Sir John visit highlights anniversary of canal opening

October 21, 2014

The story of the official opening of the Murray Canal in 1889 by Sir John A Macdonald was brought to life through re-enactment – without the official guests’ platform breaking and sinking out of sight, as it had done 125 years ago.
The drop was only about five feet and none who went in the hole were hurt, although there was alarm for the safety of Canada’s first prime minister. ..

View the story here   

"Footprints in the Snow: Controversial Lazier Murder Trial Re-enacted in Picton"

Review of Lazier Trial Re-enactment by Roderick Benns

In the very courtroom where a 19-year-old John A. Macdonald won his first legal victory in 1834, justice may have been denied 50 years later when two young men were hanged for a grisly murder.

In a thrilling re-enactment of the Lazier murder trial which still haunts this tranquil Prince Edward County town, Justice Robert J. Sharpe from the Ontario Court of Appeal presided at the re-enactment of the trial in the same courthouse where the men were tried and hanged more than a century ago ....  View the story here

Re-enactment of the Lazier murder trial of 1884

Friday July 11, 2014
You are invited to a re-enactment of the Lazier murder trial of 1884 at the Picton Courthouse on Friday July 11, 2014.  This will be a costume drama based on the famous double-hanging case that took place at in Picton’s historic courthouse in 1884 performed by lawyers, judges and local actors

Event Times
•    Trial re-enactment 1 to 3 p.m. (arrive at 12:45)
•    Tour of gallows and gaol 3 to 4.
•    Reception at the Waring House 4 to 6.

Click here for tickets

Huff Estates Announces the Release of a Sparkling Wine to Honour the 200th Birthday of Sir John A. Macdonald 

July 1, 2014
Jason Sharpe, General Manager of Huff Estates of Prince Edward County, announced today the release of a new sparkling wine honouring the birthday of Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.  View the story here

We will announce a commemorative sparkling wine on July 1, from Huff Estates.

Sir John A. Macdonald’s Taste for Fine Wine Contrary to popular opinion, Macdonald did not drink spirits exclusively. He actually enjoyed some of the finest winesl...  View the story here

May 19, 2014
New bronze sculpture in Picton will Depict John A. Macdonald as Young Lawyer

View the story here

January 11, 2014
Four Unveilings of the Macdonald Bust in Celebration of Sir John A. Macdonald's 199th Birthday

View the story here

December 11, 2013
Brochure Update

View it here. This brochure gives background on the project and tells readers how to donate. It's more user friendly than before.

May 8, 2013
Witness the Grand Unveiling of John A. Macdonald Bust at Regent Theatre

Picton Gazette (news story, editorial May 30, 2013)
Wellington Times
Kingston Whig Standard

Picton -- The Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County is pleased to announce that Ruth Abernethy, Canada's foremost bronze portrait artist, will unveil a bronze bust of John A. Macdonald in Picton's Regent Theatre on Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Abernethy will deliver an entertaining PowerPoint presentation entitled “Face 2 Face with John A.” followed by the climactic unveiling of the Macdonald bust. The bust is the first stage in the commission to create a larger-than-life sculpture of Canada's first prime minister for the Bicentennial of his birth in 2015. Abernethy's design will depict a nineteen-year-old Macdonald presenting his first court case in the Picton Courthouse in 1834. He won that case and four months later became an attorney while still working in a law office in Picton. John A. Macdonald called the Quinte region and Prince Edward County his home for about eleven years. The story of his connection with Prince Edward and the Quinte region can be found online here Abernethy's Holding Court will be the tenth known public sculpture of Macdonald across Canada and will represents him “coming of age” in Picton at the beginning a long and distinguished career. The sculpture will be located in a public meeting place in front of the Armoury as part of plans to help revitalize historic downtown Picton.

November 20, 2012
Macdonald Project Team Announces Launch of Abernethy Bronze Sculpture of John A. Macdonald, Quinte Boy

Ruth Abernethy at the Regent Theatre

Ruth Abernathy Picton, Ontario, November 20: The Steering Committee of the Macdonald Project signed an agreement today with Ruth Abernethy that launches the Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County.

"We are extremely pleased that the project is moving forward, said David Warrick, Chair of the Steering Committee. "It's taken two years to reach this point. We've been actively researching the often forgotten period in Macdonald's life when he affectionately called the Bay of Quinte his home for about eleven years."

As a teenager, Macdonald began his career in law and public administration in the town of Picton near his family. He contributed to civic life in this small community in Upper Canada and here "came of age."

"We are absolutely delighted that renowned bronze sculptor, Ruth Abernethy, famous for Oscar Peterson, Glenn Gould and Al Waxman, has accepted our invitation to create this bronze portrait," said Warrick.

The Macdonald bronze work will be both a national monument and an interactive artwork that will allow visitors to experience John A. Macdonald at street level at a pivotal point in his career. This young lawyer will be positioned at the centre of the town, where he first practiced law. It will be a place where history, art, culture and commerce all meet in this lively and accessible gathering place.

Abernethy's artwork is intended to be part of a new heritage economy that will generate interest in the history of Prince Edward County and the Quinte Region. It will also help to revitalize historic downtown Picton.

Abernethy will recreate a scene from Sir John A. Macdonald's first trial before a  jury in Picton. The work will be entitled Holding Court. The sculpture will be part of the nation-wide celebration of the Bicentennial of the birth of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister in 2015. It will also help to promote the Sesquicentennial of Canada itself in 2017.

Abernethy will begin sculpting the head on the first phase within the next few weeks and then deliver a talk on the project at the 13th Annual Sir John A. Macdonald Dinner at the Royal Military College in Kingston on January 11, 2013. The subject of the talk will be "Face to Face with Sir John A."

"This is just the beginning," said Warrick. "We need the support of the community to help in fundraising." We have raised the deposit but need $160,000 for the artist's fee excluding taxes, site preparation and jury seats." We hope that the revenue generated from marketing our heritage will help to boost the local economy and preserve important buildings that are threatened."

"We thank all of our partners including the County Community Foundation and the municipality of Prince Edward."

If you would like to assist in preserving and revitalizing historic Picton, please send your cheque today payable to County Community Foundation - Macdonald Project
County Community Foundation
Suite 103, 280 Main St.
Picton ON K0K 2T0

All donations are welcome from $50 up. We need your support.

To donate online, please go to All donations are eligible for tax receipts. Registered Charity Number: 843496290RR0001

David Warrick on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Macdonald Bicentennial Project. Telephone: (613) 471-1238, or (416) 231 6179

November 17, 2012
A birthday present fit for a Father of Confederation

David Frum on John A. Macdonald's bicentenary

click here for article

October 15, 2012
Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission (Kingston) Newsletter

Tribute to the "Man Who Made Us"

click here for article

June, 2012
Artist's Preferred Site for Macdonald Sculpture

artists rendition

Thoughts on a site for the John Macdonald portrait:

The Court House took early focus in the search for a portrait site because of the historical link with John A Macdonald, but my opinion is that this pre-imminent landmark would be diminished by the installation. Set on spacious grounds, this beautifully balanced building is usually viewed from the street and has only mature trees in proximity. The scale of the building has great architectural presence. A life-size figure portrait, particularly one intended to attract guests, however, creates visual rivalry and reduces the Court House to a backdrop. Although the site contains parking, I suggest that tourist traffic, particularly bus tours, might be inappropriately layered over legal proceedings in this active court of law.

The intent in bringing 'young John' to Picton's streetscape was to re-introduce residents and guests to this locally rooted statesman and his legacy. Main Street to the Court House is a lovely walk on a summer's day, but street inclines and inclement weather would challenge anyone and exclude handicapped persons, or those hoping to make just one stop in town. New and life-long Canadians will be attracted to the portrait on the Court House lawn, but placing John in the centre of town and daily routines creates an encounter with Canadian history that is up close and very personal. 'Holding Court' in the town centre is an immediate meeting place for dinner or theatre, for a peek at a library book, a summer coffee date or a moment's pause waiting for friends from the shops.

The proposed renovation to the Victory building (Library and Archives Collections) is a positive step for the redevelopment of downtown Picton. I admire this handsome concept. With Benson Park access and washrooms, and possibly additional parking on King Street, it could play a vital role in co-hosting a town square. Set back from the street, this small square can keep its focus on the museum and archival collection on the north side of Main Street. But it requires an open inviting space, rather than somewhat restricted access--as is presently the case.

It seems proactive, therefore, to improve public usage by positioning John and the Jury Benches on the opposite side of the street on the larger Armoury plot in an inviting public space. Perhaps the relocation of the crosswalk nearby could connect the two sides of the street in this centre of town.

Afternoon sun from the west ensures the portrait will not fall into shadow for the busiest part of the day. After-hours lighting is planned, but personal photographs will be taken constantly. A majority of auto traffic enters Picton moving eastbound and this lane would be closest to the Armoury location for viewing the portrait by car. The Regent Theatre, Armoury and Picton Library façades are distinct, intriguing and authentic in the background. Picton offers eclectic and varied shopping to visitors and a full range of public amenities. The Armoury site would help to attract visitors to the downtown to improve business opportunities for all. It's important to note that if ever there was a people person, it was John A Macdonald! Young John, as a student of law and aspiring community leader, would be in his element among theatergoers, readers, newcomers and merchants in or near a busy Town Square. He would also understand the importance of remembering this country's rich history and enduring institutions. He would be the first to direct tours to the Court House and Gaol, the Prince Edward County Museum and his old friend, Reverend Macaulay's house and estate.

His presence in the center of town next to jury benches will be endlessly interactive and of direct service to the community if he is located at the heart of historic Picton and Prince Edward County! Congratulations to everyone, for constructive dialogue toward this resolution.

Ruth Abernethy

June 06, 2012
John A. Macdonald's Early Life on the Bay of Quinte and in Prince Edward County 1824-1835

Address to the Cataraqui Commemoration Ceremony
David Warrick

click here for article

June 13, 2012
County Efforts to Honour Sir John Highlight Commemorative Ceremony

click here for article

November 10, 2011
Friends of Macdonald Cocktail Party

artists renditionOn a cross country tour to celebrate his just published Volume 2 of John A. Macdonald, Richard spent two days in Picton on November 9 and 10. As part of our campaign to give recognition to Canada's First Prime Minister as a 'Quinte Boy', Richard was speaker at Women around Noon at Books and Co. and later guest of honour at a cocktail party at 2 Hill Street in Picton. He also took time to visit the Picton Court House where John A. Macdonald presented his first court case before a jury in October 1834. Macdonald won this first court case when he was only 19 and a student of law.

Richard spoke about his Nation Maker: His Life, Our Times, which has been nominated for several non-fiction prizes. The second volume, published by Random-House in September, 2011, covers Macdonald's eventful term in office as Prime Minister.

Canadian historian, Michael Bliss, wrote "In a tour de force of research, he has mastered the sources, weaves them beautifully into the text, and presents to us a more lifelike, more credible, Macdonald."

Oxford historian Margaret MacMillan wrote: "Writing with his usual elegance and insight, Richard Gwyn has done full justice to the man whose own story is woven inextricably with that of Canada."

July 13, 2011
Site Selection For John A. Macdonald Sculpture


On August 9, 2011, from 7 to 9 p.m., the public is invited to an open house in the Town Hall above the Fire Hall on Ross Street to discuss the best location for the John A. Macdonald bronze sculpture in Picton.

The meeting will be hosted by the Steering Committee of the Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County, Ontario.

The meeting will examine the merits of each of five short-listed sites in Picton.

1. Court House
2. Town Hill
3. Shire Hall
4. Armoury
5. Archives and Collections Society (The Victory)/Benson Park

The life-sized bronze portrait of the nineteen year old John A. Macdonald is meant to celebrate his first trial in Picton in the Court of Quarterly Sessions in October 1834. This event is significant in the history of Canada. It will be unveiled on the bicentenary of Macdonald's birth in 2015.

Internationally acclaimed sculptor Ruth Abernethy will complete the portrait in time for the unveiling in 2015. 
The design depicts the youthful Macdonald arguing his first recorded court case in the Picton Court House in 1834 standing beside the prisoner's dock before an imaginary jury represented by bronze benches.

The benefits of this Macdonald bronze sculpture for Picton are noteworthy:

• It will be an important tourist attraction and promote business and heritage interests
• It will create a new public meeting place in a prominent place in Picton 
• It will honour our most famous former resident and the first Prime Minister of Canada 
• It will be a place for historical and artistic presentations for school children, residents and visitors 
• It will recognize the historical significance of Prince Edward County and establish a heritage theme for the continued redevelopment of historic downtown Picton.
• It will create an iconic image for all County interests

The artist will propose an art form for the installation based on the historical event. The portrait will be located in a town square called the Macdonald Square. It is meant to be a magnet for tourists and visitors. It will be a meeting place for many events including walking tours and presentations.

Each site will require its own agreement based on a mutually agreed upon terms. In some cases, this agreement may take the form of a lease; in others cases, full ownership may be required.

The Steering Committee will use the following Four Site Selection Criteria when comparing the site options. The preferred site should be

• Historically significant in a Canadian context 
• Desirable as a meeting place 
• Accessible and attractive to pedestrians 
• Suitable for educational/cultural presentations

The Five Sites

Site One: Court House

Court House

Site Two: Town Hill

Town Hill

Site Three: Shire Hall

Shire Hall

Site Four: The Armoury

The Armoury

Site Five: Archives and Collections Society/Benson Park

Archives Society

Here is a proposed compatibility matrix for the John A. Macdonald Bronze and Macdonald Square. Information will be entered for each item. The information for each site will then be evaluated using the four main criteria listed in the introduction.

Quantitative Rating: 5 Favourable to 1 Unfavourable

Matrix for Site Selection

(quantitative and qualitative)

Analysis of Existing Facilities:

1. Site ownership: 
2. Interest by owner: 
3. Nature of proposed partnership: 
4. Site measurements: 
5. Compatibility with PEC policy: 
6. Compatibility with Canadian history:
7. Sightlines: Visible from Union, Pitt and Portland Streets. 
8. Proximity to businesses
9. Proximity to educational facilities: 
10. Proximity to PEC heritage facilities: 
11. Pedestrian traffic count: 
12. Vehicular count: 
13. Noise level (measurement):
14. Parking: 
15. Washrooms:

Impact on Picton in this Location:

1.     Visual Enhancements:
2.     Cultural Benefits:
3.     Business Benefits:
4.     Heritage Benefits:
5.     Conflicts:
6.     Potential for Vandalism and Loitering:

 Projected Requirements:

1. Infrastructure: 
2. Theme-related signage for historic Picton and PEC: 
3. Maintenance: 
4. Repairs: 
5. Insurance: 
6. Pedestrian access: 
7. Meeting place requirements: 
8. Parking: 
9. Washrooms:
10.Site Preparation:

April 4, 2011
Macdonald Lecture Starts New Season at Restored Regent

The Glenwood Cemetery will launch its 2011 Heritage Lecture Series in the newly renovated Regent Theatre with a special lecture on John A. Macdonald's first recorded trial in Picton and the significance of the trial in the history of Canada.

Professor David Warrick, Ph.D. will be the guest lecturer. Professor Warrick is the Chair of the recently formed Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County.

The aim of this project is to erect a bronze sculpture in Picton of the young John A. Macdonald as he would have looked standing before a jury facing a charge of assault in the Picton Court House in October 1834.

Come and learn what happened in the trial and how the teenage John A.--the future first Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada--began his full time career in law, public administration and politics that was to last until his death in 1891. Learn about this little known colourful chapter in Macdonald's astonishing 61 year career and the risks he ran even at an early age.

John A. was only 18 and still a law student when he took over the well-established law practice of his ailing cousin, Lowther Pennington Macpherson. John A. was known for his keen mind and studious nature, but he was also known as a prankster. One day, one of those mischievous pranks triggered a confrontation with one of the leading citizens of the day, Dr. Thomas Moore. What followed has been the subject of many dinner conversations over the years. Come and learn about the prank and what really happened to Moore and Macdonald and how their careers were affected.

"We will have two very special guests in the audience for the event. They are delighted to attend the event and meet County people" Warrick said. "We hope that afterward we can continue our important conversation about remembering our very rich County and Canadian history."

johnaYou will learn about how John A.'s relationship with the County lasted his entire life. In his own words, "He never forgot the good old County."
It was home to him for many years.

The Macdonald lecture will take place at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 20th at The Regent. Tickets are $19 and $17 for Regent members.

The lecture is another in the series of heritage lectures sponsored by The Glenwood Cemetery with funding provided by The Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Contact The Regent Theatre at 613 - 476 - 8416 ext.28 or visit their website at for more information.

Jan. 11, 2011
Sir John A Macdonald Deserves a Proper Toast

Jan. 11, 2011
SIR JOHN EH! DAY at the Waring House

Celebrate the life of Canada's father of confederation in the Barley Room with fireworks, a confederation menu, and stories about Sir John A. Macdonald. The fun starts at 6:00 pm. Telephone: 613-476-7492

Endorsements for Macdonald Project

Revitalization must include collaboration of many viewpoints.
Unanimous support for Picton statue.

Renowned Macdonald biographer visits Picton

Click Here to read the article.

Letter of Invitation for Kickoff Reception
August, 28, 2010

As you may have heard, a group of County residents in partnership with the Prince Edward County Community Foundation, the Picton Business Improvement Association, Streetsmarts and the Prince Edward Historical Society, has initiated a project to recognize and celebrate the connection between Canada's first Prime Minister and Prince Edward County.

John A. Macdonald, who shaped the Canada we know today, began his first law practice in Hallowell/Picton in 1833 and prepared cases at the new Court House in the Quarterly Sessions of 1834 when he was only nineteen. He won his first official court case there in October of that year. Few people realize that John A. called the Bay of Quinte and Prince Edward County his home for eleven years. He always said that at heart he was a Quinte Boy.

Ruth Abernethy, an internationally renowned sculptor, has been engaged to create a bronze statue of John A. as a young lawyer standing at the witness box in the Picton Court House. Her bronze statue of Oscar Peterson was recently unveiled by the Queen at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. She is also noted for her outstanding human scale bronze statues of Glenn Gould, Ian Millar and Big Ben, William Lyon Mackenzie King, Norman Bethune and Arnold Palmer. These are not works resting on pedestals but rather interactive life-sized pieces that engage the public and make history come alive.

This public sculpture project will help promote the history and culture of Prince Edward County. There are several unique aspects:

  • It will be an important tourist attraction
  • It will create a new public park space in a prominent place in Picton
  • It will honour our most famous former resident and the first Prime Minister of Canada
  • It will be a place for historical and artistic presentations for school children, residents and visitors
  • It will recognize the historical significance of Prince Edward County and establish a heritage theme for the continued redevelopment of downtown Picton.

We invite you to come to meet Ruth Abernethy and the Steering Committee to hear more about this exciting venture. The Macdonald Project will be formally launched at the historic Red Courtyard Barns at Glenora on Saturday, August 28th, 2010, 5 to 7 p.m. The guest of honour, Ruth Abernethy, will speak about the project and her work. We invite you to join us as we kick-off the fundraising campaign to begin the project. Space is limited and by invitation only, so attendance should be confirmed by not later than August 16th.

Macdonald Project a Celebration of History

Visit to read the article.

The Play

Please download the play "The Highspirited Crossing of 1848" and enjoy!