Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday April 9, 2002
A Queen for Canada
A snap of history’s thread, a chunk of Canada’s past cut adrift. It will get harder now, with Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon gone, to remember who we were and what our national problems were six decades ago when she first came here as a queen. To remember what her importance was to Canada’s story of the day.
To view the country as it was in May, 1939 — when the CPR’s Empress of Australia and four accompanying naval ships sailed up the St. Lawrence River, bringing Elizabeth and her emperor-husband, King George VI, to Canada for a four-week visit — is to look at a quaint curiosity. Like a photograph of one’s parents, much younger, sweetly smiling, dressed in old-fashioned clothes.
The king’s assistant private secretary, Alan (Tommy) Lascelles, saw Canadians thus: “They sing ‘God Save the King’ as if it really was a prayer.”
Our prime minister’s behaviour, as always, was interesting.
William Lyon Mackenzie King recorded in his diary that the late king, George V, had visited him in spirit form to tell him the reason George VI and Elizabeth were coming to Canada was “due to their affection for you.”
Most engaging of all was how Mr. King, for whom the adjective “wily” eternally seems appropriate, so skilfully used the presence of the king and queen in Canada — especially the media-savvy, charismatic queen — to address Canada’s perpetual difficulties around national unity, French-English fissures and, above all, recognition by others of Canada’s sovereignty. (CP)