Kyle Bergeron's father and grandfather each ran the Cornwall District Minor Baseball league before him.
His father and uncle helped co-found Legion Park, an 18-acre "slice of heaven" along the eastern Ontario city's waterfront with several baseball diamonds nestled among trees, gentle hills and a multi-use path.
Bergeron grew up playing the sport in the park, and one field bears the family name.
So you can imagine his disappointment when the batting cage — used by dozens of young players from in and around the Cornwall area — was set ablaze not once but twice in the past two weeks.
"My dad recently passed away just at the end of last summer. And I promised my dad before he passed that I would look after the park in his absence," said Bergeron Saturday outside what's left of the cage.
The smell of smoke still hung in the air.
"I'm not too sure how long, but it'll be a while before we can get it back up and running again."
'Not a nice feeling'
Cornwall retiree Renske Hartholt was at the park Saturday, watching her grandson play. She'd read about the cage in the newspaper.
"It's not a very nice feeling," she said.
"They need all the practice they can get and we're not a big community, so something like that really hits everybody."
The cage — the only one in town, according to Bergeron — had also been vandalized before the two recent fires. Its electrical panel was damaged, but the repairs had just wrapped up and the cage was set to reopen imminently.
Bergeron has launched a crowdfunding effort that's raised nearly $10,000, as insurance will only cover part of the cost of the latest repairs, he said.
The league, which has over 600 players aged four to 19, is in talks with a local softball league to help fund a twin pair of replacement cages.
"This isn't the first time we've had vandalism like this. It's a little bit heartbreaking, but we'll rebuild. We're resilient," Bergeron said.
The Cornwall Police Service has charged a 16-year-old with arson. They are accused of setting fire to an object near the cage, and causing damage to the cage, on the night of May 16.
Guy Quenneville is a reporter based in Ottawa who grew up (and played softball, badly) in Cornwall. Story tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org