The Harpswell Select Board has begun a search for the town’s oldest resident in order to honor the long-lived individual with the Boston Post Cane.
The tradition of the Boston Post Cane “seeks to recognize and show appreciation for the oldest resident of Harpswell,” according to a town policy that governs eligibility for the honor.
The Boston Post distributed gold-headed ebony canes to 700 New England towns in 1909 with instructions to present the cane to their eldest male resident, according to the Boston Post Cane Information Center. Women became eligible in 1930. The custom has outlived the newspaper, which folded in 1957.
Harpswell’s policy says nominees must have lived in the town for at least 25 years, including the last 10 years. They must be at least 90 years old and willing to accept the honor in person or through a family member or friend.
Once the town identifies the recipient, they will be presented with a plaque and pin. As is the case in many of the 700 towns, Harpswell’s original cane has disappeared. The town has a replica cane, which is kept at the Town Office.
The last person to hold Harpswell’s cane was Edward B. Reed, of Orr’s Island. Reed was 99 when he accepted the cane in September 2015. He held the title of Harpswell’s oldest resident for more than five years until his death on March 22, 2021, at the age of 105.
On Oct. 12, the Select Board voted to accept nominations through the end of November. In addition to nominations from the public, town staff will review voter registration records and contact civic organizations in an effort to find the rightful recipient.
Nomination forms are available at the Town Clerk’s Office and online.