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1959::Queen Elizabeth's Second Visit to Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Updated: Mar 21

The royal couple on their second visit to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.


1959::Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Arrive on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo, British Columbia

"1959::Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Arrive on Vancouver Island in Nanaimo, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: Times Colonist (1959)

Victoria, British Columbia


On July 16, 1959, Queen Elizabeth II and her consort, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in Nanaimo, British Columbia, to a welcoming crowd of thousands. They had sailed across the Strait of Georgia on the H.M.C.S. Assiniboine after a scenic trip across Canada to Vancouver on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Along their journey West, they officially opened the St. Lawrence Seaway on the East Coast and in Vancouver, the Deas Tunnel (George Massey) and Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Vancouver Island marked the turn-around point of their second Royal Canadian Tour.


1959::Ar Oh Muthl

"1959::Ar Oh Muthl"

Photo Clip: Vancouver Sun (1959)

Vancouver, British Columbia


The island's second royal tour began in Nanaimo's Exhibition Park, where 200 members of Vancouver Island's First Nations People performed a series of ceremonial dances in full traditional dress. The Chief Counsellor of Alert Bay then inducted Queen Elizabeth II into the Coast Salish tribe as a Princess, an honourable title that the Queen graciously accepted along with her new name, 'Ar Oh Muthl' meaning 'Respected by all - Mother of all people.' The royal couple then spent several minutes with master craftsman Chief Mungo Martin from the island's Kwakwak'awakw people, whom she had missed in London the previous year when he gifted her a unique totem pole to mark the centenary of the province. His 100-foot masterpiece still stands proudly today in Windsor Park, England.


1959::Cowichan Sweaters

"1959::Royal Cowichan Sweaters"

Photo Clip: The Leader-Post (1959)

Regina, Saskatchewan


As a parting gift, the Chief of the Coast Salish presented Cowichan Sweaters to Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip with additional sweaters for their children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. The Queen's handcrafted sweater was made especially for her with a thunderbird design, signifying power and strength. The Cowichan Sweaters, known and loved by world travellers since the late 1800s, were made of heavy, unbleached, water-resistant sheep's wool hand-spun by indigenous women of the island's Cowichan Valley. Coast Salish artisans of Vancouver Island still knit authentic Cowichan Sweaters today.


1959::Driving Through Chemainus, British Columbia

"1959::Driving Through Chemainus, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: (tbd)


While on their first visit to Vancouver Island in 1951, Prince Philip borrowed a car and drove his Princess to Qualicum Beach for some much-needed rest. Their royal time-out was a rare stunt never destined to be repeated. The island had changed since then, and the Princess had become Queen. Thousands of people now lined the roads between Nanaimo and Victoria, hoping to catch a glimpse of Her Royal Highness. Residents of Chemainus, who had waited for hours, cheered when the royal entourage passed through their town along Willow Street, heading towards the golf course, where a light outdoor lunch awaited them on the fourth fairway.


1959::Arriving in Victoria, British Columbia

"1959::Arriving in Victoria, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1959)

Victoria, British Columbia

On their drive to Victoria, the royal couple made quick stops at Pioneer Park in Duncan and at the summit of the famous Malahat Highway. After taking in the spectacular view, they continued their drive, waving at the crowds in Goldstream and Langford. Although they had hoped to attend the famous All-Sooke Day on the southwest coast of the island in Sooke, their busy schedule would not allow it. It was time to visit Victoria.


1959::Crowds gathered on Yates Street to see Queen Victoria II in Victoria, British Columbia.

The crowds along Douglas Street stood close enough to the passing royal entourage to catch a glimpse of their smiling Queen and her Prince. Everyone agreed that the royal couple looked exhausted. Newspapers began to question the point of such a long and expensive tour when the invention of flight and automobiles had made long-distance journeys more accessible and accommodating. The days of long, arduous royal journeys across the country, when the world no longer relied on sails and carriages, were becoming a thing of the past.


959::On the Lawns of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia

"1959::On the Lawns of the Parliament Buildings in Victoria, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: (tbd)


For the first time as Queen, Elizabeth addressed the crowd on the lawn of the Parliament Buildings in front of the statue of Queen Victoria, her Great-Grandmother and the capital city's namesake. She thanked Victorians for welcoming her once again, and for two days, they entertained the royal couple with parades, garden parties, luncheons, dinners, dancing, and military reviews at Beacon Hill Park.


1959::The Royal Couple at Clover Point in Victoria, British Columbia

"1959::The Royal Couple at Clover Point in Victoria, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1959)

Victoria, British Columbia


Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip enjoyed a slow drive around Clover Point on the last day of their Vancouver Island visit. Thousands of Victorians had flooded the area, hoping to wave their last goodbyes at the royal couple. It was their last public appearance before leaving for the Yukon Territory, where they would begin the second half of their second Royal Canadian Tour.


1959::A Royal Canadian Navy Royal Farewell Salute

"1959::A Royal Canadian Navy Royal Farewell Salute"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1959)

Photographer: Bill Halkett


On the eve of her royal departure, Her Majesty's Canadian Navy bid a farewell salute from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A brilliant panoramic fireworks display lit up the sky, illuminating the navy ships below that lined the waterfront from Finlayson Point to Shoal Bay. It was a royal event so bright that it was enjoyed by American neighbours across the Strait in Port Angeles, Washington.


1959::The Queen's Route: The Royal Tour of Canada

"1959::The Queen's Route: The Royal Tour of Canada"

Clip: The Sphere (1959)

London, England


The royal couple left Victoria's Patricia Bay Airport by plane and flew to the Yukon Territory, where they began the second half of their Royal Canadian Tour. After their first day, however, Queen Elizabeth fell ill and was bedridden. Prince Philip continued alone without her until she regained her strength. They resumed their schedule in Alberta and completed their tour on the East Coast.


1970::A Secret Trip

"1970::A Secret Trip"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1970) Victoria, British Columbia


During the late Queen's reign, the royals visited the West Coast of Canada whenever they could, and Prince Philip found occasions to return alone without his Queen. In 1970, he flew his plane from Mexico to Vancouver to meet up with Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne, who had secretly arranged an overnight stay at Hotel Vancouver. Their secret visit went almost undetected until a photographer checked in at the same hotel and recognized the royal trio. By the time word got out, only a small crowd was quick enough to see them off at Vancouver's airport, where they began their unofficial 9-week vacation tour of retracing Captain James Cooke's 1778 voyage to Vancouver Island.



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