Queen Elizabeth’s Top 10 Canadian Milestones
What role has Canada played in the Queen's record-breaking 69-year reign? As we approach Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2022, here's a look back at her majesty's most memorable moments, from a uniquely Canadian perspective.
1952 – Long live the queen
Princess Elizabeth is at a fishing lodge in Kenya with her husband of four years, Prince Philip, when she learns her father, King George VI, has died in his sleep at the age of 56. (Check out these rarely-seen photos of young Elizabeth and her father.) Suddenly finding herself Queen and head of the Commonwealth—including Canada, of course—she immediately boards a plane back to England.
1953 – The Coronation
On the day that 27-year-old Queen Elizabeth is officially anointed and crowned, 900 members of the Canadian Forces are among the military guarding the parade route or taking part in the procession to Westminster Abbey. Back in Canada, “God Save the Queen” has been translated into French for the coronation festivities so Quebec royalists can join in.
1957 – A first Canadian tour
Though the then-princess had travelled across Canada with Prince Philip in 1951, her first visit as Queen comes six years later. In Ottawa, she declares Parliament in session and becomes the first reigning monarch to make the Speech from the Throne. (Find out more things Queen Elizabeth II actually has the power to do.)
1959 – The opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway
In Canada for a whopping 45 days (her longest tour on record), Queen Elizabeth II visits all of the provinces and territories. She takes the opportunity to officially open the St. Lawrence Seaway to commercial traffic—in the presence of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
1967 – Canada turns 100 and the world comes to Expo 67
Arriving at Montreal’s Île Notre-Dame by sea on the royal yacht Britannia, the Queen and Prince Philip head straight to the Great Britain pavilion, followed by lunch at the Canadian headquarters and a tour of the exhibition by minirail. The royal couple later spends the night at her namesake digs, the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. (Check out more Canadian hotels that have hosted royal guests.)
1976 – The Montreal Olympics
In July, the Queen opens the Olympic Games in Montreal. It’s a family affair: her daughter, Princess Anne, is a member of the British equestrian team. (More than three decades later, Princess Anne’s daughter, Zara, will follow in her mother’s footsteps and compete at the 2012 London Olympics.)
1982 – Canada gains irrefutable independence
With a beaming Pierre Elliott Trudeau at her side, Queen Elizabeth signs the proclamation of the Constitution Act in Ottawa. With this document, Canada now has the power to amend its own constitution without appealing to the British Parliament.
1994 – From sea to shining sea
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip kick off a 10-day coast-to-coast visit in Nova Scotia, then travel cross-country to the Commonwealth Games in Victoria. They also make a quick trip north to Rankin Inlet to watch Inuit dancers before flying to Iqaluit, Nunavut.
2002 – Facing off at centre ice
During her Golden Jubilee tour, the Queen wins over sports fans when she drops the ceremonial puck at a game between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks. Hockey royalty Wayne Gretzky and Cassie Campbell are also in attendance. Here’s why Queen Elizabeth will never give up the throne.
2010 – Her final Canadian tour
In year 58 of her reign and visit No. 22 to Canada, Queen Elizabeth fetes the navy’s centennial, the country’s 143rd anniversary and the dedication of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. Less auspicious in hindsight: during a walkabout of the Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters of tech firm Research in Motion, she is gifted a white BlackBerry Bold. Remember those?
Next, check out the 10 most memorable royal tours of Canada.