4 May 2014 - 07:00
Royal Canada: a history of tours and visits


Editor-in-Chief

In honour of the impending Royal Tour by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, Royal Central takes a look a the history of Royal visits and tours of the North American country.

Queen Elizabeth II at the University of British Columbia during the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Queen Elizabeth II at the University of British Columbia during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002.

The Queen has been a frequent visitor to Canada making her first visit as Princess Elizabeth in 1951 with her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. We will take a look at some the highlights of the rich and varied history of Royal visits to the North spanning 228 years.

From 1786 until 1951, a wide range of visits were made by members of the Royal Family from Prince William, the future King William IV visiting in 1786-1787 up until 1951 when then Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh carried out a coast-to-coast tour of Canada. During this time span a total 27 Royal visits took place.

This piece will focus more on the private and official tours that have taken place since 1953. But one would be remiss to not mention the visits that began with Her Majesty’s grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary.

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V and Queen Mary), toured Canada coast-to-coast as part of an Empire-wide voyage in 1901. Seven years later, George, Prince of Wales (King George V), was in Quebec for the city’s tercentenary.

George VI and Queen Elizabeth attending the King’s Plate at the Woodbine race track in Etobicoke, Ontario during their 1939 visit.

George VI and Queen Elizabeth attending the King’s Plate at the Woodbine race track in Etobicoke, Ontario during their 1939 visit.

1913 saw the future King George VI then Prince Albert, Duke of York visit parts of Canada during his Royal Navy tour, with his ship the HMS Cumberland. Albert’s brother David, Prince of Wales – who would of course become King Edward VIII – visited numerous times from 1919-1927. The future King had a ranch in Alberta he would visit as well.

Three years after the abdication of Edward VIII, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth embarked on a six-week coast-to-coast tour of Canada in 1939. It was the first visit of a reigning monarch to Canada.

Edward and his wife Wallis, now known as The Duke and Duchess of Windsor visited their ranch in Calgary in 1941 and stopped in New Brunswick in 1945 for a short holiday.

Then in 1951 the future sovereign began over 60 years of travelling and touring Canada when as Princess Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh made their first journey to the Commonwealth country. This would usher in new era as numerous members of the Royal Family would visit their North American ‘home.’

Her Majesty’s 1959 visit to Canada. Cadillac provided a Limousine with a removable, clear Plexiglas roof panel.

Her Majesty’s 1959 visit to Canada. Cadillac provided a Limousine with a removable, clear Plexiglas roof panel.

Her Majesty alone or with other members of the Royal Family has visited Canada 31 times on either private or official tours, this number includes stopovers as well.

The visits ranged from the 45 day tour in 1959 which included touring all provinces and both territories and the opening of St-Lawrence Seaway, a 10 day visit in 1970 with The Prince of Wales and Princess Anne for the N.W.T. Centennial, the 1976 visit for the XXI Olympic Games with her sons Charles, Andrew and Edward, a 1977 visit to Ottawa to commemorate her Silver Jubilee and again in 1992 for the 125th anniversary of Confederation and the 40th anniversary of the Accession and most recently in 2010 for Her Majesty’s 22nd Royal Tour of Canada.

The Queen’s family have paid numerous visits to Canada as well. From 1954-1989, The Queen Mother visited 14 times. Of those 14 trips, 9 were official visits whilst the others were stopovers or personal. In 1962 she made an official trip to Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Upper Canada Village to take part in the ceremonies of the Centenary of the Black Watch of Canada. The Queen Mother was Colonel-in-Chief.

The Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Prince Philip in Toronto with 3rd Battalion.

The Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Prince Philip in Toronto with 3rd Battalion.

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The Duke of Edinburgh has made 51 visits not counting the visits in which he accompanied Her Majesty. Whether official, personal or stopovers The Duke has visited Canada more than any other member of the Royal Family. In 1967, The Duke of Edinburgh paid a visit to Manitoba to open the Pan American Games, which were being held in Winnipeg.

The Prince of Wales has 20 trips tallied on his Royal tour log. His first trip was in 1970 when he stopped for two days in Ottawa before joining The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne for the visit to Manitoba.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a Massed Military Muster at Fort York Armoury in Toronto, on 22 May 2012.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall during a Massed Military Muster at Fort York Armoury in Toronto, on 22 May 2012.

In 2009 The Prince and The Duchess of Cornwall made their first visit to Canada as a couple. They visited the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. They returned in 2012 as part of Her Majesty’s Jubilee celebration. This trip saw the couple visit three provinces and four communities during their four day visit including: Saint John, New Brunswick, Toronto, Ontario, Regina and Saskatchewan.

The Duke of York and The Earl and Countess of Wessex have also embarked on numerous trips to Canada as well. The Duke’s last official visit was in 1989 with his then wife, The Duchess of York.

Since 1987, Prince Edward has visited Prince Edward Island on a number of occasions since 1987. The 2002 trip was the first official tour outside of the UK for The Countess. It was on the 2005 trip to Ontario that Sophie went to Welland to be installed as Colonel-in-Chief of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment. The Countess in 2009 opened the Air Force Museum of Alberta in Calgary.

HRH Princess Anne shares a moment with Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, LGEN Guy Thibault and his wife Bev during the Private Informal Reception in Fort Frontenac Officers Mess in Kingston, Ontario on 25 Oct 2013.

HRH Princess Anne shares a moment with Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, LGEN Guy Thibault and his wife Bev during the Private Informal Reception in Fort Frontenac Officers Mess in Kingston, Ontario on 25 Oct 2013.

Princess Anne made her first visit with Prince Philip and Prince Charles in 1970 for the centennial of Manitoba’s entry into Confederation. Since then Anne has made many official and private visits to Canada as she is honorary Canadian Forces colonel in chief of six units. In 2010 The Princess Royal attended a private function in St. John’s, NL to celebrate the anniversary of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. She also commemorated Regina’s centennial. The most recent visit by the Princess was in 2013 to Barrie, Ontario to celebrate the opening of a park and to visit the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, for which she is Colonel-in-Chief.

Prince Harry has been to Canada four times thus far. In 1991 he joined his parents and brother on an official visit. In 1998 Harry was on a private holiday with his father and brother to Whistler. The in 2006 and 2007 for Military exercises at Suffield, AB.

In 2011 Canada met the Royal newlyweds: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The couple toured the country from 30 June until 8 July. It was the first duties that William and Catherine would carry out as members of the Canadian Royal Family. This trip also witnessed the Duke’s royal standard for Canada.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, enjoying the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in 2011.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, enjoying the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in 2011.

William and Kate toured: Montreal, Quebec; Quebec City, Quebec; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Summerside, Prince Edward Island; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; Slave Lake, Alberta; Calgary, Alberta.

The Prince of Wales summed up visits to Canada best in 1996: “Every time I come to Canada, and I’ve been here many times since 1970, a little more of Canada seeps into my bloodstream and, from there, straight into my heart.”

Royal Central will continue to provide all the details of the upcoming tour here on site and on Twitter.

photo credit: Tinker Sailor Soldier SpyToronto Public Library Special Collections, That Hartford Guy,  Jamie In Bytown, 4 Cdn Div/4 Div CA – JTFC/FOIC Cdn Div/4 Div CA – JTFC/FOIC4 Cdn Div/4 Div CA – JTFC/FOIC via photopin cc



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Edited by Cindy Stockman





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