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New bronze sculpture in Picton will Depict John A. Macdonald as Young Lawyer



Canada’s tenth bronze portrait of John A. Macdonald is finally nearing completion after four years.

According to David Warrick, the chair of the steering committee of the Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County “we are working diligently to deliver the sculpture to Picton and the Quinte region for an unveiling in time to mark the bicentennial of Macdonald’s birth in 2015.”

“Soon Canadians will learn of John A. Macdonald’s close connection with Prince Edward County and the Quinte region.”

The bronze work entitled Holding Court may prove to be Ruth Abernethy’s finest sculpture, according to Warrick. “It’s outstanding in every way.”

The sculpture will be the first one to depict Canada’s first leader as a young teenage lawyer.

“Ruth Abernethy has captured the symbolic moment when Macdonald came of age, began his career in law and demonstrated, like George Washington, exceptional leadership qualities at an early age.”

Macdonald called the Quinte region his home for 11 years, living in Hay Bay, Napanee, Glenora and Picton before moving finally to Kingston in 1835.  John A.’s family and cousins lived in the region. He travelled constantly but his family home was a small clapboard house on Hay Bay near Adolphustown followed some years later in the Miller’s House at the Stone Mills of Glenora, where his father was a miller and magistrate.  He probably stayed with his cousins, the Macphersons, in Picton during the two years he lived here. But he spent a great deal of time with his family Hugh, Helen, Margaret and Louisa at Glenora, below Lake on the Mountain. He said later that these were the happiest days of his life.

According to Warrick, the young Macdonald was already displaying leadership qualities and civic mindedness, even in his teenage years. Macdonald volunteered as secretary of the first public school board, organized a young men’s debating society, volunteered as a polling clerk for the election of the 12th legislature of Upper Canada in the Picton Courthouse in 1834, and he signed a petition to rename Hallowell (which later became Picton.)

The sculpture captures a moment in time when Macdonald appeared in court for the first time before a judge and jury in Picton, Upper Canada in 1834.  He won the trial and four months later became an attorney while still living in Picton.

He was 19 at the time he presented his first court case in 1834 and quite mischievous as many local residents still recall, according to Warrick. He also notes this was the period three years before the Rebellion of 1837 and 19 years after the end of the War of 1812.

On to Kingston

One day during the summer of 1834, Macdonald heard of the tragic death of his former employer, George Mackenzie, during a cholera epidemic. Macdonald realized that greater opportunities lay ahead in Kingston. He was only 20 when he received a letter from the Law Society of Upper Canada that would allow him to practice as an attorney and so, in spite of the fact that the leading citizens of Picton offered him one hundred pounds to stay, John moved to Kingston in the summer of 1835 to open his own law practice.

There he practised law for several months before he was admitted to the bar. At 21 he was participating even more fully in civic life. He joined many organizations there and made a reputation as a dedicated young lawyer and community leader.

Warrick says the committee has raised $120,000 of the $180,000 needed to deliver the bronze sculpture to downtown Picton. But he notes that without donations from fans of John A. Macdonald, the work may not be completed on time. All donations are welcome and are eligible for a tax receipt. Donate here to the Macdonald Project.



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