He was born in England in 1816 and began his life at sea at the early age of 13. He was a most successful trader for many years, travelling between Australia, China, California and New Zealand. After doing some contract work in Christchurch for Henry Le Cren, he was asked by Le Cren to set up a trading post in Timaru in 1857.
At the time Timaru was little more than a sheep station owned by George Rhodes. Cain occupied one of the 3 houses in Timaru. He opened a General Store and as the town developed, it wasn’t long before he was operating the first Landing service in the busy and growing settlement.
He built his home at Woodlands, between Cain and Harper streets, where he lived till his death on 28thJanuary, 1886. He died at the age of seventy after being murdered , poisoned by Thomas Hall, his son in law. Hall had married Kate Emily Espie, Cain’s stepdaughter, in Timaru on 26 May 1885. Cain disapproved and refused to go to the wedding. At the time of his conviction the judge described Thomas Hall as, “the vilest criminal every tried in New Zealand”.
A most dramatic exit and one which must have keep the locals fascinated for some time. Cain was buried in the Timaru Cemetery on the 30th Jan. 1886.
Our well-loved sculpture was created by Christchurch sculptor, Donald Paterson. He used a copper finish for the hands and face, and dressed the figure in real clothes, which were soaked in resin to give a lifelike look. A wonderful addition to our cityscape, it’s been climbed over, photographed and admired by many locals, children and visitors to our city over the years. One would wonder how many secrets he’s been told during its lifetime.