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Boulter cannons to be dedicated Saturday at Veterans’ Day in Glenwood

One of two cannons donated by canning pioneer Wellington Boulter.

By Margaret Haylock Capon
A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the arrival of the Boulter cannons in Glenwood Cemetery will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, during the annual observance of Veterans’ Day.

In 1910, canning factory magnate Wellington Boulter, a former mayor of Picton, bought a pair of iron cannons from the British government as souvenirs of the wars between Canada and the United States. Originally, it was his intention to have the guns placed at the Picton courthouse, but, reportedly, council “dithered and argued” over this plan.

Boulter became impatient with its indecisiveness and the cannons were stored, temporarily, at one of his canning factories. They were subsequently donated to the Picton Collegiate and Vocational Institute (PCVI) several months after their acquisition. However, it was not until 1913 that an official dedication ceremony took place.

For more than 40 years, the guns flanked the entrance walkway to the Picton high school. On May 2, 1952, fire destroyed the school and the cannons were then removed from the grounds. Stored in an unknown location for several years, in 1965 they were installed on the front lawn of the Picton Legion Hall on Main Street East.

In 2013, John Rankin, the great great grandson of Wellington Boulter, noticed the guns were in need of restoration. He undertook this work and also compiled a history of the cannons. Both of the garrison guns were manufactured by the Carron Foundry in Glasgow, Scotland — one in 1807 and the other, in 1812.

In the 1834-1934 centennial booklet of PCVI, compiled by former student Constance Willcox, it is stated the gun with the earliest date was used against the Americans, at the Battle of Windmill, near Prescott. However, Rankin has said this information cannot be confirmed and he doubts its accuracy. Both garrison guns carry the cypher of King George III who died in 1812. The cannon manufactured in 1807 is a 24-pounder, while the other is an 18-pounder.

With the sale of the Picton Legion Hall, an historic home once owned by the McMullen family, the cannons have been relocated to Picton’s Glenwood Cemetery.

Cemetery superintendent Helma Oonk says Rankin will be in attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark their arrival to provide their history.

Wellington Boulter, who procured the guns for the Town of Picton, was a strong supporter of Glenwood Cemetery for many years and was buried there.

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