A case for Phillipston’s Boston Post cane

  • Brian Tanguay, left, presents Gerry Gariepy with the new case crafted by Don Irving of Westminster for Phillipston's Boston Post cane. Contributed photo

  • Phillipston's Boston Post cane in new case built by Don Irving and displayed at the Historical Society of Phillipston. Contributed photo

  • Don Irving built the case for Phillipston's Boston Post cane. Contributed photo

Published: 11/6/2020 4:27:20 PM
Modified: 11/6/2020 4:27:05 PM

When several members from the Historical Society of Phillipston visited Templeton’s Historical Society, Linda Langevin saw their Boston Post Cane displayed in a beautiful case just perfect for the cane and wondered where they got it. President Brian Tanguay explained that his friend, Don Irving of Westminster, built the case for them, and he’d probably be happy to make one for Phillipston, too, and offered to ask him if he’d make another one.

Irving’s immediate reply was, “Sure, he’d be glad to.”

Since Irving sold his Data Guide Cable Corporation in Gardner five years ago, he has had time to pursue his love of woodworking. He said he had some nice pieces of oak he’d like to use for the Phillipston cane case.

The Boston Post newspaper, popular for over 100 years, was founded in 1831 and closed down in 1956. In 1909, it initiated a publicity promotion by donating gold-headed canes to all the towns in Massachusetts to be presented to their oldest male resident. The gift became a custom of honor, and the holder of the cane kept it until death, then afterwards a ceremony would be held to pass it on to the next oldest man. In 1930, it was expanded to include a woman.

Phillipston participated in the tradition until 1947, when the cane got burned up in a house fire. So for 65 years, there was no presentation. Then, in 2012, Emelda Haughton reestablished the custom. A reproduction cane was purchased and the town’s oldest resident once again became recognized and presented with the cane in a ceremony — but not to keep at home. The honoree is given a certificate and a Boston Post Cane pin. But with no proper way to display it at the Historical Society, the cane was stored away and not brought out until the time came to pass it on to the next recipient. The only time it was viewed was at the ceremony. Robert Stevens, age 92, was honored in 2020.

Now, thanks to Irving and Tanguay, the historic replica will be on display at Phillipston’s Historical Society. Both the cane and its case are pieces to admire.

Carole Gariepy is a Phillipston writer.

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