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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. R.Richman says:

    John A was a heavy drinker, not unlike some of his counter parts. John A threated first nations people badly, not unlike his counter parts. John A formed a country, not his counter parts. I think that most of the protesting that goes on in regards to first nations people,its all about money. How many times have you heard how the first nations communities have nothing but the band members are paid pockets full of money by the band who gets their money from Canada. This is the problem. When John Cretien was Minister of Indian affairs he wanted the government of Canada to pay all first nations people to give up their rights. He realized that in the future it would cost the government billions of dollars to support them.It is now. I say give the country bad to them and let them support us with free eduction free land no taxation and all the other things that are available to first nations people.

  2. Wolf Braun says:

    Marnie, the word “peace” is a common thread in all the laws that regulate street protest. These laws either give the police powers to preserve the “peace” at its discretion or ignore the peaceful nature of the protest for other arguably higher goals. Cheers

  3. Marnie says:

    It is not special insight Wolfe. It’s just called common sense. I double dog dare you to block a road for the day and report back on your experience. Oh yes and be sure to take your copy of the Charter of Rights with you. You’ll need it for the policemen.

  4. Wolf Braun says:

    Marnie: “Give me a hint Wolfe – which option would you like me to choose so that you can contradict it? Blocking roads is not the equivalent of hate speech. It is simply s poor if not stupid way of making a point and if a non-Native group were to try it, its members would quickly be disbanded.”

    How do you know with absolute certainty what could happen to a non-Native group? Do you have some special insight?

  5. Marnie says:

    Give me a hint Wolfe – which option would you like me to choose so that you can contradict it? Blocking roads is not the equivalent of hate speech. It is simply s poor if not stupid way of making a point and if a non-Native group were to try it, its members would quickly be disbanded.

  6. Wolf Braun says:

    Are you saying that section one does not include First Nations people ? Or are you saying that blocking bridges is on the same level as hate speech?

  7. Marnie says:

    I agree Hildagard. Perhaps Wolfe should try blocking a road to see how that works out for him.

  8. Hildagard says:

    Wolf– I think you need to brush up on Section 1 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms!

  9. Susan says:

    I don’t know how the Mohawks who arrived here at the same time as the UEL’s are even part of the discussion! Shouldn’t be hijacking Sir John A.

  10. Emily says:

    Good for him. Obviously was able to handle it and get the big job done! We all have our burdens in life.

  11. Wolf Braun says:

    The judgement is in the archives….

    His favorite drink was water and gin. Whenever he delivered lengthy speeches in Parliament he was know to consume glass after glass of water and gin.

  12. Emily says:

    I don’t believe calling Sir John A a drunk and a racist is appropriate. Quite judgmental.

  13. Susie says:

    Omg STOP. Enough!

  14. Wolf Braun says:

    Marnie: “don’t know about that Wolfe. They allow them to block bridges and cause major inconveniences to a lot of people. That has to be progress.”

    You may want to brush up on Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I’m pretty sure the Charter applies to First Nations people as well.

  15. Paul says:

    Who created the social problem Emily ? Handouts or do you mean Treaties Emily ? Reserves were created by the Europeans Emily. Mohawks were a nomadic people historically based in the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York their territory ranged to present-day southern Quebec and eastern Ontario. I’am Mohawk and damn proud of it my ancestors fought for Canada, my People are looked down upon merely looking for a hand out you say Emily are you being inclusive when you say this.. Sir John A McDonald did some great things he was also a drunk and a racist facts speak for themselves Emily…

  16. Mark says:

    Most of us including Jack would not be enjoying such a relatively rich and free lifestyle in a beautiful country called Canada without Sir John A Macdonald’s fore sight and determination. I for one am certainly glad he was around to form a country. Not an easy task. The native issue and who is and who isn’t native is a separate story. I agree with Emily in the sense that we all are native to Earth without borders.

  17. Marnie says:

    We cannot help our forefathers’injustices to the Natives Jack anymore than we can blame ourselves for the holocaust. It’s time to move ahead and lose our guilt complex for mistreatment of the Natives. It’s what’s happening today that matters.

  18. Emily says:

    Suzanne; The rest of us didn’t have a Canadian border either. As for “handouts” it is not embarrassing, it is a social problem. That approach has not reaped success. Perhaps you have a solution moving forward.

  19. Suzanne says:

    @Emily. Natives did not have the Canadian border. Handouts? You are embarrassing yourself.

  20. Emily says:

    The Mohawks are not native to Canada. They arrived in 1784 along with United Empire Loyalists. Land was given to each groups by the British in recognition of their loyalty during the American Revolution. The Tyendinega Mohawks came from New York. It is time to move on. A sense of entitlement and recipients of handouts has not worked well. Becoming inclusive within society and striving for a better life should be the goal. All people need motivation and a desire to achieve. We are all native from somewhere.

  21. Jack Smith says:

    “Get over it and move on”? Would you say that to a Holocaust survivor Marnie?

  22. Marnie says:

    Jack, the Natives may have been wronged but it was a long time ago. It’s about time they got over it and moved on. When they blockade the bridge it is not just an inconvenience. WHat about the people who have medical appointments in Kingston? They should not be forced to drive around. Why don’t you try blocking a road and see what happens? My guess is that the police would remove you, pronto. No equal rights here. I believe the Natives have a perfect right to protest but when they block bridges and cause problems for people who have nothing to do with their grievances they lose my sympathy. They have every right to protest if they want, but why not do it in orderly fashion like the rest of the citizenry? And, oh yes, I have a Mohawk ancestor.

  23. lori says:

    I think its nice they are doing it.
    it is touristy, so tourists can say uuuu and awwww.

    in the article it does mention the area getting noticed.

  24. Suzanne says:

    @Marnie. The last blockades were done to bring attention to the many missing and murdered Native women (and girls)cases that are being virtually ignored.Progress needs to be made there. Sorry for your “inconvenience”. As a woman are you not sympathetic to that cause? And Natives are not Native? (I am not Mohawk btw). As I see it this statue is one more attempt at giving tourists a reason to visit. The money would have better spent towards creating affordable housing for the many families in this county who need it badly.

  25. Gary says:

    Do you carry any $10.00 bills Jack? Lol

  26. Jack Smith says:

    The size of the fault does matter. 🙂

  27. Jack Smith says:

    Guess some people can’t face the truth!!!!

  28. Emily says:

    Jack, show me a man with no faults. John A sure accomplished a lot for his human failings. Not sure this should turn into a native issue. Actually the Mohawks are no more native to this area than the Loyalists!

  29. Jack Smith says:

    I agree with you Wolfe. I read that article and a lot more than just that piece of information .I have friends and relatives that were forced to go to those residential schools. Taken away from there families, their culture taken away. Some of the stuff I was told of about friends that were abused, etc I don’t like talking about it.

    It puts tears in my eyes even to this day. It was Genocide and no one will tell me any different. But those ones that hurt those children like The Nuns, Pastors ,R.C.M.P’s will pay for it in the end when they have to answer to God himself!!

  30. Jack Smith says:

    Marnie, sad to say but that land on the other side is Native Land and they have the right to protest just like everyone else.If it is a inconvenience then just drive around. I find it inconvenient when they have these races here in the County by blocking roads. No one hardly complains about that, cause it brings Tourists here. Do you see anyone complain when the Public sector goes on strike OR ANYONE ELSE, but when issues that Natives have they are always criticized. They are always given the back burner not only by some locals but by the crooked Harper Goverment. Issues about-land, missing Native Women and other issues. If you were white the Government would have no problem looking for you or helping.People don’t know that most of the issues the Natives are fighting against, they are doing it for you also. IF SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE SO MUCH NEGATIVITY AGAINST NATIVES WHY DO THEY GO TO THE RESERVE TO GET CHEAPER GAS AND CIGARETTES. SOME COMPLAIN THAT THEY HAVE BAND CARDS AND GAS CARDS, WELL THEY DESERVE TO HAVE THEM, EVERY THING ELSE WAS TAKEN FROM THEM BY OUR CROOKED GOVERNMENT.IF ANY WHITE MAN HAD THE CHANCE TO OBTAIN ONE OF THESE CARDS THEY WOULD BE THE FIRST TO GRAB ONE.THE PROBLEM WITH SOME PEOPLE IS GREED AND JEALOUSY. A LOT OF PEOPLE NEED TO BE EDUCATED FROM KINDERGARTEN UP, STARTING WITH OUR GOVERNMENT.I AM FAR FROM BEING NATIVE BUT I STAND BEHIND THOSE THAT ARE.AT LEAST THE NATIVES HAVE THE NERVE TO STAND UP FOR WHAT THEY BELIEVE IN, MORE THAN WHAT I CAN SAY FOR THE REST OF US. THE NEXT BLOCKING OF THE BRIDGE, I WILL BE THERE SUPPORTING THE NATIVES!!!!!!!!

  31. Marnie says:

    I don’t know about that Wolfe. They allow them to block bridges and cause major inconveniences to a lot of people. That has to be progress.

  32. Wolf Braun says:

    Jack Smith: “If you go on the B.C. Metis Federation you will see how he treated the Natives.”

    Two hundred years later our politicians are still not doing any better. 🙁

  33. Jack Smith says:

    Everyone is worried where they are going to put that statue of Sir John A. MacDonald. The bottom of the Picton Bay would be good.If you go on the B.C. Metis Federation you will see how he treated the Natives. In it they describe John A. MacDonald as a procrastinating drunk with the nickname of Old Tomorrow. Also in Dec. 1869 he referred to the Metis as “miserable half breeds” and a few weeks later as “wild people” When the railroad was going to go through one rude comment by him was the Natives will be all dead in ten years.He starved some of the Natives. It would be worth reading the the rest of the story. Just go to B.C. Metis Federation and it will tell it all. I don’t think any Natives will be attending the ceremony nor will I. They could of spent the money a lot more wisely than wasting it on a statue of someone who was prejudice towards the Aboriginal People!!!!

  34. Old Local says:

    Ya can’t beat a dead horse !

  35. I think we should have a statue of the dead horse Macdonald put in the pulpit at the Methodist Church.

  36. Paul says:

    Celebrating political figures with statues in my opinion may not be the best way to memorialize them. Maybe history books are best, yes Sir John A McDonald was one of the Fathers of Confederation and played a huge part in the Trans-Canadian railroad but lets not forget Sir John A McDonald’s Government also implemented the Aboriginal Residential School system and the Chinese Head Tax. Things that recent Governments had to apologize for.

  37. Marnie says:

    Oh I get it Richman. I respect history just as much as you do but we cannot preserve everything. If we try to do this we might as well live in a museum. It would be more to our credit if we were to recognize a few of our present-day citizens who are this side of the grass.

  38. R.Richman says:

    Marnie it is quite clear you do not get it, end of discussion

  39. Gary says:

    I am much more concerned about every family having adequate food on the table and being able to pay for heat, hydro and absurd water charges before one red cent goes to Macdonald!

  40. Marnie says:

    We will soon have an impressive statue and an historical plaque was erected for Sir John a long time ago. I think he is well-remembered in Picton. The safe was just a safe.

  41. R.Richman says:

    Marnie I do not expect anyone would get any type of experience standing in the spot where a famous person once stood walked or worked, but I can not believe that one would not get a humbling feeling in such situations. All that had to be done back when this building was razed was to remove the safe and front wall and place it in a museum reconstructed. Image now a bronze statue of Sir John A walking out of that safe, that is history that you can view.A I also spent time in that building prior to demolistion and it was not in bad shape.

  42. Marnie says:

    R. Richman as a teenager I once worked in the building that was the law office of Sir John A. Believe me they did it a favour when they tore it down. It needed major work and was not about to get it. I sometimes stood by that very safe that you mention and did not have a religious experience.

  43. R.Richman says:

    It is persons such as Mr. Globe with their way of thinking that gives Canada so few historic sites and heros.I observe on US television whenever you see into a US class room chances are that you are going to see lined along the top of a wall all the US presidents lined in order or a least a picture of the current president. I would bet that in any class room in Canada it would be difficult to find the picture of one PM. Ask most Canadian kids who the first let alone the present PM is and see how many know. Mr Globe history is important, it is worth sacrifice. A country needs to be able to look back to enable it to move forward

  44. Ken Globe says:

    So going by R. Richman’s first post. I guess we should designate every alley in downtown Picton historic too because the odds were good that Sir John A. might have taken a leak in one of them after a night in one of the taverns. I can only imagine the bedlam town hill would be on a weekend in the summer if that turning lane had not been put in.

  45. Barbara Wallace says:

    The courthouse makes sense but not many people will see it there.

  46. L Young says:

    What a shame to learn that Sir John A Macdonald’s law office was demolished! Very sad to have such a historic site lost. I heard on a radio talk show last week that a Scot living in Canada had visited Sir John’s birthplace on a visit back to Scotland. There was no plaque or anything to commemorate it. When he told people, they had no idea that it was his birthplace. The building was not maintained well, unless something has been done since then. I haven’t been able to find if anything has been put in place.

  47. R.Richman says:

    The proper place for the statue is at the court house where he practiced law.

  48. Paul Wallace says:

    This statue is wonderful and will be a great focal point for Picton’s downtown area. I don’t know if they are still planning to put it in front of the Armory Building but if so, there needs to be a tremendous rework of this area to do the statue justice. This courtyard area could be made beautiful and could be a centerpiece of our downtown.

  49. R.Richman says:

    I do no consider Kim Campbell a PM. To me she was just a fill in for a party in turmoil.After her short short term as a PM she was rewarded nicely with plum appointments.

  50. R.Richman says:

    A foot note for all the people who have moved here and now call themselves county people. When you drive up the town hill in Picton and make a right at the top of the hill you are driving over the site of John A’s law office. In the early 70’s someone thought that a turning lane was more important that a historic site and tore the building down. The office was on the top floor of a two story building.In latter years it housed the dentist office for Dick Evans and as you walked into the dentist office on the left was a walk in safe that was used by John A. Maybe the editor could find some pictures of the building and post.

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