Community buys back its favourite horse
Not all stories have happy endings, but North Dundas residents can now safely beam with pride after a successful campaign to buy back the beloved “Horse Tony” statue that sat at the corner of County Roads 43 and 3 for decades.
On June 15, the Times reported that Horse Tony had been sold in anticipation of the sale of Shirley Fawcett’s home, where the statue had resided since it was purchased by the late Roy Fawcett, Shirley’s husband. It didn’t take long for the North Dundas community to make it very clear just how important Tony was as a symbol of local history and pride.
Resident Janet Smith then took the initiative on a campaign that many North Dundas locals were likely hoping would get underway. She set forth with a public effort to buy back the horse, after a local veterinary clinic – Dundas Veterinary Services – offered a permanent home for the statue on their property alongside County Road 31.
In a move that can be relatively rare for small communities, the CBC picked up the Horse Tony story, a sure sign of the community’s “loud and proud” love of their treasured landmark. The CBC reveals that the horse was sold to “local veterinarian Will Armstrong”. Their coverage indicated that he is not interested in speaking to reporters.
Tony was reportedly sold for just $500, and then subsequently went back on the market for $2,000 when news of the community hype began to spread. With an allowance for shipping and restoration costs, Janet set a fundraising goal of $3,000 to be able to “bring Tony home”, so to speak.
The first week of the campaign resulted in donations, but not the kind of donations that were needed to get the funds raised in time. The community was generous – particularly considering that the fundraising campaign is in support of a symbolic ornament – but not quite to the extent needed. After the CBC story was released, this changed with a single massive donation of $2,186 that put the fundraising exactly where it needed to be. The large donation was made anonymously.
“We went today and paid for Tony,” Janet told the Times on June 21. “We did a ‘once over’ of Tony to see what needs to be done and to grab measurements. He needs ear repair, new paint, a new concrete base, and weather sealant.”
The campaign for Tony was an overwhelmingly positive one. “I have received hundreds of messages of support,” added Janet. “I am ever so thankful to everyone who messaged, donated, helped, or are volunteering to help.”
Tony has been a symbol for North Dundas residents since 1988, before North Dundas was actually amalgamated as a Township. He will be sure to get visitors at his new home at Dundas Veterinary Services for decades more to come.