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Unveiling of John A. Macdonald sculpture announced

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

Sir John A. Macdonald ‘Holding Court’ , sculpted by Ruth Abernathy, is to be unveiled downtown Picton on Canada Day

The Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County announced the much anticipated unveiling of Canada’s 10th public sculpture of Sir John A. Macdonald will take place in front of the Armoury in historic downtown Picton, July 1st at 2 p.m. as part of the official Canada Day festivities.

“It’s party time in the County from 11 a.m. to closing time,” said David Warrick, chairman of the Macdonald Project.

The year 2015 not only marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Canada’s first prime minister but also the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag.  In two years, all Canadians will celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

“This sculpture will remind Canadians that the principal architect of Canada and the nation’s first prime minister began his career in law and public administration in Picton.  He rose from humble beginnings as the son of an immigrant shopkeeper and miller in the Quinte region to become the principal architect of Canada and the nation’s first prime minister.”

At the dedication ceremony at 2 p.m., the Prince Edward County Pipes and Drums will begin the event with a march down Main Street followed by the singing of O Canada.

Patrice Dutil, one of Canada’s leading authorities on Macdonald and president of the Champlain Society of Canada, will act as master of ceremonies for the dedication ceremony.  Award-winning actor, R.H. Thomson will re-enact one of the most famous speeches in Canadian history: Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s famous speech to the House of Commons celebrating the life of Macdonald.

Brian Porter, playing Sir John A. Macdonald, will remember the good old days in the County and with his wife, Agnes, he’ll be available for photo ops as they stroll down Main Street.

Mayor Quaiff will join Ruth Abernethy and David Warrick in unveiling the sculpture followed by the symbolic acceptance of the gift of the sculpture on behalf of the County of Prince Edward. He will then cut a birthday cake followed by the singing of Happy Birthday.

To acknowledge Macdonald’s central role in building the CPR railway and in uniting Canadians coast to coast, the Regent Theatre will open its doors to two free showings of Stephen Low’s spectacular IMAX formatted film Rocky Mountain Express at 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Each showing will last one hour.

In addition to the Macdonald activities, the Picton Canada Day Committee, led by members of the Picton Business Improvement Association, Picton Recreation Committee, Picton Legion, Eph*ra Event Design, Come Alive Outside Program and Emmanuel Baptist Church will be offering a full lineup of July1st celebrations – everything from sidewalk sales and entertainment to a free kids’ carnival at Benson Park.

“It is only fitting that this sculpture be located in the heart of historic downtown Picton where people meet and greet one another,” Warrick said. “Macdonald began his career in law and public administration there as a teenager.   He actually became an attorney in Picton and practiced law here before moving to Kingston – something we discovered only recently.  He also volunteered as secretary for the first school board, the agricultural society and the young men’s association. These civic groups met, interestingly enough, in the popular Hopkin’s Tavern across the street from the Armoury at the corner of Ross and Main.

The sculpture will be unveiled in front of the Armoury built for the Prince Edward Militia in 1914.  Sir John A. Macdonald had a close connection with the early militias as a soldier and  legal counsel after the 1837 rebellion.  He also played a vital role in Canada’s defence as Minister of Militia.  Many soldiers from the Prince Edward Regiment known later as the Hasty Ps paid the ultimate price for freedom when they helped liberate Holland from Nazi oppression 70 years ago this month in May 1945.

“Ask members of the Royal Canadian Legion across Canada what this date means to them and then ask anyone of Dutch ancestry what these soldiers mean to them.”

Picton retired Justice George Inrig  says the location is appropriate.

“I support the installation of the work in front of the Armoury built for this proud and much decorated regiment.  It’s part of our history.”

Meanwhile, the Museums of Prince Edward County present ‘Always a Quinte Boy’, a new temporary exhibit on John A. Macdonald at Macaulay Heritage Park, focusing the connections that John A. Macdonald had with Prince Edward County throughout his life.
Macaulay Heritage Park is at 23 & 35 Church Street, Picton. For details, call 613-476-2148 ext.258 or email


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