Marlborough and Water streets where you could buy a newspaper or play a game of billiards.

HERE & THERE When somebody says about a local politician “But he (she) means well” or “but his (her) heart is in the right place,” I get nervous. … Just a thought, but wonder how many people around the council table could run a business bigger than a lemonade stand? There was a time when a big slice of city council was made up of business people who treated taxpayers’ money as if it were their own. … Note to Mark MacDonald: Pleeeese. Let’s put the pedal-to-metal election campaign on the backburner and enjoy spring. … Hate to see it happen but it looks more and more like Coun. Denis Thibault will not seek re-election in October. … Tired of global warming folks telling us we need to use our cars less then they get in their gas-guzzling RVs and drive to Florida (and back). … With councillors eyeing the October election date, the “Silly Season” has started. … Good to see that some councillors feel that with all the city problems solved, they can now start telling the hospital how to run things.

THIS & THAT Seven or eight people with 60 minutes to spare stage a protest and the non-event gets a five-column photo and story, with a screaming headline, that takes up most of the front page. Just goes to show that Allan Fotheringham was right when he mused that some days there is more newsprint than news. … It might not have been good for Canada but if the PQ had won the Quebec election Cornwall would have benefited from the exodus of folks fleeing La Belle Province. … It doesn’t justify the feds decision to lease the waterfront property it owns near the harbour, but only about 18 inches of the controversial storage tanks are above the ground. Many folks, this scribbler included, thought that we were talking about 40-foot silos above the ground.

ROUND’N’BOUT Seems kind of strange that somebody can be assaulted in front of 3,000 people (hockey fans) and it takes three weeks for an arrest. And why are we selling booze at a “family” sports event in a city facility? The NCAA doesn’t allow alcohol to be served in any of the arenas that play host to its March Madness games. .. Heard somebody complain that they can’t get a trial date until November. Fact is, that is pretty quick in today’s bumper-to-bumper court traffic. … Don’t look now, but the geese are back in Lamoureux Park. Just six more weeks until the debate gets started around the council table on what to do about the pests … The more I look at the new multi-million dollar “temporary” Canada Border Services Agency port, the more it looks like a permanent multi-million dollar port. … Want to know why public sector pension plans are speeding toward the wall? Look at the Sunshine list. In most cases, folks on the list will retire – many before they are 60 – with an indexed pension that makes up 70% of their best five years. That means somebody who retires with a salary of $100,000, and that number is growing, could be eligible for an annual (guaranteed) pension of around $70,000, plus health benefits. That is not sustainable in the long run.

THIS & THAT Is there another place in this country where folks have to fork out $6.50 (return) to go from one part of Ontario to another as is the case with the north span of the Seaway International Bridge (Cornwall to Cornwall Island)? It works out to about $62.50 a kilometre. … City should put up signs on Second Street, at Brookdale, for drivers travelling east or west on Second, pointing to the new low level bridge. … Mayor Bob Kilger, who long ago announced he will seek a third term, is expected to file his nomination papers next month. He’s been in politics since 1988. At this point, he is faced with a token challenge in the October mayoral race.

SPORTS STUFF That’s ex-Cornwall Royals’ forward Scott Arniel behind the bench of the New York Rangers. He’s an assistant coach. … Gerard Gallant, Canadiens’ assistant coach, did not play for the 1979-80 Sherbrooke Castors as stated in this space. He played for the 1980-81 Castors. … All Ron Morin did was take a runned-down Cornwall Motor Speedway and turn it into one of the finest facilities on the DIRT circuit. He hired good people and let them do their job. He also holds the record for the shortage acceptance speech in Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame history. As a sports editor, always enjoyed working with Ron. Now that he has sold the speedway, he no longer has to start watching The Weather Channel on Thursday.

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