Cataraqui Cemetery Board votes against moving Macdonald’s statue


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KINGSTON — The statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that was removed from the city park last year will not go to his grave in Cataraqui Cemetery.

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At a meeting on August 9, the cemetery board voted to no longer support the plan to erect the statue at the national historic site.

In a statement, the cemetery board said moving the statue to Macdonald’s grave was never a done deal and the option to decline was still on the table.

“Private cemetery trustees have always maintained the ability to accept or decline the relocation commitment,” the board said.

“As guardians of the historic but still active cemetery, tcemetery board only came to the conclusion to deny the statue’s move to Cataraqui Cemetery after months of careful consideration whether or not the size and massing of the statue would be suitable for the cemeteryit is natural landscape; whether the statue would or would not be compatible in style and/or size with other family monuments and burial grounds in the area; and what other issues or general impact might the statue present on the nonprofit cemetery and interment rights holders.

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The decision means the city will have to find another location for the statue.

“Today’s update is the first time that staff have been advised that a review by council is underway,” Jennifer Campbell, director of the city’s heritage services, wrote in an e-mail. email to city councilors Thursday afternoon. “As of June 27, staff were in communication with the designated Board representative to coordinate the completion of a site survey, as part of confirmation of the detailed erection/installation plan.”

Sir John A. Macdonald’s grave, located at Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston. Photo by Julia McKay /The Whig-Standard

As recently as May, councilors were informed in a report that consultations between the cemetery council, First Nations and Parks Canada were continuing.

“In response to this new direction from council, staff will begin to review feedback received from previous community consultations and develop an approach to bring to council,” Campbell wrote. “Any approach will likely require additional community consultation.”

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Meadowbrook-Strathcona District County Councilor Jeff McLaren, the only councilman to vote against removing the statue, reiterated his view that the statue should be put back somewhere as part of a larger, more inclusive on Macdonald’s legacy.

The destination of the statue will be a decision for the next group of councilors to be elected in October.

“I propose that this former statue space be used to present the perspectives of the various groups who have been impacted by the legacy of Sir John A. Macdonald,” McLaren wrote in an email to the Whig-Standard. “The city should allow each group to commemorate in a culturally appropriate way.

“Erasing history is never good policy. However, adding perspective is what drives the story forward. This requires respect for the truth. It requires respect for the truth, especially when it is not a truth that one loves,” he added.

“Sir John A. Macdonald has accomplishments worth celebrating and commemorating. His accomplishments are not diminished by his shortcomings.

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