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Bronze portrait of Macdonald now under way

Peter Hill, dressed as Sir John A. Macdonald, and sculptor Ruth Abernethy with the sketch of the proposed bronze portrait, now officially under way.

An agreement with renowned bronze sculptor Ruth Abernethy  launches the ‘Macdonald Project’ – the creation of a life-sized bronze portrait of  John A. Macdonald, celebrating his first trial, in Picton, in 1834.

“We are extremely pleased that the project is moving forward, said David Warrick, Chair of the Steering Committee. “It’s taken two years to reach this point. We’ve been actively researching the often forgotten period in Macdonald’s life when he affectionately called the Bay of Quinte his home for about 11 years.”

As a teenager, Macdonald began his career in law and public administration in the town of Picton, near his family. He contributed to civic life in this small community in Upper Canada and here “came of age.”

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

“We are absolutely delighted that renowned bronze sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, famous for Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould and Al Waxman, has accepted our invitation to create this bronze portrait,” said Warrick.

Warrick says the Macdonald bronze work will be both a national monument and an interactive artwork that will allow visitors to experience John A. Macdonald at street level at a pivotal point in his career. This young lawyer will be positioned at the centre of the town, where he first practiced law. It will be a place where history, art, culture and commerce all meet in this lively and accessible gathering place.

Abernethy’s artwork, Warrick said, is intended to be part of a new heritage economy that will generate interest in the history of Prince Edward County and the Quinte Region.

Abernethy will recreate a scene from Sir John A. Macdonald’s first trial before a judge and jury in Picton.  The work will be entitled ‘Holding Court.’ The sculpture will be part of the nation-wide celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister in 2015.  It will also help to promote the Sesquicentennial of Canada itself in 2017.

Abernethy will begin sculpting the head on the first phase within the next few weeks and then deliver a talk on the project at the 13th Annual Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner at the Royal Military College in Kingston on Jan, 11, 2013.  The subject of the talk will be “Face to Face with Sir John A.”

“This is just the beginning,” said Warrick. “We need the support of the community to help in fundraising.” We have raised the deposit but need $160,000 for the artist’s fee excluding taxes, site preparation and jury seats. We hope that the revenue generated from marketing our heritage will help to boost the local economy and preserve important buildings that are threatened. We thank all of our partners including the County Community Foundation and the municipality of Prince Edward.”

For details, contact David Warrick at

Filed Under: Arts & CultureLocal News

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