Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada
by Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli
Queen Elizabeth II personifies the history of Canada, in which her family for over five hundred years have played a leading role.
She makes possible a level of national life above the compromise, bargaining and self-
interested ambition of politics.
She possesses ultimate legal authority in Canada, thereby ensuring politicians remain no more than temporary administrators of power
She integrates executive, legislative and judicial functions of government at central and provincial levels.
She turns policies of political parties into laws for a democratic state through royal assent in Parliament.
She embodies, institutionally and personally, the Canadian ideals of “peace, order and good government”, racial harmony, democracy and equality before the law.
She is the essential element of the idea and practice of “loyal opposition”, which allows Canadians to oppose the government of the day without being considered disloyal to their country.
She is the common constitutional thread binding the 14 governments of Canada’s federal system, thereby helping reconcile regional authority and federal unity.
She gives (as she has for over 61 years) a personal example of dedication, hard work and self- sacrifice as Queen that has inspired millions of Canadians both in their work and personal
She gives Canada, symbolically, the character of an extended family not just a public corporation.
She is a great world figure, known and respected throughout the globe, and by being Queen of Canada, she endows Canadians with that international prestige.
Queen of Canada
ELIZABETH II became Queen on 6 February 1952 on the death of her father King George VI. She was proclaimed “Queen” and “Supreme Liege Lady in and over Canada” at Ottawa the same day.
Before her Coronation she assumed the separate title “Queen of Canada”. This new royal style and title was proclaimed at Ottawa 29 May 1953 after assent to the proclamation being issued was given by Act of the Queen’s Canadian Parliament. The Queen’s official style and titles is “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her Other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”.
The separate title “Queen of Canada” fulfilled the dream of the founders of Canada. In 1867 the Fathers of Confederation wanted their new country called “The Kingdom of Canada” but dropped the proposal because of American objections. Sir John A. Macdonald told Queen Victoria on 27 February 1867 that the purpose of Confederation was “to declare in the most solemn and emphatic manner our resolve to be under the Sovereignty of Your Majesty and your family forever”. The Confederation Debates made clear that Canada was to be governed “by the Sovereign in person or by her representative duly authorised”.
Elizabeth II was crowned Queen 2 June 1953. At her Coronation she swore an oath to govern the peoples of Canada and her other realms “according to their respective laws and customs”.
Elizabeth II became Queen of Canada because her ancestors (direct and indirect) were the 32 kings and queens who had reigned over the country since Henry VII and François I. These monarchs brought about the discovery, exploration, settlement, defence and development of Canada.
Henry VII financed Giovanni Caboto’s voyage in 1497. François I sent Jacques Cartier to claim the St Lawrence region in 1534. Elizabeth I commissioned exploration of the North. James I began the settlement of Newfoundland. Henri IV ordered the founding of Quebec in 1608. Charles I created the Baronets of Nova Scotia to settle that province and granted its coat of arms in 1625. Louis XIV made Quebec a royal province in 1663. Charles II granted the Hudson’s Bay Company charter in 1670. Anne forged personal ties with the native peoples. George II opened the way for German immigration. George III guaranteed French Canada its religion and language. Victoria proclaimed Confederation. Edward VII granted many of the provincial coats of arms. George V enacted the Statute of Westminster in 1931, giving Canada full independence.
Elizabeth II’s family have played no small role in developing the Canadian identity of which the Monarch remains the cornerstone. It was the Queen’s great-great-great grandfather Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, who gave the name “Canadian” its modern meaning. Prince Edward, then a young army officer, was living in Quebec when the elections to the first legislative assembly of the province were held in 1792. At Charlesbourg a riot broke out at the polls. The conflict rapidly developed an ethnic character. Mounting the hustings, Prince Edward calmed the crowd by a strong and pointed speech. “Part then in peace” he told the people. “I urge you to unanimity and accord. Let me hear no more of the odious distinctions of English and French. You are all His Britannic Majesty’s beloved Canadian subjects.” Before that ‘Canadian’ applied only to the French-speaking inhabitants of the country, not all its residents.
Elizabeth II is a “shared” monarch. As they do with other symbols of their country (the English and French languages for example), Canadians share their Queen with several nations. As of 2013 the Queen is Queen of 15 other countries and head of a Commonwealth of 54 states (1/4 of the world’s people). Far from being less Canadian for this, the “shared Queen” in fact enriches Canada with her ties to the outside world from which many new Canadian citizens come.
Elizabeth II is a great symbol of the unity of the world’s races. Canada and Papua New Guinea, culturally mixed countries, one predominantly white and the other mainly Melanesian, Papuan and Negrito, both have her as Queen.
Elizabeth II is married to the Greek-born Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh has strongly supported the Queen in her role as Queen of Canada. His Royal Highness has been in Canada more than any other member of the Royal Family, past or present, (50 visits, at least 23 stop overs). As well as being a pioneer environmentalist and a Canadian Privy Councillor, he is also the founder of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme that has involved tens of thousands of Canadian young people, and which in 1999 was extended to include the Charter for Business in Canada to assist disadvantaged youth and aboriginal people.
The Queen is present in Canada in two ways. She is always present institutionally. Every act of the federal or a provincial government is in law an act of the Queen. The Queen is also at regular periods present in person. Because she is a monarch Canada shares with fifteen other countries, she is not in any one of those countries all the time. A glance at her over sixty-one years as Queen shows that a large part of her life has been spent on the move, travelling from one realm to another. The great publicity given to her homecomings to Canada in person perhaps overshadows her permanent institutional presence and her daily involvement with Canada and Canadian affairs at the Palace – whether it is receiving a Lieutenant-Governor, approving requests from her Canadian Ministers, perusing some of the hundreds of letters written to her by ordinary Canadians or settling details of her next Canadian tour.
As the authority from which all official honours, orders, decorations and medals stem in Canada, the Queen is Sovereign of the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit and the Order of Merit of the Police Forces, as well as of the Order of Merit, Royal Victorian Order and the Order of St John. (“It is a privilege.….to recognise Canadian excellence and achievement” the Queen said in Vancouver in 2002.)
The Command-in-Chief of and over Canada is vested in the Queen and she therefore has a special relationship with the Canadian Forces. This arrangement ensures that the Forces do not become political. The Queen is Colonel-in-Chief of many separate units of the Forces.
Elizabeth II is patron of diverse Canadian associations, societies, institutions, schools and charities. To some of them she has given the designation “Royal” to show they have a direct link with her.
Queen Elizabeth II’s ancestry is a multicultural panorama. German and Danish in the main lines, it also includes figures as diverse as Armenian princes, Mongol warriors and Muslim leaders.
The Queen has strong personal views on Canadian affairs but as a non-partisan monarch never expresses them in public. She is for one thing a firm believer in Canadian unity. This fact came to light accidentally at the time of the Quebec Referendum in 1995. Shortly before the vote, a Montreal radio broadcaster supporting the federalist side telephoned Buckingham Palace and, pretending to be the Prime Minister, got the Queen on the line. At the beginning of what she assumed to be a routine confidential talk with Mr Chrétien, Her Majesty commented on the surge in separatist support and said, “It sounds as though the referendum may go the wrong way”.
Whatever her personal hopes and views, Elizabeth II is conscious of being the Queen of all Canadians, even those whose opinions she does not share. Thus, after she proclaimed the Constitution Act in 1982, and being aware that this was the first time in Canadian history that a major constitutional change had been made without the Quebec government’s agreement, Her Majesty tried to demonstrate her position as head of the whole Canadian family and her role as conciliator by privately expressing to journalists her regret that Quebec was not part of the settlement.
The Queen showed her complete understanding of the delicate position she holds as a constitutional monarch in the Northwest Territories in 1994. At the Aboriginal Cultural Festival in Yellowknife, the Dene community presented her with a list of grievances on stalled land claim negotiations. The Queen accepted the list and turned and handed it to the Prime Minister. As Queen of Canada she listens to all her people and passes what she hears on, with or without her own advice, to the political leaders whose job it is to solve the problems.
ELIZABETH II on . . .
“In almost every mile that we have travelled through fields, forests, prairies and mountains we have been welcomed with a warmth of heart that has made us feel how truly we belong to Canada.”
“Industry and commerce may bring wealth to a country, but the character of a nation is formed by other factors. Race, language, religion, culture and tradition all have some contribution to make, and when I think of the diversity of these factors in Canada today and the achievements that have grown from their union, I feel proud and happy to be Queen of such a nation.”
(1957, THANKSGIVING DAY NATIONAL CBC RADIO AND TV BROADCAST IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH, THE FIRST TV BROADCAST THE QUEEN MADE ANYWHERE)
“Whenever you sing [the French words of] O Canada you are reminded that you come of a proud race.”
“I count myself fortunate to be at the head of a state in which such a society [open to everyone] exists and which is strongly established in freedom and tolerance.”
“I’m getting to know our country rather well.”
“I’m going home to Canada tomorrow.”
(1983, ON LEAVING CALIFORNIA FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA)
“I, and members of my family, have been with you on many special days in the life of this country. I particularly recall another July 1st in Canada’s Centennial Year, here on Parliament Hill. I said then, and I repeat it today, that ‘Canada is a country that has been blessed beyond most countries in the world’. It is a country worth working for.
“I am proud to be the first member of the Canadian Royal Family to be greeted in Canada’s newest territory. I thank you for welcoming us so warmly.”
“From the moment when I first set foot on Canadian soil the feeling of strangeness went, for I knew myself to be not only amongst friends, but amongst fellow countrymen.”
“[Canadians] have placed in our hearts a love…which will never grow cold and which will always draw us back again.”
“It is these, the ordinary people of Canada, who have given flesh and sinew to the plans of the Fathers of Confederation.”
“You prove that peoples of different languages, cultures and ideas can live together in peace, equality and mutual respect.”
“I want to express my profound gratitude to all Canadians … for the loyalty, encouragement and support you have given to me over these past fifty years.”
“I treasure my place in the life of Canada and my bond with Canadians everywhere.”
THE CROWN’S ROLE:
“I want to show that the Crown is not merely an abstract symbol of our unity but a personal and living bond between you and me.”
(CORONATION DAY BROADCAST 1953)
“When you hear or read about the events in Washington [where the Queen was flying from Ottawa for a visit to the United States], and other places, I want you to reflect that it is the Queen of Canada and her husband who are concerned in them.”
“If I have helped you feel proud of being Canadian, if I have reminded you of the strength which comes from unity and if I have helped to draw your attention to the bright vision of the years ahead, I shall feel well satisfied because I believe with all conviction that this country can look to a glorious future.”
“I want the Crown to be seen as a symbol of national sovereignty belonging to all. It is not only a link between Commonwealth nations, but between Canadian citizens of every national origin and ancestry.”
“Our ceremony today brings together Sovereign, Parliament and people – the three parts of Constitutional Monarchy. That is a system in which those who represent the community come together and remain together, rather than dwelling on differences which might further divide them.”
“Canadian unity is not uniformity.”
(1971, CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY , VANCOUVER)
“Canada asks no citizens to deny their forebears, to forsake their inheritance – only that each should accept and value the cultural freedom of others as he enjoys his own. It is a gentle invitation, this call to citizenship and I urge those who have accepted the invitation to participate fully in the building of the Canadian society and to demonstrate the real meaning of the brotherhood of man.”
“Parliamentary democracy has fostered tolerance and flexibility – a good balance between individual rights and collective responsibilities. And this is because the Constitutional Monarchy has always placed the emphasis on people in community – as it were, a national family with the Sovereign as its head.”
“Thoughtless meddling and ill-considered exploitation [of both natural and human environment] is just as bad as wanton destruction and its side effects can reach out great distances…in time as well as over the surface of the earth.”
“Today I have proclaimed this new Constitution….There could be no better moment for me, as Queen of Canada, to declare again my unbounded confidence in the future of this wonderful country.”
“I am not just a fair weather friend, and I am glad to be here at this sensitive time. I hope my presence may call to mind those many years of shared experience, and raise new hopes for the future. The unity of the Canadian people was the paramount issue in 1867, as it is today. There is no force except the force of will, to keep Canadians together.”
“I am struck by the way this country unites the respect of its traditions and past with an energetic optimism of its future.”
“It was no coincidence that when I launched the Buckingham Palace Website on the Internet this year, the link I used was to students in Ontario. It was because Canadians seem to have this natural aptitude for technological wizardry that they were the natural choice.”
“Just ninety-nine years ago my great-grandfather, King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, came to open the Victoria Bridge…a striking symbol of Canadian progress and achievement. Today, within sight of the spot where the Prince of Wales stood in 1860, we are opening a project [the St Lawrence Seaway] with exactly the same significance for our own age….More than all this, it is a magnificent monument to the enduring friendship of our two nations [Canada and the United States] and to their partnership in the development of North America. That partnership is most agreeably symbolised, Mr President [Dwight Eisenhower], in the fact that you and I have joined together to perform this ceremony today.”
“My family’s association with this country over many generations allows me to see and to appreciate Canada from another viewpoint, that of History.”
“I am pleased to think that there exists in our Commonwealth a country where I can express myself officially in French.”
(1964, TO QUEBEC LEGISLATURE)
“Thank you for being just the way you are.”
(1970, TO THE INUIT WHO WERE TOO SHY TO APPROACH
“In this modern world we hear all too much about the enmities and quarrels between men of different races and religions. I hope that you will always remember that, except for the great commercial rivalries between the companies in the days of the fur trade, French, English and Scots, Indians, Eskimos and Métis, all worked and lived together in a difficult and dangerous environment. They faced the rigours of a harsh climate and natural obstacles of a new land and under those testing conditions only the true value of the individual had any importance. This is a lesson we should always remember.”
HER PERSONAL COMMITMENT:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial Commonwealth to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do; I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God bless all of you who are willing to share it.”
(1947, 21ST BIRTHDAY BROADCAST FROM SOUTH AFRICA)
“ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY: ‘Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and the other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?’
QUEEN ELIZABETH II: ‘I solemnly promise so to do.’ ”
(1953, CORONATION OATH)
“As I now address you here [in the Parliament of Canada in Ottawa] for the first time, I will call to your memory the words of the earlier Elizabeth when, more than three centuries ago, she spoke from her heart, to the Speaker and Members of her last Parliament and said: ‘Though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown – that I have reigned with your loves’. Now, here in the New World, I say to you that it is my wish that in the years before me I may so reign in Canada and be so remembered.”
(1957, SPEECH FROM THE THRONE, OTTAWA)
“We hear altogether too much about struggles for power these days. I believe we should be more concerned with giving service.”
“I dedicate myself anew to the people and the nation I am proud to serve.”
(1977, SPEECH FROM THE THRONE, OTTAWA)
“I feel the same obligation to you that I felt in 1952. With your prayers, and your help, and with the love and support of my family, I shall try to serve you in the years to come.”
(1991, CHRISTMAS BROADCAST)
Prelude to the Throne
1930 – Four year old Princess Elizabeth narrowly missed spending part of her childhood at Rideau Hall, Ottawa. The Canadian Government requested that her father the Duke of York (later King George VI) be appointed Governor-General of Canada. This invitation was turned down as a result of the political intrigues of the British Minister for the Dominions.
1933 – Princess Elizabeth appeared on a Newfoundland postage stamp (a picture of her at age five).
1935 – At ten the Princess’s picture was on a Canadian postage stamp as part of a series issued to mark the Silver Jubilee of her grandfather King George V. That year she also appeared on the first twenty dollar bill issued by the newly founded Bank of Canada.
1936 – On 11 December Princess Elizabeth became Heir Presumptive to the Throne of Canada when her father the Duke of York became King.George VI.
1939 – The Canadian Government wanted Princess Elizabeth (and her sister Princess Margaret) to join the King and Queen for their great tour of Canada but the King decided she was too young.
1940 – July The Government in Ottawa urged that Princess Elizabeth and her sister be evacuated to Canada. But King George VI decided to keep his family around him despite the war danger. He felt this would raise morale among the armed forces and civilians who were hard pressed by bombings and military set-backs.
1940 – On 13 October Canadians heard Princess Elizabeth make her first radio broadcast. “We [the children] are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well” she said.
1943 – For her 17th birthday Princess Elizabeth sat for her first official, formal Canadian photograph.
1944 – On 21 April Princess Elizabeth came of age. In the remaining war years she accompanied her parents on visits to many Canadian service personnel stationed in the United Kingdom. She began to carry out solo duties (such as reviewing a parade of Canadian airwomen in 1945) as well. On her birthday she received greetings and best wishes from The House of Commons sent to her from Ottawa.
1944 – 1 May the Princess sat next to the Canadian Prime Minister at a dinner party given by the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. This was her first major social occasion after coming of age.
1947 – Princess Elizabeth married her cousin, Greek-born Prince Philip, who was both a Greek and Danish Prince. The Duke of Edinburgh (as he was made by the King) had his first Canadian experience in 1941 as a midshipman when his ship went to Halifax to escort Canadian troops to Europe to fight Hitler. In 1943, as second in command of HMS Wallace, he helped cover the landing of Canadian Forces on the beaches of Sicily.
1947 – Princess Elizabeth became Colonel-in-Chief of Le Regiment de la Chaudiere and the 48th Highlanders of Canada, her first appointments in the Canadian Forces.
1951 – On her first tour of Canada, Princess Elizabeth carried with her a draft Accession Declaration in case her ailing father died when she was in Canada.
1951 – Coast-to-coast tour as Princess Elizabeth;
1957 – First monarch to open Parliament in Ottawa;
1959 – First coast-to-coast tour as Queen, including a visit to the Yukon Territory;
1964 – Centenary of Charlottetown Conference, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ottawa;
1967 – Presided at centenary of Confederation, Ottawa; Expo ’67 in Montreal;
1970 – Tour of Northwest Territories and Manitoba;
1971 – Tour of British Columbia for its centenary;
1973 – Twice: tour of Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta; returned for stay in Ottawa for Commonwealth Conference in summer;
1976 – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario;
1977 – Celebrated her Silver Jubilee in Ottawa;
1978 – Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, Alberta;
1982 – Stay in Ottawa for patriation of the Canadian constitution;
1983 – Tour of southern British Columbia;
1984 – New Brunswick and Ontario bicentenaries, Manitoba;
1987 – British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec;
1990 – Alberta, Ottawa for Canada Day;
1992 – Ottawa for Canada Day;
1994 – Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Northwest Territories;
1997 – Newfoundland (500th anniversary of Caboto’s landing), Ontario and Ottawa for Canada Day;
2002 – Golden Jubilee Tour of Nunavut, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Ottawa;
2005 – Centenaries of Saskatchewan and Alberta;
2007 – Rededication of Vimy Ridge memorial;
2010 – Nova Scotia for 100th anniversary of Royal Canadian Navy), Ottawa for Canada Day, Manitoba, Ontario.
Stop-overs in Canada
1953 – Gander, Newfoundland;
1963 – Edmonton and Montreal, two in Vancouver;
1974 – Held investiture at CFB Uplands, Ottawa;
1974 – Gander, Newfoundland;
1985 – Gander, Newfoundland;
1986 – Gander, Newfoundland;
1991 – Gander, Newfoundland.
Some Acts of Elizabeth II
as Queen of Canada
1955 – Authorised new Great Seal of Canada
1956 – Approved coats-of-arms of the Yukon and Northwest Territories
1957 – Became first Sovereign to open Canadian Parliament in person (“I greet you as your Queen. Together we constitute the Parliament of Canda.”). Visited U.S.A. as Queen of Canada
1962 – Adopted personal flag for Canada based on her Canadian Royal Arms
1965 – Proclaimed National Flag of Canada and approved Ontario’s flag.
1966 – Approved Manitoba Provincial Flag
1967 – Established Order of Canada
1970 – Toured the North to demonstrate Canadian Sovereignty there
1972 – Established Order of Military Merit
1975 – Lent paintings to exhibition of work of Canadian artist Homer Watson
1976 – Opened XXI Olympic Games in Montreal. Received Alberta Indian Chiefs at Buckingham Palace
1977 – Celebrated her Silver Jubilee in Ottawa
1978 – Opened Commonwealth Games in Edmonton
1979 – Created Newfoundland Constabulary a “Royal” police force
1981 – Declared to her Canadian Privy Council her consent to the marriage of the Prince of Wales
1982 – Proclaimed revised Constitution in Ottawa
1983 – From Vancouver invited people of the world to visit the city for the 1986 World Fair
1984 – As Queen of Canada received the French President at the Canadian War Cemetery at Beny-sur-Mer during D-Day Anniversary
1985 – Became Canada’s longest reigning monarch since Confederation
1987 – Augmented coat of arms of British Columbia
1988 – Authorised her heraldic authority to be exercised in Canada (Canadian Heraldic Authority)
1990 – Gave permission for creation of extra members of the Senate of Canada under section 26 of the Constitution Act 1867
1992 – Made Victoria Cross highest decoration for valour in Canadian Honours System
1994 – As Queen of Canada unveiled Canada Memorial in the United Kingdom
1997 – Presided at 130th Anniversary of Confederation, marked 500th anniversary of the Monarchy in Newfoundland
1998 – Sent message when ice storm devastated Quebec, eastern Ontario and New Brunswick epressing her sympathy and praising courage of sufferers and efforts of relief personnel; Re-opened Canada House, London, United Kingdom; Gave patronage to appeal for restoration of Mohawk Chapel, Deseronto, Ontario
The Queen and Her Armed Forces
In addition to possessing the Command-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces, Elizabeth II holds the appointment of Colonel-in-Chief or Captain-General of certain units of the Forces.
Governor General’s Horse Guards The King’s Own Calgary Regiment
Royal Canadian Artillery Canadian Military Engineers
Governor General’s Foot Guards The Canadian Grenadier Guards
Royal 22e Regiment Le Regiment de la Chaudiere
The Royal New Brunswick Regiment 48th Highlanders of Canada
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of The Calgary Highlanders
Canada (Princess Louise’s)
Her Majesty is also Honorary Commissioner of The Royal Canadian Mounted Police / Gendarmerie Royale du Canada
Elizabeth II gives her help and encouragement to many worth causes, societies,
associations, institutions, schools and charities by becoming their Patron. To some of them she has given the designation ‘Royal’ to show they have a direct link to her.
Canadian Cancer Society Canadian Red Cross Society
Navy League of Canada Royal Canadian Air Force Benevolent Fund
Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of
Canadian Medical Association Canada
Canadian National Exhibition Association Royal Canadian Humane Association
Save the Children Canada IODE
Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Canadian Nurses Association
Toronto French School St John’s Ravenscourt School
Canadian Naval Association
Part of the Canadian Fabric
Elizabeth II’s name has been imprinted on the face of her Canada. Some examples are –
Queen Elizabeth Ranges, Alberta Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver
The Queensway (Ottawa part of the Queen Elizabeth Islands, Northwest
Trans Canada Highway) Territories
Queen Elizabeth School, Perth Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Edmonton
Hotel la Reine Elizabeth, Montreal Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Winnipeg
Queen Elizabeth Building, Exhibition Queen Elizabeth II Court, Regina
Place, Toronto Queen Elizabeth Planetarium, Edmonton
Golden Jubilee Park, Haliburton Place Reine Elizabeth II, Trois-Rivieres
Parc Reine Elizabeth II, La Pocatiere Princess Elizabeth Wing, Soldiers’ Memorial
Accustomed to Her Face
The Queen has been photographed by many of Canada’s foremost photographers. The first formal picture of Her Majesty by a Canadian was Josef Karsh’s lovely portrait of Princess Elizabeth at 17. Just before she became Queen, Karsh also took a series of official pictures of Princess Elizabeth in formal and informal poses. For her extensive 1959 tour, the Queen asked to have a Canadian photographer take the pre-tour pictures and Donald McKeague of Toronto was the person chosen. He produced a number of carefully posed and professionally executed pictures. In 1967 Karsh was again commissioned to take a series of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh for the Centenary of Canadian Confederation. The result was a number of very regal pictures taken in the splendour of Buckingham Palace. Cavouk of Toronto took the next official photograph of the Queen of Canada in 1973. It is his picture that is sometimes called “the citizen Queen” because of its contrasting informality. Rideau Hall photographer John Evans captured the Sovereign during her Silver Jubilee stay in Ottawa in 1977. His justly well-known picture shows her in full majesty following her return from opening Parliament. The Queen is seen wearing the Order of the Garter founded in 1348 and the Order of Canada established in 1967 and her dress has gold fringes suggestive of an aboriginal princess. Karsh was once again entrusted with the task of photographing his Queen in 1984. The series he took included a popular shot of Her Majesty with her corgi “Shadow”. The 1998 official Canadian picture of Elizabeth II was for some unexplained reason taken at the Palace by a United Kingdom photographer. Recent official Canadian pictures of the Monarch were taken during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee tour in October 2002 and for her tour in 2010.
The Queen has also been the subject of many Canadian artists. Hilton Hassell’s painting of the young Princess Elizabeth square dancing at Rideau Hall is justly famous. Jean-Paul Lemieux’s “affectionate memory images” showing the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh with the Parliament Buildings in the background combines the familiar and constitutional. The Queen on a Moose by Charles Pachter has attained the rank of a Canadian cultural image. Jack Harmon of British Columbia was responsible for the 1992 equestrian statue of Her Majesty that stands on Parliament Hill and sculptor Susan Velder is creating another equestrian statue of the Sovereign to be unveiled on the grounds of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in June 2003. Canadian coins carry the image of Her Majesty created by Dora de Pedery Hunt in 1989. These are just a few examples of the many Canadian artists who have depicted their Queen. An official Canadian painting of Her Majesty by artist Phil Richards was unveiled by the Queen in Canada House during her Diamond Jubilee year, and now hangs in the ballroom at Rideau Hall.
…on Elizabeth II
In her more than 61 year reign in Canada, the Queen’s impact has been great and varied. A former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, paid tribute in his memoirs to her role in facilitating patriation of the Constitution in 1982. When the Premier of Quebec, Jean Lesage, watched Her Majesty carrying out her duties in face of separatist violence in 1964, he was so moved by her calmness and courage that he kept breaking into tears.
Outsiders often share such perceptions. A Canadian writer interviewing the Ovechkin family after their unsuccessful attempt to flee from Soviet Communism in 1988, was surprised when one family member asked to see a Canadian dollar. Then he realised it was the picture of the Queen on the bill that he wanted to see. She symbolised the freedom the family aspired to – and alas never achieved, for they were killed in their next attempt. Closer to home, the Queen has also had an impact on Canada’s U.S. neighbours. After the escape of the American diplomats in Iran in 1979 through the efforts of the Canadian Ambassador, the picture of American gratitude that was flashed around the world was the scrawled message “God Save the Queen!” on a bag of U.S. mail bound for Canada.
“I have had the honour to be in your presence on numerous occasions,” said Jean Chretien, Prime Minister of Canada to Her Majesty in 2002, “and have always admired your commitment to Canada and your very genuine affection for Canadians”. The view of several generations of Canadians on the subject of their Queen was summed up by Brian Mulroney who, as Prime Minister, said: “No Sovereign has served her Canadian subjects with more grace, more concern and more good will than has Queen Elizabeth II”. Mr Mulroney expressed this feeling directly to Her Majesty. “You have”, he said, “stood with Canadians and you have stood by them, and Canadians in turn regard you with loyalty and affection”.
“I WILL CONTINUE TO DO MY BEST.….AND I HOPE YOU WILL ALL CONTINUE TO GIVE ME YOUR HELP.”
“WITH YOU PRAYERS, AND YOUR HELP.…I SHALL TRY TO SERVE YOU IN THEYEARS TO COME.”
CHRISTMAS BROADCAST 1991
Copyright (c) 2003/2013 Arthur Bousfield and Garry Toffoli (Fealty Enterprises)