Picton: An Historic Crossroad
Picton was originally settled as two villages linked by a shared harbour and divided by a creek that still exists at the head of the bay. Northwest of the creek was home to the merchants with their stores along Main Street and large homes on the graceful backstreets. This section of the community was known as Hallowell, after Benjamin Hallowell, a former customs clerk in Boston who fled the city during the British evacuation in 1776. To the south-east was Delhi, a hamlet dominated by Reverend William Macaulay, an Anglican minister and landowner. Ultimately, the villages merged in 1837 and Macaulay was successful in his campaign to have the new community named after General Sir Thomas Picton, controversial governor of Trinidad and Wellington’s second-in-command who fought and died at the Battle of Waterloo.
Picton’s streetscapes reflect its proud past with many of its Main Street buildings contributing to the Heritage Conservation District of the downtown core. The dominating skyline of storefronts with detailed architectural flourishes occasionally separated by alleyways dating from the age of horse-drawn carriages, make the street a pleasing pedestrian walk bustling with visitors during the summer season. Picton is Prince Edward County’s town. As the seat of government for Prince Edward County, it houses Municipal Offices, the District Court and Land Registry Office.
Worth a Look
Macaulay Park and Museum (35 Church Street) Macaulay Heritage Park is an attractive historic site featuring many points of interest: Macaulay House, built in 1830 and restored to the mid 1850s; the historic former Church of St. Mary Magdalene, now the Prince Edward County Museum; the old St. Mary Magdalene Parish Cemetery; the Heritage Gardens and the Carriage House. Reverend William Macaulay was originally sent to this area as a missionary. In 1823 he organized the Parish of Hallowell, donating the land for the church and paying for much of its construction from his own personal wealth. Reverend Macaulay’s contributions to the community were not only spiritual, but civic, donating his own property for the construction of both a school and a courthouse. The latter has been in use since 1831. Macaulay was also instrumental in the naming of the town of Picton.
The first prime minister of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, practised law here as a young man in the 1830s. Just a teenager, Macdonald managed the law office of his relative, Lowther P. Macpherson, who was forced to seek medical treatment in England. Macdonald had his first court case in 1834 at the stately courthouse on Union Street that is still used as a courtroom today. More information on The Macdonald Project is available at macdonaldproject.com.
Canning Capital of Canada The area was known as the canning capital of Canada from the late 1880s until the 1960s. Traces of the canning factories remain on the side streets of Picton, and many of the pioneer canners are still remembered by large monuments marking their final resting places at The Glenwood Cemetery, a bucolic Victorian cemetery on Ferguson Street. The Loyalist Parkway, Picton’s main street, offers a wide choice of accommodation, sightseeing and recreation for the whole family along this scenic route stretching from Trenton to Kingston. There are over 40 listed archaeological sites and at least 125 notable heritage buildings adjacent to the Parkway.