The Royal Tours of Canada

Anticipation of the Cambridge’s upcoming tour to Canada is building up as we wait for Kensington Palace to officially announce the dates. This certainly is not the first Royal Tour to Canada and won’t even be the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first trip.

The first royal tour took place when Prince William (later to be William IV) visited in 1786 when he was lieutenant of HMS Pegasus where he was based at the Halifax Naval Yard. His 21st birthday, 21 August 1786, was celebrated on his ship off the coast of Newfoundland.

Royal tours continued by royals such as Edward VII and Prince George of Wales among others but without the modern transportation, it made the long journey difficult. However, in 1901 RMS Ophir delivered Prince George (George V), his wife (later to be Queen Mary) and 20 others. The tour covered all of Canada with highlights such as the opening of the Alexandra Bridge (named after Queen Alexandra), visiting with First Nations in Calgary and the opening of the science building at the University of Manitoba.

1939 marked the first time a reigning monarch stepped foot in Canada when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited.

Queen Elizabeth II first visited Canada as Princess Elizabeth with her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh in 1951 where they toured a large portion of Canada; Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Alberta to be more exact. In 1957, Her Majesty gave her first television address in Canada where she appointed the Duke to her Canadian Privy Council. Around 50,000 people showed up to see The Queen open the 23rd session of parliament. Yet, Canada decided to downplay the typical pageantry of opening parliament due to the financial situation at the time.

By Unknown photographer. National Film Board of Canada. Still Photography Division. [Public domain or CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Unknown photographer. National Film Board of Canada. Still Photography Division. [Public domain or CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

“The Queen’s role in Canada, it appeared to some observers, hinged on calculated pageantry, just enough to warm the pride of Canadians who revere tradition and stateliness above state but not so much as to antagonise those who consider royalty a blindingly off-colour bauble in an age of lean fear.” was the way it was described in Maclean’s magazine.

In total Queen Elizabeth has made 22 official visits and many are hoping that she will make at least more next year to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, although with Her Majesty cutting down on her duties Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall may step in for her. Prince Charles has been on Canadian soil officially 15 times.

Just after their 2011 nuptials, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge undertook their first tour as a couple to Canada. Dubbed the “honeymoon tour”, William and Kate made stops in Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Charlottetown, Summerside, Yellowknife, and Calgary. Just as other royals have done before them, the couple will complete staples such as laying a wreath at the National War Memorial, planting a tree at Government House, and celebrating Canada Day on Parliament Hill.


By tsaiproject [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This time around William and Kate have added two to their family who are expected to join them. The family will spend time on the west coast of Canada, visiting British Columbia and the Yukon. Keep your eyes on Royal Central for all the updates and live coverage of the events.