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For Canada Day, We Remember The Words Of Queen Elizabeth


Opinion piece by Marty Gold


July 1, 2023 - In 1967 Queen Elizabeth II came to Canada to celebrate our Centennial. In that era, July 1 was called Dominion Day and was not known as Canada Day until about 1983. She addressed a joint session of Parliament.


“This country is fortunate and prosperous above most others. But not all of its people are free from want and hardship… There are still wrongs to be righted and suffering to be relieved. There is still a constant effort of accommodation to be made so that all peoples in this great country may live together in friendship and harmony.”


On her visits to Manitoba, the Queen took part in all aspects of our multicultural province and always showed her ability to make people feel comfortable in her presence. The most anticipated of her visits was three years after her address to Parliament, coming with the Royal Family to join in celebration of Manitoba’s 100th birthday.


Iconic columnist ‘Uncle’ Vince Leah took note of their attendance at a pre-season CFL contest between the Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 13.


“I feel that the monarchy will be around for a spell, whether some people in Quebec and other outlandish like it or not. I am sure the Queen was impressed by the devotion of 20,000 odd football nuts who stood up to sing God Save the Queen without being asked. Winnipeggers are funny people. They do not wear their collective hearts on their sleeves but they feel things very deeply.”


“Speaking excellent French”, reported the Tribune on July 15, 1970, Queen Elizabeth addressed about 4,500 people in the town of St. Pierre, and honed in on an essential characteristic of Confederation.


“During one of my recent trips to Canada, I realized the fundamental theme of Canadian unity. It is, after all, its linguistic and cultural diversity which gives to Canada its proper originality and its exceptional dimension.”


At the St. Pierre event, dignitaries included NDP Premier Ed Schreyer and his wife Lily; Education Minister Saul Miller, a stalwart of the Jewish community; and in his role as a Federal Minister for the Pierre Trudeau Liberal government, the aforementioned James Richardson.


That same day, she took part in a ceremony in Lower Fort Garry to ‘pick up the rent’ from The Hudson’s Bay Company. Three thousand people stood in the rain to watch the fulfillment of the original charter of HBC which “stipulated that payment of two elk and two black beaver be made whenever a reigning monarch entered the enormous area of present-day Western Canada over which the HBS ruled.” One change from her 1959 participation in the ritual was that real live beavers, trapped in the Swan River area, replaced the traditional pelts.


”The elks’ heads presumably go into storage with the growing herd of royal elk heads,” wryly noted Dave Stockand, while the beavers awaited being transferred to their new home at the London Zoo.

Manitobans flocked to get a glimpse


The Royals travelled from north to south with the Queen, Prince Phillip, Princess Anne and Prince Charles charming everyone, and the stories described all the minority populations that came out and met with them, including the Francophone community, Hutterites, Ukrainians, and First Nations.


At the Manitoba legislature, over 100,000 citizens gathered to see them, which would no doubt in modern times be called “Royalmania”.


Legendary news bureau chief Charles Lynch observed of the tour, “The heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was introduced to Canadians for the first time, and we to him, with favourable impression on both sides.” He noted “that unforgettable final day of mass jubilation in Winnipeg.”


Upon the conclusion of the Royal visit, a front-page editorial by the Tribune said, “The impression left by this gracious and gentle sovereign is already becoming a cherished memory to tens of thousands of men and women in all walks of life. Manitobans will long remember the warmth and friendliness that the Queen, her husband, and her children engendered wherever she went.”


A Queen for all Canadians


The newspaper explained how this connection to the people of the Keystone Province was a quite predetermined goal of the 1970 Centennial celebration.


“Months ago those given the responsibility of planning the royal tour vowed that this was to be a tour in the modern style. They were determined to thrust aside the rigid formalities of the past when only stuffy dignitaries, the elite and the big-wig politicians were given a chance to brush elbows with the royal family. It is to their credit that they resisted pressures and did in fact make this a visit of the sovereign to all he people.”


And to her credit, Elizabeth R and her family embraced the opportunity the Manitoba organizers designed for her to meet with the people all across my home province, speak to them, hear from them, and show she cared about their lives and about our country.


The Tribune concluded, “For the overwhelming majority of Manitobans, there is now renewed affirmation in the hope voiced by Her Majesty “that the Crown will long continue to be a unifying force and a focus for national identity to this province and in all of Canada.”


My Baba and Zaida were among the majority of Manitobans. Jews, Christians, and all Manitobans - without regard to societal divisions - embraced the monarch, as she did our citizens. Her kind words and gentle manner are fondly remembered. So too, should her belief about how wonderful our country is - and can be.


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Marty Gold reports on City Hall, the Legislature and community affairs as the host of The Great Canadian Talk Show podcast, available on Spotify, Apple and other popular platforms. He can be reached at martygoldlive@gmail.com and on Twitter @TGCTS . The views of Marty God do not necessarily reflect those of the WInnipeg Tribune.ca or affiliates.

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