Dianne Cunningham

204 St. James Street

When Kevin Cunningham was 14, he was permanently injured in a car accident. After getting a job on Richmond Street, at T.J. Baxter’s, his cheerful interactions with the merchants on Richmond Row led to him being dubbed “The Mayor of Richmond Row.” His paintings still grace the sunroom of 204 St. James Street.


In the following narrative Diane Cunningham tells a story about her son, Kevin Cunningham, who lived with her at 204 St. James Street. After being injured in a car accident, Kevin got a job at T.J. Baxter’s. Over time Kevin came to be known as one of the mayors of Richmond Row.


He was always a kind person and he was a good hockey player and if they were winning, he’d pass the puck to somebody that couldn’t skate, you know, and they’d get the goal or not.

He was 14, and you get a phone call from the police that your kid’s been in a car accident, and both boys were in it, so the other boy was injured as well. And you go to the hospital and he’s like in a coma and you’re just you’re frozen stiff and you have one set of tears and that’s all you can have. You just have to get on with it. And I think he willed himself better and I helped him.

And then he got a job in T.J. Baxter’s. He’d open in the morning and then he’d come home and he was on heavy medication so he’d take his dog for a walk, have a sleep and go to the Y. It was surprising to me, they called him ‘The Mayor’, I guess. It was after he passed away that this happened. And he was kind of a humble guy and he came a long way because he was absolutely—couldn’t read, write, smell—anything. I don’t know how he made himself into the kind of person he did because he had this… he had guts. And he had drive. But I don’t know how you get a kid like that, and I didn’t even know about that until I saw him in later life and realized oh, he’s sort of special. And his brother and sister realized it too.

So there’s all kinds of art upstairs of the pictures that he did. It would take him a year to do a picture. And there’s a lot of pictures in other people’s homes if he chose to give them away. And he passed away when we were getting the last floor in the house done, which was the room upstairs, which was the sunroom. And we had all the furniture out in the yard. And he said to me—he was going to work—he said, “you’re not going to put…”—’cause one of the arts is like a paint the number you know—and he said, “I just don’t think you’re going to put that artwork up again.” I said “Kevin, that artwork will be up there forever, unless you take it down.”


If you would like to hear more stories from the Great Talbot area, walk south along Richmond Street and turn right on Sydenham Street and look for another Hear, Here sign on the north side of Sydenham Street. If you would like to hear stories of The Village, walk south along Richmond to the CPR tracks, and look for the Hear, Here sign just north of the tracks.