Canada removes statue of controversial Jacobite slaying general

A worker prepares to remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis. Picture: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP
A worker prepares to remove the statue of Edward Cornwallis. Picture: Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press via AP
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A statue of an 18th century British military officer who played a key role during the Jacobite Rebellion has been removed from its pedestal in Canada.

The statue depicting Lieutenant General Edward Cornwallis had stood in Cornwallis Square, Halifax, Nova Scotia since 1931 but was removed on Wednesday.

In 1749 London-born military man led a 2500-strong settlement expedition to Nova Scotia where he was tasked with founding its capital, Halifax.

That same year Cornwallis ordered handsome rewards to anyone who killed indigenous Mi’kmaq people in retaliation to an attack on a British sawmill.

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It is claimed that he was responsible for the scalping of hundreds of indigenous Mi’kmaw women and children in the years that followed the town’s founding.

Campaigners say his actions should be regarded as genocide and that all memorials to Cornwallis should be erased.

Recent years have witnessed the statue being vandalised on a number of occasions, the most common attack using red paint to symbolise blood on Cornwallis’ hands.

Prior to crossing the Atlantic Cornwallis commanded Hanoverian forces during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and led a campaign that aimed to stamp out Highland resistance by any means necessary.

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The Duke of Cumberland ordered Cornwallis to “plunder, burn and destroy through all the west part of Invernesshire called Lochaber.”

On Tuesday, Halifax regional council voted 12-4 to temporarily remove the statue. Cornwallis’ name is also present in the park where the statue was sited and in a nearby street.

The Cornwallis statue has been moved into storage with a view to relocating it elsewhere.

The removal of the Cornwallis statue echoes similar recent incidents in the USA which have seen the removal and destruction of statues depicting controversial Confederate figures.