FALMOUTH — Following the death in April of the town’s oldest resident, 107-year-old Florence McCann, Falmouth is seeking the next person to be symbolically honored with its historic Boston Post Cane.

Florence McCann became the holder of Falmouth’s Boston Post Cane in 2013. She died this past spring at the age of 107. File

Falmouth has “presented” the cane 21 times since receiving it in 1909. It traditionally goes to the oldest resident living in town, although officials have stopped giving residents the cane itself, which is kept at Town Hall.

The 110-year-old tradition began when Edwin Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper, sent gold-headed ebony canes to more than 600 towns throughout New England as a means of drumming up publicity and support for the paper.

Initially, the cane only went to the oldest male resident, but that changed in 1930, when women also became eligible to hold it.

Nominations for the new cane holder can be sent to Deputy Town Clerk Linda Case at [email protected] or to her attention at Falmouth Town Hall, 217 Falmouth Road, Falmouth, ME 04105.

Because the cane belongs to the town and not the recipient, upon the previous holder’s death the honor is automatically passed on to the next oldest resident.

The Boston Post went out of business in 1957, but the custom of the Boston Post Cane still continues in many communities today. While some towns no longer follow the practice, Falmouth continues to – partly to preserve the tradition and partly to preserve the cane, which is itself a valuable historic artifact.

McCann was the most recent recipient of Falmouth’s cane. She was first presented with it in 2013 when she reached the age of 102. McCann, a lifelong resident, died April 6 at the age of 107.

In a December 2016 interview with The Forecaster, McCann recalled her humble beginnings in a home that had no electricity or running water. Born on Nov. 24, 1911, she lived through two world wars, the culmination of the fight for a woman’s right to vote, and the inauguration of 18 presidents.

Except for a brief period when she was first married, McCann has lived her entire life in Falmouth, in neighborhoods not far from Town Hall. Even after reaching the advanced age of 107, McCann was still active with an astounding memory, and she continued to tend a vegetable garden and her beloved roses.

To be eligible for the cane, according to the town’s rules, a nominee must be the oldest person residing in Falmouth and they must have lived in town continuously for the past five years, or have lived in town for the past two years and been a legal resident for not less than 15 of the past 40 years. The cane holder must also be able and willing to receive the honor in person or through a trusted family member.

It’s then up to the chairperson of the Town Council or their designee to present the oldest resident with a certificate and a gift with the town seal signifying the honor, prompting the name of the honoree to be inscribed on a plaque that’s displayed along with the original Boston Post Cane at Town Hall.

In addition to asking the public for nominations, the town can also conduct an informal survey of senior citizen groups, place a newspaper advertisement, or make inquiries to Falmouth churches, nursing homes, and civic groups to find the oldest resident.

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