The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday this month, an opportunity to look back on her long reign, which includes twenty-two tours of Canada. I discussed the 1959 royal tour by the Queen and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with Kate Bueckert at postmedia and I am quoted in the article “Queen Elizabeth’s top ten moments in Canada,” which appears in the Toronto Sun and other postmedia news outlets.
The 1959 royal tour was the Queen’s longest tour of Canada, the last whistle-stop tour where the royal couple crossed the country by train. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh spent six and half weeks in Canada, visiting every province and territory of the time. Subsequent royal tours were shorter, focusing on specific regions of the country, an approach that continues to the present day.
Canadians responded to the 1959 royal tour with enthusiasm and large crowds greeted the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh at various stops along the tour, including the province of Quebec, where the Queen would encounter protesters just five years later in 1964. The occasional critical voice in the Canadian media met with strong disagreement by senior political figures and members of the public. When CBC journalist Joyce Davidson stated, “We’re still annoyed at still being dependent on a monarchy,” Nathan Phillips, Mayor of Toronto was quick to declare “[Davidson] doesn’t represent Canadians or the people of Toronto.”
Over the course of the royal couple’s itinerary, the Duke of Edinburgh assumed a greater public role as the Queen discovered that she was expecting Prince Andrew and needed time to rest within her busy schedule. (The Queen’s pregnancy was not public knowledge during the tour though Canadian Prime Minister Diefenbaker was one of the first be informed). Prince Philip performed solo engagements including a speech to the Canadian Medical Association at the Royal York hotel in Toronto where he encouraged Canadians to improve their level of physical fitness.
The 1959 royal tour remains one of the Queen’s most historically significant tours of Canada. The Queen opened the St. Lawrence Seaway as Queen of Canada with American President Dwight Eisenhower and had the opportunity to meet with Canadians from across and the country and various walks of life.
For more about the Queen in Canada, see my 2012 Diamond Jubilee series of articles: