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Place Henry Seth Taylor Inaugurated in Stanstead

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medium_fountain.4.jpg--September 9, 2009

Henry Seth Taylor, the Stanstead man who built Canada’s very first car, or horseless carriage, finally has the honour he deserves. This past weekend, the Town of Stanstead inaugurated its new town square, Place Henry Seth Taylor. Up until now, no official recognition had ever been given to the local man who has appeared on both a Canadian coin and a Canadian stamp.

Place Henry Seth Taylor, which is located at the intersection of Dufferin and Railroad Streets in downtown Stanstead (formerly downtown Rock Island), includes a monumental sculpture in local grey granite and three fountains. Walkways radiate outwards from the fountains and paving throughout the park is executed in grey and black granite. There are benches, flowering trees, gardens, and ornamental lampposts.

medium_fountain.1.jpgA plaque located near the sculpture explains the significance of the name Henry Seth Taylor. It reads:

“This park is named after Henry Seth Taylor (1833-1887), a Stanstead native who is credited with building Canada’s first “horseless carriage” or steam car. Taylor, who loved to experiment with machinery, first exhibited his buggy at the Stanstead Fair in 1867, the year of Confederation. Unfortunately, a hose burst and the car broke down in front of an amused crowd. Taylor worked to perfect his “mechanical curiosity,” exhibiting it successfully at the fair the following year. He continued to drive his car around the village and to demonstrate it at events in nearby towns. Eventually, however, a mishap brought the car’s short career to an end. It had not occurred to Taylor to equip the vehicle with brakes and, on a hillside near town, the buggy gained speed and Taylor was forced to jump. The resulting crash may well have been Canada’s first car accident. The badly damaged buggy was returned to Taylor’s barn where it remained, forgotten and rusting, for close to a century. It was rediscovered by a collector in the 1960s and was eventually acquired by the National Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa, where it resides to this day.” Above this text is a photograph of Taylor and his car.

medium_fountain.2.jpgA second text on the plaque gives homage to the granite industry, which has been the staple of the local economy for over a century. This text reads:

“Granite has played a leading role in this community for over a century. To this day, the granite industry is Stanstead’s main employer, and the town is recognized as the “Granite Capital of Canada.” Reflecting granite’s important role in our community are some of Stanstead’s most imposing landmarks. From the “Welcome to Stanstead” sign, to the sculptures and benches around town, granite is visible just about everywhere. And nowhere is this more evident than in our local buildings constructed entirely or partly of granite – Centenary Church; the Haskell Free Library and Opera House; Carrollcroft; the former Eastern Townships Bank (Rock Island); the old Beebe Town Hall; and many others. Stanstead granite has also been used in some of Canada’s most famous buildings. Sun Life in Montreal and Saint-Benoît-du-Lac Abbey are just two examples. The sculpture at the centre of this park, superbly crafted from local granite and surrounded by fountains, is erected in honour of Stanstead’s granite industry.”

The sculpture at the centre of the square, titled “Celestial Tears,” was created in 2007 as part of Stanstead’s annual Granite Symposium. It is the work of Martin Brisson.