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New statue unveiled in Picton to honour Sir John A. Macdonald

A new sculpture depicting Macdonald as a young, teenage lawyer has been unveiled in Picton, Ontario.

Daryl Kramp, Member of Parliament for Prince Edward-Hastings, took part in the unveiling of a bronze statue of Macdonald that depicts him at the beginning of his career.

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.

“I am very pleased to see this project initiated by the community where Sir John A. Macdonald spent an early part of his career honing his skills as a lawyer,” says Kramp. “I applaud the objective of the Macdonald Project, which is to shine a light on the early life of a man who, through hard work, determination and genuine affection for people, rose to become Canada’s first prime minister.”

Historians believe Macdonald 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 David Warrick, the chair of the steering committee of the Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County, 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, created by Ruth Abernethy, 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.

Warrick notes the sculpture “will remind Canadians that 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,” Warrick says.

Quick Facts

  • Sir John A. Macdonald lived in the Bay of Quinte region and Prince Edward County for about 11 years and began his law practice there.
  • The sculpture is located in Picton’s historic downtown. It depicts Sir John A. Macdonald as he would have appeared presenting and winning his first court case before a judge and jury in the Picton Courthouse on Oct. 8, 1834.
  • The Macdonald Project will develop educational materials to accompany the statue. Walking tours will also be planned, and new media will be used to promote the project.


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