Holding Court

Deputation and Comments to PEC Council, November 26, 2019

On November 26, 2019, PEC Council received a deputation from Paul Allen and comments from four members of the audience requesting that the County defer the re-installation of the statue of Macdonald “Holding Court” on Picton Main Street until there’s been an opportunity for residents to learn of this pending change in our common space and to share their perspectives with Council.

A recording of the deputation and comments is available on the County’s corporate website. Councillors Roberts, McNaughton, and Margetson had comments and questions for Mr. Allen. Councillors Roberts and McNaughton, and Mayor Ferguson, had comments and questions for Ms. Hart. For ease of reference:

PresenterStart TimeEnd TimeDocuments
Paul Allen1:32:401:58:56Transcription
Angela Lammes2:11:022:11:41Transcription
Annette McIntosh2:11:482:13:56Transcription
Carlin Thompson2:14:092:15:27Transcription
Sharon Hart2:15:462:22:23Transcription

The Resurrection of “Holding Court”

On December 23, 2019, Prince Edward County resurrected the statue of John A. Macdonald “Holding Court” on Picton Main Street. I happened to be walking by at the time.

The resurrection of “Holding Court” on Picton Main Street, December 23, 2019.

In an interview with The Picton Gazette, published to coincide with the statue’s resurrection, Mayor Ferguson announced that the municipality will be asking for public feedback on the statue in early 2020. “We want to hear ideas about ways we can recognize our first Prime Minister’s complex legacy. I am hopeful that this consultation together with the Library’s speaker series will help our community think more deeply about the process of reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.”

I regret that Prince Edward County has decided against seeking public feedback before resurrecting “Holding Court” on Picton Main Street. I worry that no amount of interest in people’s opinions after the fact will make up for an apparent lack of interest beforehand.

I Am Your People, We Are Our People

On November 12, 2019, Dr. Niiganwewidam Sinclair spoke to a large gathering at St. Mary Magdalene United Church in Picton, Ontario on “The Memorialization of Sir John A. Macdonald.” Dr. Sinclair spoke for about an hour and answered questions from the audience for another half hour.

Dr. Sinclair has kindly agreed to our publishing and transcribing an audio clip from his Q & A.

The Macdonald Project

The installation of Macdonald “Holding Court” on Picton Main Street on July 1, 2015 marked the two hundredth anniversary of John A. Macdonald’s birth. “Holding Court” was the culmination of five years effort of a group of local residents called Macdonald Project of Prince Edward County. Council’s decision about what to do with “Holding Court” in 2019-20, should recognize that the Macdonald Project has never acknowledged Macdonald’s part in cultural genocide committed against Indigenous peoples.

Resources

There are some excellent current, sustained treatments of truth and reconciliation in the popular and academic press.

Prince Edward County accepted the statue of Macdonald Holding Court as a public art donation from The Macdonald Project, according to terms and conditions set out in By-law 3587-2015.

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