Thank you to geogirl and Wendy 1 for this series of posts!
Read the Preface, here.
Working trip…tasks done
Royal visits are busy and this was no exception – Their Majesties dedicated the Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls, attended the King’s Plate horse race and dedicated Coronation Park in Toronto, inaugurated the Queen Elizabeth Way, an expressway that connects Southern Ontario to Toronto. The Queen also laid the cornerstone of the Canadian Supreme Court building and the King personally granted Royal Assent to nine bills and became the first Canadian monarch to directly meet his Parliament. Together, they dedicated the National War Memorial in front of 10,000 war veterans.
June 13, 1939 was Day 28 of their 31-day tour. The bulk of their 8,377-mile journey was covered by train but that day Their Majesties left the royal train at Newcastle, travelled 108 miles by motorcar over a bumpy, dusty, unpaved road.
Halfway along that slow journey they made an unpublicized stop to have lunch at a small family-run tearoom in a hamlet called Doaktown. Even though this stop was unpublicized, people from near and far lined the roadway to get a glimpse of their monarch and his popular consort. The close-up photo shows them arriving, so elegantly dressed – a reporter stated that the Queen’s outfit was blue – and the hotel owners and staff later told all and sundry that Their Majesties were friendly and kind. The Queen “even” stepped into the kitchen to thank the ladies who prepared the meal.
That one-hour royal visit is probably Doaktown’s greatest claim to fame and there are many residents today who talk about the event of over seventy years ago as if it happened last week. The little girl who presented the Queen with a bouquet of fresh lilacs is still a bit of a local celebrity. The chairs used by the King and Queen were kept and each has a plaque affixed to it so that people will always know that the Queen sat in “This Chair” and the king sat in “That One”.
Refreshed, the royal couple then drove to the provincial capital: Fredericton. Awaiting them at the Legislative Assembly were 15,000 schoolchildren – local children as well as children and youth from a large portion of the province. Wendy1’s mother, father and step-mother and Geogirl’s mother all attended this event of a lifetime. Wendy1’s Mum lived a few blocks from the Legislature but Dad and Mum2 boarded trains in their respective villages with their fellow classmates to attend. Geogirl’s mum (and her Girl Guide troop) travelled 215 km by train – an exciting trip for a 10-year-old who had never been out of her own small village!
The children sat for hours on temporary wooden bleachers, each with their own lunches plus small bottles of milk which were provided for them. Their excitement reached a fevered pitch when Their Majesties finally arrived. It was reported that their roars of “We want the King! We want the Queen!” continued after they had entered the Legislature for a small ceremony of greeting. The din from the children was so loud that windows were closed but still the people inside the Legislature could hardly hear what was being said indoors. Fifteen thousand children are clearly capable of making a tremendous noise!
Photos of their visit to Fredericton (Editorial Note: Unless noted otherwise, the following photos are the exclusive property of the guest authors):
Their Majesties went to the provincial government buildings for the official welcome and then on to lunch at the University of New Brunswick. Then they boarded a smaller, lighter train consisting of a locomotive, four day coaches, and a drawing room car for the short run (77 km) to Saint John where they arrived late in the day. A long gritty, dusty, hot, people-packed day that must have exhausted them. The scenery for them – trees, rolling hills, more trees, potato farmland (to become McCain’s heartland) and a lovely wide river crossed here and there by covered bridges. The next day they were up, the Queen was presented with a handmade quilt (perhaps it is still at Castle Mey or Balmoral?), and then it was on to Nova Scotia for the final leg of their marathon tour.