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1959::The Second Royal Visit to Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

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

1959::Queen Elizabeth II and her consort arrive in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

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

Photo Clip: Times Colonist (1959)

Victoria, British Columbia


Only 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 from Vancouver on the H.M.C.S. Assiniboine after a long scenic trip and whistle-stops across the province. They had been travelling for almost a month, meeting the demands of a gruelling schedule. They began with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway on the East Coast and had just officially opened the Deas Tunnel (George Massey) and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Vancouver Island marked the turn-around point of their second Royal Canadian Tour that was sure to top their first by several thousand miles and a few extra days of travel.


1959::Ar Oh Muthl

"Ar Oh Muthl"

Photo Clip: Vancouver Sun (1959)

Vancouver, British Columbia


The royal couple's island story began in Nanaimo's Exhibition Park where 200 members of Vancouver Island's tribes performed a series of ceremonial dances in full traditional dress, a prelude to what was to come next. In front of 8,000 spectators, the Chief Counsellor of Alert Bay 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 time casually walking among the crowd and spent several minutes with Chief Mungo Martin from Victoria, whom she had missed in London the previous year when he personally delivered a 100-foot totem pole that still stands in Windsor Park today.


1959::Queen Elizabeth II accepts a gift of Cowichan Sweaters.

"Cowichan Sweaters"

The Leader-Post (1959)

Regina, Saskatchewan


As a parting gift to the royal couple, 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. Each sweater was made especially for the wearer. Queen Elizabeth's sweater was designed with a thunderbird, signifying power and strength. The Cowichan Sweaters, known and loved by world travellers since the late-1800s, are made of heavy, unbleached and water-resistant sheep's wool hand-spun by women of the Cowichan tribe. Authentic Cowichan Sweaters are still knitted by Coast Salish artisans in the same traditional way and are still made on Vancouver Island.


1959::Queen Elizabeth II's entourage rolls through the town of Chemainus on Vancouver Island.

"Driving Through Chemainus, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: (tbd)


In 1951, on their first visit to Vancouver Island, Prince Philip got behind the wheel of a car and drove himself and his Princess north from Victoria to Qualicum Beach for some much-needed rest. But much had changed on the island since then, and his Princess was now Queen. Thousands of people lined the roads between Nanaimo and Victoria. 6,000 people, including residents of neighbouring Cooper Island and 150 children from the camp on Thetis Island, waited for the royal entourage to pass through the town of Chemainus. The crowds burst with loud cheers as their car came into view and rolled along Willow Street, making its way to the golf course where a light outdoor lunch was waiting for the royal couple on the fourth fairway.


1959::The royal couple arrives in Victoria, British Columbia.

"Arriving in Victoria, British Columbia"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1959)

5,000 people later welcomed the royal duo to Pioneer Park in Duncan, an event they had been looking forward to since they passed Duncan by on their first Royal Tour. But with time pressing on, their journey continued. They stopped at the summit of the famous Malahat Highway to take in the view, then waved at the thousands of people lining the roads as they drove through Goldstream, Langford and finally, downtown Victoria. They had hoped to attend the famous All-Sooke Day in Sooke, BC, but their busy schedule wouldn't allow it.


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

The crowds along Douglas Street were close enough to catch a glimpse of their smiling Queen and her consort, but everyone agreed that the royal couple looked exhausted. Newspapers began to question the point of such a long and expensive tour and pointed out that the invention of flight and automobiles had made long-distance journeys more accessible and accommodating. There was no longer a need for long, arduous royal journeys across the country when the world no longer relied on sails and carriages.


1959::Queen Victoria II is welcomed in Victoria, British Columbia.

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

Photo Clip: (tbd)


As she stood on the lawn of the Parliament Buildings in front of the statue of Queen Victoria, her Great-Great Grandmother and the city's namesake, Queen Elizabeth thanked Victorians for welcoming her once again. Their schedule was filled to the max for two days with parades, garden parties, luncheons, dinners, dancing and military reviews at Beacon Hill Park. Queen Elizabeth's wish was to keep pressing on and not let anyone down, but the gruelling pace of the tour would soon take its toll.


1959::Once-around Clover Point in Victoria, British Columbia.

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

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1959)


A visit to Victoria was never complete without a 'once-around'' Clover Point. 6,000 people flooded the tip of Vancouver Island to wave hello and goodbye at the Queen and her Prince. With smiles for everyone, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip enjoyed a slow drive around Clover Point. It was one of their last public appearances before leaving Victoria the following morning to continue with their second Royal Canadian Tour. The rest of the photo speaks for itself.


1959::A Royal Canadian Navy Royal Farewell Salute

"A Royal Canadian Navy Royal Farewell Salute"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1959)

Photographer: Bill Halkett


Her Majesty's Canadian Navy bid a farewell salute to the royal couple on the eve of their departure. A brilliant panoramic display of fireworks lit up the sky, and illuminated ships stretched the length of the waterfront from Finlayson Point to Shoal Bay. The lights were seen as far as Port Angeles, Washington, across the Juan de Fuca Strait.


1959::The Queen's Route

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

Clip: The Sphere (1959)

London, England


15,000 miles in 45 days. On July 18, the royal couple left Victoria by plane at the Patricia Bay Airport. Their next stop was the Yukon and Canada's Territories. But after only one day, Queen Elizabeth fell ill. She became bedridden for the remainder of their Northern Tour while Prince Philip continued on without her. When she regained her strength, they resumed their schedule in Alberta and headed East in the comfort of their Royal Train. They had planned to return to London by the Royal Yacht but flew home instead. Their second Royal Canadian Tour had finally ended. The trip prompted royal organizers to place fewer demands on the Queen's future tours and to personalize each trip to better suit her character as a Queen who liked to spend time mingling with her people.


1970::Princess Anne and Queen Elizabeth II's Secret Trip

"1970::A Secret Trip"

Photo Clip: Victoria Daily Times (1970)


The royal duo continued to visit the West Coast over the years, including Vancouver Island. Prince Philip occasionally returned on solo trips without his Queen by his side. In 1970, he flew his plane to Vancouver from Mexico to meet up with Queen Elizabeth and Princess Anne. The trio stayed overnight in Vancouver before leaving on a 9-week tour of retracing Captain James Cooke's voyage to Vancouver Island in 1778. It was an unofficial trip to the coast for all three royals, and the press was, for the most part, unaware of their presence. By the time news got around, they were already gone. Five hundred lucky people turned up at Vancouver's airport just in time to see them off.



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