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Bronze statue bound for County unveiled at 200th birthday party for Sir John A Macdonald

Sir John A. Macdonald 'Holding Court' will be unveiled downtown Picton on Canada Day

Sir John A. Macdonald ‘Holding Court’ will be unveiled downtown Picton on Canada Day

A larger-than-life bronze statue of Sir John A Macdonald bound for Prince Edward County was unveiled before a sold-out crowd – including Ontario’s premier and other dignitaries – in Toronto on Saturday.

Sir John A Macdonald. Library and Archives Canada photo

Sir John A Macdonald. Library and Archives Canada photo

The 200th birthday of Canada’s first prime minister was celebrated at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel. Members and friends of the Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County gathered with 400 guests and dignitaries including Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, former Prime Minister Kim Campbell, and Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell. TVO host Steve Paikin served as master of ceremonies.

The highlight of the evening was the unveiling of the bronze statue entitled ‘Holding Court ’ created by renowned Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy. Holding Court is 8’ by 4’ by 6.6’ high.  It weighs 1,400 lbs.  It depicts Macdonald as a young lawyer addressing a jury at his very first court case in Picton, Upper Canada on October 8, 1834. Macdonald won the case, successfully defending himself against an assault charge occasioned by a practical joke. Four months later at the age of 20, he graduated from the Law Society of Upper Canada as an attorney – the beginning of his career in both law and politics.

Mayor Robert Quaiff with former prime minister Kim Campbell

Mayor Robert Quaiff with former prime minister Kim Campbell

“It was an honour to be part of the unveiling ceremony of the sculpture of Sir John A. Macdonald that will be located in Picton on Canada Day,” said County mayor Robert Quaiff, who was among the honoured guests and County residents including David Warrick, chair of the Macdonald Project, and his wife Marilyn; Peter Lockyer, Greg Sorbara, Daryl Kramp and Lanny and Catharine Huff. “This is just one more reason Prince Edward County is getting noticed. Because of the work of the dedicated individuals involved in bringing this to reality, it will only assist with making heritage an economic driver for our County.”

The sculpture is to be unveiled in downtown Picton (on the lawn of the Armoury next to Picton Library) on Canada Day 2015. Picton and neighbouring communities were a formative part of Macdonald’s early years. Throughout his life he often referred to himself as a “Quinte boy” and reflected fondly upon these years as some of the best of his life.

David Warrick, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County, thanked all of the event supporters for joining in on the festivities and celebrating Macdonald. The artwork celebrates the largely untold story of Macdonald’s youth, his humble origins as the only son in a family of Scottish immigrants who moved to the Quinte area in the 1830s, and his persevering efforts to develop his legal career.

“Sir John A. Macdonald was a gifted orator, politician and statesman. He lived in very challenging times, and suffered a great many personal tragedies. But he helped forge a coalition of nation builders who collectively created our country. He changed the course of history. We owe him our great thanks for the legacy he has left us,” said Warrick.

Photos courtesy Sandra Foreman photography

Premier Kathleen Wynne, poses beside Sir John A Macdonald, his artist Ruth Abernathy and former prime minister Kim Campbell.

Premier Kathleen Wynne, poses beside Sir John A Macdonald, his artist Ruth Abernethy and former prime minister Kim Campbell. Sandra Foreman photography photo

Marilyn and David Warrick pose with Sir John and artist Ruth Abernathy

Marilyn and David Warrick pose with Sir John and artist Ruth Abernethy

 

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  1. Wolf Braun says:

    Emily: “Just one man’s interpretation.”

    There are many scholars that say pretty much the same. In some cases even less flattering. Hansard also recorded Macdonald’s own words which are pretty damning.

    I think we can all agree that he was the first PM of Canada. We can also give him credit for building this wonderful nation. What we must not forget is how he went about that building. It speaks to Macdonald’s principles at the time.

  2. Paul says:

    Mohawks a nomadic people travelled all around Lake Ontario long before Europeans ever set foot in North America Emily, they summered and wintered in different areas depending on the season,food supply and shelter. First contact with the Norse (Vikings)is believed to have been around 985CE, United Empire Loyalist arrived some 400 to 500 years later “I still do not understand why the Mohawks have any special rights apart from many of the rest of us whose ancestors resided here just as long. Mohawks were given land and the UEL”s were given land. Time to treat everyone the same.” Sir John A MacDonald arrived with the United Empire Loyalists.

    Its not about money Mr.Richman restitution is ordered by the legal system. Aboriginals want the treaties and agreements honored when that cannot happen because White Folks would be ordered to relinquish their homes and property which would not be fair a monetary settlement is ordered.

    Canada is a Great Country Sir John A MacDonald played a part in that agreed. I’m Proud to be Canadian and I’m proud of my Aboriginal heritage. I’m thankful that we can discuss these issues openly and although Emily’s point of view and my point of view differ we can discuss it and still respect each others opinion. That’s one of the many things that makes Canada a Great Country….

  3. Emily says:

    How does he know for certain what Sir John would have hated? Just one man’s interpretation. For every good man there is another waiting to knock him down, I believe is an expression.

  4. Wolf Braun says:

    This makes for good reading….

    “…Under the shadow of Sir John A. Macdonald’s glorious accomplishments, we remain connected to a defunct empire; we possess no national vision that connects French-speaking and English-speaking populations; and we have not dealt, nor are we dealing, with the underlying crime of taking land by force from the people whose rebellions against English dominion we crushed while he was prime minister. The memory of Macdonald is the nightmare of history; it is the memory we should forget but cannot.

    The Canada that we want to have is open, tolerant, and, above all, itself. Sir John A. Macdonald would have hated every word in that sentence. He was the father of the country, sure. But he was the father of the country we don’t want to be.”- STEPHEN MARCHE

  5. Wolf Braun says:

    Issue? What is your issue? I just believe when two people move to the same neighborhood at the same time let’s treat each the same regardless of race.

    No issue here. When you say “let’s” who are you referring to? Society? Unfortunately, religion sometimes doesn’t have that effect. e.g. Sunni and Shia and many others.

  6. Emily says:

    Issue? What is your issue? I just believe when two people move to the same neighborhood at the same time let’s treat each the same regardless of race.

  7. Wolf Braun says:

    Issue? What’s the issue for ‘you’?

    I simply accept Macdonald…. warts ad all. What people need to deal with is how he treated non-white people. Pretty badly.

  8. Emily says:

    I had read that. So what is the issue here?

  9. Wolf Braun says:

    If you google your question you will find the following…..

    “After the the American Revolutionary war which ended with an American victory, the British ceded their claim to land in the colonies, and the Americans forced their allies, the Mohawk and others, to give up their territories in New York. Most of the Mohawk migrated to Canada, where the Crown gave them land in compensation. The Mohawks at the Upper Castle fled to Fort Niagara, while most of those at the Lower Castle fled to Montreal. This land was settled on the Grand River (Ontario), and extended 100 miles from its mouth to the head of Lake Erie where it discharges.[5]

    Joseph Brant led a large group of Iroquois out of New York to what became the reserve of the Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario. Another Mohawk war chief, John Deseronto, led a group of Mohawks to the Bay of Quinte. Other Mohawks settled in the vicinity of Montreal and upriver, joining the established communities (now reserves) at Kahnawake, Akwesasne, and Kanesatake. ” White people have been disputing those claims and in fact the struggle has been going on for centuries.

    In other words, the Mohawk people were rewarded with land for their loyalty to King and county. This is no different than the Crown giving away large tracts of land to United Empire Loyalists when they migrated from the States into Canada.

  10. Emily says:

    I still do not understand why the Mohawks have any special rights apart from many of the rest of us whose ancestors resided here just as long. Mohawks were given land and the UEL”s were given land. Time to treat everyone the same.

  11. Wolf Braun says:

    >>>”John A threated first nations people badly, not unlike his counter parts.”

    Prime Minister John A. Macdonald’s government presided over the largest “legal” mass execution of Natives people in Canadian history! Mass executions took place in western Canada.

    Macdonald also wanted Canada to be a pure Aryan race country and he viewed the Chinese as a threat to his goal. Macdonald’s white supremacist bent and views were fully exposed for posterity when he made the following comments in Canada’s House of Commons, which were duly recorded in Hansard (Records of Canada’s Parliament) on May 4, 1885, as he sought to justify an amendment taking the vote away from anyone “of Mongolian or Chinese race.” He stated that, if the Chinese (who had been in British Columbia as long as Europeans) were allowed to vote, “they might control the vote of that whole Province” and their “Chinese representatives” would foist “Asiatic principles,” “immoralities,” and “eccentricities” on the House “which are abhorrent to the Aryan race and Aryan principles.” He further claimed that “the Aryan races will not wholesomely amalgamate with the Africans or the Asiatics” and that “the cross of those races, like the cross of the dog and the fox, is not successful; it cannot be, and never will be.”

    source: Timothy J. Stanley, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of History and the Faculty of Education, University of Ottawa

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