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Five possible sites for Sir John A sculpture

The public is invited to a discussion about possible locations for the John A. Macdonald bronze sculpture project.
Members of the Macdonald Project steering committee are hosting a public meeting Tuesday, Aug. 9 from 7-9 p.m. in the Town Hall above the Fire Hall in Picton.  “This is an important meeting because it’s your opportunity to hear about the site options and to discuss the pros and cons of the five shortlisted sites for the bronze sculpture,” said David Warrick, committee chairman.
The life-sized bronze portrait of Macdonald is meant to celebrate the first trial of John A. Macdonald in Picton in October 1834.
“This event is significant in the history of Canada for a number of reasons,” said Warrick. “The sculpture will celebrate the bicentennial of Macdonald’s birth in January 2015.  While a sculptor artist and her design have been selected, we are currently active in considering the most suitable site location in Picton. The design depicts the youthful Macdonald presenting his first recorded legal case in the Picton Court House in 1834 standing beside the prisoner’s dock before an imaginary jury, represented by bronze benches.
“The benefits of this Macdonald bronze sculpture are significant:
* It will be an important tourist attraction and promote business and heritage interests
* It will create a new public meeting place in a prominent place in Picton
* It will honour our most famous former resident and the first Prime Minister of Canada
* It will be a place for historical and artistic presentations for school children, residents and visitors
* It will recognize the historical significance of Prince Edward County and establish a heritage theme for the continued redevelopment of historic downtown Picton.
* It will create an iconic image for all County interests.”

The artist will propose an art form for the installation based on the historic purpose and popular usage identified. The Macdonald Square is meant to be a magnet for tourists and visitors.  It will be a meeting place for many events including walking tours and presentations.
Each site will require its own agreement based on a mutually agreed upon terms.  In some cases, this agreement may take the form of a lease; in others cases, full ownership may be required.
The Steering Committee will use the following Four Site Selection Criteria when comparing the site options. The preferred site should be
·         Historically significant in a Canadian context
·         Desirable as a meeting place
·         Accessible and attractive to pedestrians
·         Suitable for educational/cultural presentations
Here is the general location of the five shortlisted sites.
1.      Court House
2.      Town Hill
3.      Shire Hall
4.      Armoury
5.      Archives and Collections Society (The Victory)/Benson Park

Macdonald Project a celebration of history

Peter Hill, dressed as Sir John A. Macdonald, and sculptor Ruth Abernethy stand next to the sketch of the proposed  bronze portrait.

The guests enjoyed the scenic venue and delicious local food and drinks.

AUG. 30, 2010: All his life, Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald had a deep connection with what he called “the good old County.”

“―…the good old County….my early associations are connected with Prince Edward – some of the happiest days of my life were spent here – I here obtained my earliest professional education, and here, in this good old town of Picton, I earned my first fee and made my first speech to a jury in this very Court House….‖ — John A. Macdonald in Picton 1861

Ruth Abernethy (in blue) visits with Catharine and Lanny Huff, from Huff Estates Winery, and Carlyn Moulton of the County Community Foundation.

And The Macdonald Project, through the County Community Foundation of Prince Edward County, will honour that connection. The group  held a kick-off reception at the Courtyard Barns of Glenora, owned by Ann Wood, on Saturday night. The purpose of the project is to commemorate and celebrate John A. Macdonald, the most famous resident of Prince Edward County, by commissioning a bronze sculpture of him to be located in a suitable place in Picton.

Guests  enjoyed the scenic venue and delicious tastes courtesy of Huff Estates Winery, Fifth Town Cheese and the Waring House. They met internationally recognized sculptor Ruth Abernethy, who has been selected as the artist to create a life-sized bronze sculpture of John A. Macdonald. She spoke about the design of the sculpture and its importance for Picton. She expressed her excitement about being the hands to recreate “such a wonderful subject”.

Guests listened to Ruth Abernethy express her excitement about the project.

Ms. Abernethy is best known for her outstanding bronze portraits of Glenn Gould, Ian Millar and Big Ben, Arnold Palmer, John Hirsch, William John Butler, William Lyon Mackenzie King and  Oscar Peterson – unveiled by the Queen at the National Arts Centre on June 30th.

Picton’s bronze portrait will depict Macdonald as a young lawyer standing beside a witness box arguing his first cases before a jury in the Old Courthouse in Picton 1834.

The sculpture is to be located in a prominent place in Picton to allow the public to interact with the work.  Ms. Abernethy’s most famous example of this kind of art on a human scale is the Glenn Gould sitting on a bench in front of the CBC headquarters in Toronto.

Toward the end of the presentation, a surprise guest was piped in to the courtyard by Jean-Paul Harney. Sir John A. Macdonald (played by Peter Hill) arrived and recalled his memories of the area. The play, written by David Warrick, was put together by the workshop crew: Marilyn Warrick, Jean-Paul Harney and Alan Gratias.

The Macdonald Project is part of the plans of the Picton Business Improvement Association and Streetsmarts to revitalize historic downtown Picton. It coincides with preparations for the Canada-wide celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Canada’s first Prime Minister beginning on January 11, 2015.

Few people today know that the Bay of Quinte was John A. Macdonald’s home for 11 years from 1824 to 1835. He lived in Hay Bay, attended school at Adolphustown, opened a branch law office in Napanee when he was 17, lived with his family at the Stone Mills of Glenora, where his father was a miller and a magistrate, and practiced law in Picton from 1833 to 1835. All his life, Macdonald had a deep connection with what he called “the good old County.”

Local schools, arts organizations and heritage groups will be invited to participate in the Macdonald Project.

The goal of the fundraising campaign is to raise $250,000 by 2011.

For more information on the project, contact: David Warrick, Chair of Steering Committee 613 471 1238 Picton.
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