Boston Post Cane

On Thursday April 20, 2017, the Board of Selectmen voted to approve a new Boston Post Cane Policy, therefore reviving the New England tradition.

What is the Boston Post Cane?

The Boston Post Cane tradition was established in 1909 by The Boston Post newspaper. A special cane was presented to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns in New England, to be presented as an honor to each town’s oldest resident.  The recipient held the honor as long as he/she lived (or moved from the town).  Upon his or her death (or move) the cane would be awarded to the next oldest resident. The cane was constructed of imported ebony from the African Congo, coated with shellac, rubbed down with pumice and coated with French varnish. The head was made of 14K gold with an inscription that read, “Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town) – To be transmitted.” The Cane would belong to the town and not the resident who received it. The Selectmen were to be the trustees of the cane.

To provide for the preservation and public awareness of the tradition and protection of the cane from loss or damage, the Town of Topsham commissioned a local craftsman to build a custom display case. The cane and a short biography /photo of the last honoree is on display in the lobby of the Municipal Building. Many of the original canes have been lost, destroyed, or stolen. Topsham is one of the few communities still in possession of the cane.

The holder of the cane must be the oldest known Topsham resident, and has resided in Topsham for a minimum of ten continuous years.

The term ‘resident’ refers to a person who has physically resided at a fixed, permanent and principal home in the town.
Search Method
There shall be a notice placed in the media looking for nominations for those residents who are known to be the oldest.  All nominations must be received in the Town Clerk’s Office 60 days from the date of the posting of the notice in the media. The search may also include an informal survey, general public knowledge, and inquiries to senior housing facilities, civic groups, and churches or by nomination from family or friends. 
Nomination Procedure 

Nomination forms are available at the Town Clerk’s Office and on the Town website. 

Residents who can prove their age and who meet eligibility criteria may be nominated.

Recognizing that the Town has no formal means of identifying the oldest citizen, selection of the honoree shall be by the Select Board  based upon submitted nominations and available data as to eligible residents.

The Town of Topsham recognizes that the eldest citizen may not wish to receive the title and therefore asserts that in such cases the recognition will be made to the next eldest citizen that wishes to hold the title.

The chairman of the Select Board or his /her designee shall present Topsham’s eldest resident with a certificate/plaque and a pin to signify the honor and the name of the honoree will be inscribed on a plaque displayed with the honoree’s photograph and a brief biography with the Boston Post Cane at the Topsham Town Office.

The location of the presentation will be determined according to the circumstances of the honoree.

The recipient will retain this honor as long as he/she lives.

The Town Clerk’s Office must be notified if the honoree of the Boston Post Cane dies or otherwise refuses or returns the honor. At that time the search/nomination selection procedure will be initiated to choose a new recipient.