The 35 acre Cornwall Army (Basic) Training Camp opened on the Dingwall estate on October 9, 1940. The camp was located between Marlborough St. and McConnell Ave. from 6th St. E. to about 8th St. E. When it closed in 1944, Lt-Col. Rodolphe Larose had put approximately 15,000 men through the 30 to 40 day basic training course as well as the N.R.M.A. four-month course.
The camp opened with a capacity of 750 trainees and a staff of 177 apart from hospital staff. The C.O., Lt-Col. Larose formerly commanded the Hull regiment. Assisting him were Major Walter Chambers of Pembroke and Captain Delamar Boyce of Ottawa was Adjutant.
After the war, in February of 1946, the City purchased 13 of the huts at a cost of $4,122 from the War Assets Corporation, on the condition that they not be sold to individuals for housing. That was 8% of the $51,501 original cost. Some of the huts were re-located to area parks where they served as club houses until a few years ago. Two of them also made their way to 15 First Street West and put together in an inverted “T” with the front building bricked for use as a YMCA.
Between January 22, 1948 and October 1 of the same year, 35 to 43 County Gaol prisoners from Brockville, Cornwall, Kingston and Ottawa dismantled 30 huts from the camp to be relocated to provide “temporary” lodging during the construction of the Rideau Industrial (jail) Farm at Burritt’s Rapids. On October 1, Rideau Industrial Farm’s superintendent, Edward Griffin, reported that 30 Camp 31 buildings, purchased from War Assets Corporation, had been dismantled by that time preparatory to shipment and that six of those had already been shipped and three re-assembled as temporary barracks. The 43 inmates then at the Cornwall site were completing clean up of the decommissioned Camp 31.
Today the site is a residential neighbourhood west of the hospital.
Each November, the Cornwall Community Museum at the foot of York Street features a commemorative war exhibit; this year’s theme is this camp and what became of it. Extra staff will be on-site from Wednesday November 14 until Saturday November 17 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. daily. Admission is free.
Photos courtesy of the SD&G Historical Society