General Wolfe Statue

Photograph by Chris Hawkins

The statue of General James Wolfe has an outstanding view from the top of Observatory Hill and was unveiled on 5 June 1930 as a gift from the Canadian people. 

General Wolfe had lived most of his life in Greenwich, with his later years spent at Macartney House overlooking the park on the west side. He joined the army at the age of 14 and rapidly ascended the ranks – becoming Major General in 1759 at the age of 32. At that time, Britain had been at war with France for five years, and Wolfe was immediately dispatched to Canada to lay siege to the French colony of Quebec. 

With the French occupying the strategic high ground, General Wolfe resorted to daring tactics to outflank the French army. Before sunrise, he had his entire army climb the cliffs, which the French considered to be impregnable. Catching the enemy by surprise, General Wolfe defeated the forces of General Louis-Joseph, the Marquis de Montcalm, and successfully claimed Canada for Britain. 

Tragically, General Wolfe was mortally wounded in the first volleys of musket fire but lived long enough to learn that victory was his. His body was brought back to Greenwich and laid in state in Macartney House before being buried in the vaults of St. Alfege’s Church. He was celebrated as a national hero.

The statue of General Wolfe is bronze and was made by Tait Mackenzie, a Canadian sculptor renowned for his life-like poses. The Marquis de Montcalm also died in the battle, and one of his descendants, the current Marquis de Montcalm, performed the unveiling. 

During World War II, a bomb landed on the Observatory causing considerable damage to outlying buildings. Shrapnel from the explosion hit the back of the statue, and the scars can still be seen on the plinth.