Freeholder at 175: The Cornwall Refuge House Opening


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For the 175th anniversary of the founding of Cornwall Freeholder, I had the honor and pleasure of writing 20 columns covering some of Cornwall’s greatest stories and a wide range of local history topics.


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My favorite local subject is the Cornwall Shelter Home, better known today as Heartwood Long Term Care at 201 Eleventh St. E. For those who may not know, I did some research greedy about the establishment – specifically, the 906 residents building a house – over the past nine years.

It should come as no surprise that my last column for this series must have focused on this historic residence.

On October 17, 1913, the front page of the Freeholder featured a photo in the upper left corner of a newly constructed building; Cornish Refuge House. After numerous protests and numerous deliveries of several petitions to the construction committee and city council, the building was completed, and on October 16, 1913, “The members of the county council, which has sat here all week, took afternoon of their duties to attend the official inauguration of the Maison du Refuge. A large number of people came out into the building at 3 pm “and the singing of the national anthem concluded” the important event After a number of prominent figures showed up to deliver a speech.

Part of the front page of the Cornwall Freeholder on October 17, 1913.
Part of the front page of the Cornwall Freeholder on October 17, 1913.

The Freeholder article goes on to say that the sod was first handed over in June 1911, which officially marked the start date of construction. The article also explains that the institution was built at the expense of the counties, at a cost of $ 60,000. Only $ 4000 in government assistance was received to help with the construction.

“Nothing has been neglected to make it one of the most complete in the province. “


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The property consists of 140 acres, and half of it has been used for cultivation. The crops were used to feed the residents living in the facility, and all extras were sold for profit so they could buy what they needed. Residents were also required to work on the farm if they were healthy and able to do so, in order to earn a living.

Made of gray concrete blocks, the building also had its own electrical equipment installed by the English firm Lester and Brushton. This facility also provided electricity for the septic tank and laundry machinery.

“The sewage system is drained into a septic tank and distributed from there into a filter bed.”

The building had to be kept in “perfect condition, in every detail”. The grounds were to be kept in good repair, including walkways and lawn work carried out by local prison labor, under the direction of the jailer, TW Ault.

  1. A page from a 2001 magazine published by the Standard-Freeholder on Mary Mack.

    Freeholder at 175: Cornwall voters elect Mary Mack in 1948

  2. Pages from a Standard-Freeholder magazine from January 2001, featuring John A. Cameron.

    Freeholder at 175: The Story of John ‘Cariboo’ Cameron The page for the special section on Claude Nunney published by the Standard-Freeholder in January 2001.

  3. The page of the special section on Claude Nunney published by the Standard-Freeholder in January 2001.

    Freeholder at 175: Cover for those who made the ultimate sacrifice

This facility was built to help the poor stay off the streets and to provide them with proper care. Some of the residents of the building included: the elderly, the poor, single mothers, those with great business losses, retirees, the elderly without families to care for them, etc.


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In 1952 this facility closed and Glen Stor Dun Lodge was opened. All residents have been transferred to this facility. The building on 11th Street East was sold and renovated by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In 1954, St. Michael’s Academy, a Catholic school for girls, was opened. In 1970 the school closed, and in 1972 the building was remodeled into a long-term care home and has remained so since.

My mom Linda has worked my entire life as a critical worker at Heartwood Nursing Home. Growing up, I would play in the front yard and run to visit the fish pond in the front. During my visits, I often stopped to speak to all the residents and have made many friendships over the years.

I would like to dedicate this column to my dearest friend for 18 years, Margaret Ellen Gelinas. She was a resident of Heartwood Nursing Home who literally watched me grow up. She passed away on September 5th and due to COVID-19 I had not been able to visit her for two years.

Marguerite, this one is for you!



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