(The Hall was first built for the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) and was constructed next to the Cambridge Baptist Church. At one point, it became the Hall for the Farmers’ Association. Eventually, it became the Women’s Institute Hall. Today, it is used for the Cambridge-Narrows Regional Library and is owned by the Village of Cambridge-Narrows. Please see "Building History" for more information.)
The upper level of the building was once used as a residence. The census of 1891 mentions “Beverly Black, wife Eliza, sons Pearl and Frank” living there. Alice Straight mentioned in her journal on May 4, 1934 that “Alfred Perry is moving back up over the Hall.”
Alice May (Parks) Straight wrote journals between 1907 and 1951. Her diaries have been printed in one volume and may be seen at the Cambridge-Narrows Regional Library, or purchased through Queens County Heritage. The following notes have been taken from her diary and in some instances, wording has been changed or modified for clarity.
Alice often mentioned her three daughters - Jennie, Mabel and Ada and son, Fred. She often wrote about walking up to the Hall (which is today the Library) - a short distance from their house at 2216 Bridge Drive. These are adapted excerpts from 16 Journals by Alice May (Parks) Straight:
February 11, 1921 - There was a concert and pie social here in the Hall. They got $122 for the pies and took up $14.80 at the door. The money is to go to fix up the Hall.
December 28, 1921 - A party up here in the Cambridge Hall. They all went up to it and had a lovely time.
January 7, 1922 - The farmers are having a short program passed-around in the Hall.
March 3, 1922 - The boys Sunday School Class had a supper in the Cambridge Hall. Each boy invited in a girl and they went for a drive (two-double-sled loads of them) over to Grand Lake, around the block and back in the afternoon. When they came back they stopped at the Hall and had supper, then played games and had music. Elsie Robinson and Jennie (Straight) prepared supper for them.
March 11, 1922 - The young folks held a supper in the Hall, then played games and some of them ended up with a dance.
January 3, 1924 - The B.Y.P.U. held a social evening in the Cambridge Hall. They played games and then served refreshments.
January 19, 1924 - Saturday - The W.C.T.U. held a pie social and concert here in the Hall to get money for the Orphans Home. They made $52.80.
February 23, 1924 - The Knights of Honor held their annual social in the Cambridge Hall. Each boy invited a girl. They went for a snow shoe up to the Lake. And when they returned to the Hall, Pearl Sharp, Elsie Gail and Jennie Straight had supper all ready for them. Then they spent the evening in games and music.
July 17, 1924 - A big thunder storm. There is a moving Picture show up here in the Hall at night. The girls was up to the show. They say that it was great.
November 29, 1924 - Saturday - The Sewing Circle had a sale up here in Cambridge Hall. They sold Fancy goods, home made candy and Lunches. They made $62.00. I was up and bought some goods.
December 27, 1924 - There was a debate up here in the Hall. The debate was “Resolved that it would be better for the country if capital punishment were abolished.” The negative side won. Burnham Corcoran was leader of the affirmative side and under him were Victor Robinson and Garfield McRae. The negative side consisted of Louis Akerley, James Bond and Norman Patterson. The Hall was full.
January 3, 1925 - There is a pie social and concert up here in the Hall. The proceeds to go to the Orphans home.
March 14, 1925 - A big snow storm. There was a concert from Lake View held up here in the Hall. Ada and Fred (Straight - her daughter and son) were up to it and said that it was very nice. The proceeds are to go to the LakeView school house.
April 11, 1925 - The Sewing circle had a supper and sale up here in the Cambridge Hall. I helped with the tea and coffee.
June 23, 1925 - The B.Y.P.U. had a social evening here in the Hall. Ada (Straight) and Melba Todd have been busy getting everything ready for it and helping trim up the Hall.
October 29, 1925 - Election Day. Dr. Walter came down with his car and took Mother and I up to the Hall to vote. George P. Jones won here. He is Conservative.
December 5, 1925 - Farmers Supper. The annual banquet of the Cambridge-Narrows Agricultural Society was held on Saturday evening in the Temperance Hall under the convenership of James C. Bond. Upwards of a hundred were present including the members and their guests.
The Hall was beautifully decorated. President Burnham Corcoran presided. Lewis Akerley fine master levied several penalties.
A mock trial was held which caused much merriment. When one of the members was arrested for stealing four of his neighbors chickens. As the trial progressed the quips made by the attorneys and witnesses in the hot cross-examinations brought forth much laughter from the spectators. The accused was eventually found guilty and sentenced to fifty years in the penitentiary, the plaintiff was Frank Black, defendant Jacob Carpenter. Judge Burnham Corcoran, attorney for defence Lewis Akerley, attorney for prosecution James C. Bond. Constable, Frank Robinson. Detective, Theodore White. Clerk of the court, Cecil Ferris. Jurymen David Hamm, Herbert Akerley, Ethelbert Fowler and E. S. Howes.
Then there was a comedy. “Thumbs Up” which was next stages. Those who took part in the play were Lewes Akerley as the Theatrical Manager looking for Players to form a troupe; James C. Bond as “Sam” a darkey who is the Manager’s porter; Walter Cronwell as Moses Hencoop a comedian; Charles Parlee as Jest A. Howler, tenor singer; John Perry as Madame Patty-pan noted soprano; Walter Todd as Robinson Caruso, famous bass; Shelton Appleby as Pat Flynn, Irish comedian; Cecil Ferris as Bliss Carmel, elocutionist, and Whitney Gilchrist as Houdini the Medium who brings the porter back to life after being killed by the Irishman in a fight. That ended the evenings entertainment.
January 2, 1926 - Saturday night - there was a concert up here in the Hall tonight. Uncle Mack (Malcolm Straight) drove Aunt Kate (his wife, Thorne-Straight), Dot and Marion (Straight-Malcolm and Kate’s daughters) up here and we all - Mabel, Ada and I went up to the Concert with them. Ada had a part in it. It was very nice and there was a big crowd there.
July 1, 1926 - the Sewing Circle held a supper and sale up here by the Hall and there was a concert from Jemseg held in the Hall in the evening. It was very nice.
October 30, 1926 - There is a Masquerade party and concert held up here in the Hall. Ada went dressed as a snow ball and Fred dressed in a yellow lace dress up to his knees with yellow jazz garters and black slippers. He was a Flapper. After the concert games were played and refreshments were served. Everybody had a very nice time.
December 5, 1926 - Sunday - the Narrows is frozen over this morning for the first time this year. The farmers had their supper up here in the Hall last night.
March 5, 1927 - There is a concert in the Hall up here this school and Lake View together has it, to make money to get new seats for the Hall. Mack drove Aunt Kate and Susie Black up so they stopped in for me to go. The concert was very good. They made $52.00 after we had gone up Alba and Wendell (Carpenter) came and put their horse in here too.
August 20, 1927 - The Sewing Circle held their sale in the Hall in the afternoon then there was a little entertainment and pie social in the evening. About $82 was raised.
November 12, 1927 - The Girls of the Sunday School held a concert up here in the Hall assisted by a few others. Fred and I went up and it was very nice.
December 1, 1928 - The farmers supper is held up here in the Hall tonight.
October 31, 1929 - Opening of the New Orange Hall at the Narrows
December 4, 1930 - There was a concert and sale of Fancy Work up here in Cambridge Hall tonight. The concert came from Young’s Cove. It was a good one. I was there. It is very cold weather zero at night.
August 2, 1933 - After supper Aunt Kate walked up and we all went up to a concert in the Cambridge Hall.
August 14, 1933 - A concert for the W.Y.P.U. up here in the Cambridge Hall - 25 cents. I was up there - was a big crowd there - a lot of summer people there.
December 23, 1933 - Ethel Black came in just as we was finishing dinner. She was up helping to trim up the Hall for the School Concert that they are having tonight. Earl McCutcheon is the teacher that is getting up the Concert. He has been teaching here for two years now. Fred and I went up to the Concert tonight. It was very nice.
May 4, 1934 - Mrs. Effie Perry held a birth party for Mr. Alfred Perry this evening. He is 83 years old. Fred and I went to the party. There was a big crowd there. He had been staying at Effie’s all winter, but was leaving to live alone, up over the Hall again this summer.
August 2, 1934 - There was a show of Uncle Tom’s Cabin up here in the Hall at night so Fred went and took Marjorie and Gena to see it.
May 4, 1935 - The steam-boat Majestic made her first trip up today for this year. In the evening there was a birthday party held for Mr. Alfred Perry up here in the Cambridge Hall. Aunt Kate, Georgie Carpenter and I went up to it.
July 20, 1935 - The B.Y.P.U. had a supper up here in the Hall, and I had to do some cooking for them.
February 28, 1936 - There was a School Convention up here in the Hall in the evening so we went up to that. They had a very nice entertainment for the Public. Dr. Baird and Dr. Grant spoke. Mrs. Gordon Robinson gave a reading. Edith Perry and Mrs. Dannie Carpenter each had a Recitation and Mrs. George Tissington a violin solo and Margaret Orchard played school day on the organ and others helped with the singing.
September 24, 1936 - There was a trial up in the Hall to see about taking the Post Office away from Charley Orchard the 17th of September and they had to meet again today to finish up. The Hall was full of men and women to hear what was said.
December 19, 1936 - quite a nice fine day. I was up to the school concert in the Hall. In the evening there was quite a crowd there. Edith Perry is the teacher here now.
August 3, 1939 - The Cambridge Tennis Club entertained the Chipman Club at tea. They played tennis in the afternoon. The Cambridge Club won all games but one. Marjorie was up watching them play, and had tea with them in the Cambridge Hall.
October 18, 1939 - The Cambridge Match was held up here today in Florence ‘McDonald’ Campbell’s field, Plowing Match. And the people of the Baptist Church served dinner and supper in the Cambridge Hall. It snowed last night, the first snow of the season. The ground was white when we got up this morning.
September 23, 1942 - I was up to the Hall to a quilting of the W.I. this afternoon. We quilted two quilts - one was for Jennie Hatt.
October 28, 1942 - I went up to the hall with Mrs. Harry Orchard and helped to put a quilt in the frames.
October 29, 1942 - I have been up to the Hall quilting this afternoon.
October 30, 1942 - Mrs. Orchard and Mrs. Coffal and I have been quilting up at the Hall and finished the quilt.
October 1, 1946 - month came in like a lion with high winds. There is a plowing Match up at Rickers today. The W.I. are getting the Dinner and Supper up here in the Hall for all that comes.
February 11, 1948 - A social Meeting for the W.I. held up here in the Hall - quite a crowd there. Mabel, Dorothy, Margaret and Walter and I went. We had a very nice evening.
February 14, 1948 - a big thaw today - the first one that we have had this winter and the first mild day we have had in a long time. Tonight there is a Pie Social up here in the Hall for the school. It is very icy road but Mabel and children and Fred and I went up. Mabel and children took pies and there was quite a crowd there and they made $50.00 some dollars.
February 25, 1948 - A picture show for the School and all the people went. One picture was the Royal Wedding. It was lovely, then we all went again in the evening and the hall was packed with people.
April 14, 1948 - Mabel, her girls and I went up to the Hall to a Picture Show. Mrs. Tom Black, Pressie Wilson was there. They had just got back home last week from the U.S. where they had been for a visit. There was a Hall full tonight.
May 6, 1948 - Walter, Dorothy and Margaret Black went up to B.Y.P.U. social evening held up in the Hall tonight.
May 19, 1948 - It has rained all day - showers today. The school Pictures are held up here in the Hall. Mabel and her children went this afternoon, then again at night - more Pictures and a Pie Social for the school. The Hall was full of people. Fred and I went.
June 23, 1948 - There was Pictures for the school children, so Mabel and I went up to the Hall with them and saw it. In the evening they had them again and the little children sold Fudge. Mabel made 2 boxes of Fudge for Margaret to take. Margaret auction off the Fudge. They made $20.00 out of the Fudge.
August 20, 1948 - A big supper up in the Hall for the W.I. There was a big crowd there - supper was 65 cents for grown ups.
October 25, 1949 - Councillor Election up here in the Hall. Effie and I went up and voted. There was only 4 Woman in this county that could vote. Mrs. Black and Miss Pearl Sharp and Effie and I.
November 16, 1949 - We went up to a show that they have for the school here once a month. It was a good show and the Hall was about full of people.
December 21, 1949 - a rainy day. School Pictures was up here in the Hall. We went up to the Pictures and they were very good.
February 15, 1950 - Elva Vall and I went up to the Hall to school Pictures. They were very nice.
September 11, 1950 - There was a plowing Match over at John Perry’s this afternoon. There is a big crowd around as the W.I. are serving meals up here in the Hall. Aunt Kate and I went up to supper. The Hall was full of people.
November 28, 1950 - It is still raining yet today. The people are having a shower up in the Hall for Elva and Bill McConachie. I am not very well so could not go.
Alice Mary (Parks) Straight died February 1953