The upcoming jubilee tour of Canada by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall has received extensive attention in the Toronto media this week as the royal couple will be attending an extensive program of events there on May 22. I gave a radio interview about their itinerary yesterday for CBC Here and Now in Toronto and spoke to the Toronto Star and Toronto Sun about the upcoming royal visit. Toronto was not part of the itinerary for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Canada in 2011 and the city’s inclusion in the Diamond Jubilee tour reflects the policy of ensuring that Canada’s major cities, provinces and territories receive a roughly equal number of royal visits.
Toronto has been the setting for royal visits since the future King Edward VII’s tour of British North America in 1860. The Toronto Public Library system maintains an excellent website of royal memorabilia from these tours. The collection includes an admission ticket to the reception held by the Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall for the future Edward VII in 1860, and a dance card for the dance held in honour of the future Edward VIII by the general officer commanding military district number two in 1919. The menu for the dinner held by Lieutenant Governor Ray Lawson of Ontario and his wife for Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1951 contained regional specialities from all over region including “Bruce Sweetbreads and Middlesex Tomatoes filled with Brant County Peas” finishing with “Toronto Maple Leaf Biscuits” for dessert.
The collection also contains examples of media coverage of royal visits to Toronto. When the future King George V and Queen Mary visited the city in 1901, the Daily Star provided the complete itinerary with the times that the royal couple would travel by carriage through downtown Toronto, have dinner at Government House, attend a concert at Massey Hall and visit the University of Toronto, where the future King received an honourary degree. There are numerous scrapbooks of articles and photographs from King George VI’s and Queen Elizabeth’s famous 1939 tour of Canada.
The upcoming visit of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to Toronto is part of a long history of royal visits to Canada’s largest city. Toronto has hosted every 20th century monarch of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth and continues this tradition as the setting for part of the Prince of Wales’s jubilee visit.