On Saturday, Manchester’s eldest male resident, Gordon MacDougal, 99, arrived at the Manchester Historical Museum to begin a new tradition: to deliver the Boston Post Cane that he was awarded in August to its new home at the museum.
Historically, the cane—a gold finialled crafted piece that began as part of a state-wide tradition 113 years ago—was a symbol honoring the eldest male in every local municipality in the Commonwealth. Every town customized its own way of presenting the cane. Since the tradition began, it was the Manchester Elder Brethren that has been the keeper and awarder of the Boston Post Cane, which has been a valued rite of passage for Manchester’s eldest male resident for years and a feature of the fraternal club’s annual chowder picnic at Tucks Point. Earlier this year, the club and the MBTS Board of Selectmen worked together to change tradition, move the actual cane to the Manchester Historical Museum and present it to the eldest resident—male or female—every year. The Elder Brethren will continue its tradition, but with another decorated mahogany cane for the oldest member among its ranks. MacDougal has been holding both canes since August, and he arrived Saturday at the museum happy to hand over the Boston Post Cane to the museum’s executive director Beth Wellin, who made a special place for the cane over the fireplace mantle in the Trask House. Consistent with the way canes are awarded in other towns, the BOS in 2022 will take nominations for any resident interested in being awarded a certificate (and cane) as Manchester’s oldest resident. The current plan is to present the cane as part of the Fourth of July celebration, after which it will be returned home to the Manchester Historical Museum.