It seems inevitable given the forces of historical reckoning sweeping the world in recent days that Sir John A. Macdonald’s days of “Holding Court” on Main Street in Picton are numbered. It’s likely for the best. If his bronze visage causes discomfort to the descendants of his victims, then it may be time to go.
Statues as public monuments are falling out of favour. Humans are flawed, conflicted beings, and very few could boast unassailable legacies. But, for the sake of argument, if we had to replace Sir John with a new statue on Main Street, who should be put on that pedestal?
I suggest that here in the County there’s one obvious candidate: Robert Urich. Yes, TV’s Robert Urich (1946-2002), star of such famous detective shows as ‘Spenser: For Hire’ and ‘Vega$’. He clearly loved coming to his place in West Lake, and made the County his escape before it was ‘hip’ (in fact he liked it so much he’s buried here). He was certainly a well-known sight around here in the 80s and 90s. I myself saw him occasionally at mass at St. Gregory’s Church. I’ve heard many people tell stories about meeting him, and none had anything bad to say. Not once did I hear of Robert Urich committing any kind of historical atrocity. In his later years, Robert Urich and his wife worked to raise money and awareness for arts and theatre causes, as well as cancer research. Again, far better than attempted cultural genocide.
The Sir John A. Macdonald statue is a magnet for tourist photos and playful interaction. Why couldn’t Robert Urich be, too? Who wouldn’t want to take a selfie with cool TV private eye Spenser and pretend he’s taking a lick of your Slickers cone? Who wouldn’t want to stick a Santa Claus hat on a snow-dusted Dan Tanna in December? And while Sir John’s history raises uncomfortable questions, I imagine that Robert Urich’s statue would only raise questions like, “Grandpa, who’s Robert Urich?” (He was big in the 70s and 80s on TV.) and “Why is there a statue of Robert Urich in Picton?” (We used to have a way worse statue.) and “Why a statue of Robert Urich when he lost out the 1978 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in A Television Series Drama to Ed Asner?” (Ed Asner is a treasure, but let another town put up his statue.)
Here we have a tall, good-looking, twice Golden Globe-nominated TV detective who loved the County and didn’t do terrible things. Statue-worthy? Bronze for the win!