Guest blog: Queen and Country
Canada has always been a second home for the Queen, ever since she and husband Prince Philip first visited in 1951. “Nowhere under the sun could one find a land more full of hope, of happiness, and of fine, generous-spirited people,” then-Princess Elizabeth declared after that first tour. “[Canadians] have placed in our hearts a love … which will always draw us back again.”
She would echo that sentiment almost 50 years later as she stood in Halifax on her 22nd visit to Canada and observed: “It is very good to be home.”
The Queen and Philip have been everywhere imaginable, from the biggest city to the smallest settlement. Twelve Canadian prime ministers have served under her, from Louis St. Laurent to Justin Trudeau. Over the past six decades, she’s left no stone unturned (or perhaps that should be no tree unplanted!).
Here in Canada, we’ve honoured her in many ways -- with ceremonies, statues and gifts, as well as special commemorative editions of HELLO! Canada! But an even more lasting legacy can be found in the Canadian landmarks that bear her name. Here are five of them.
1. Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver
Named: After the Queen’s mother, Queen Consort Elizabeth, in 1939, on her visit with husband King George VI
Claim to fame: The horticultural jewel in Vancouver’s crown, this 130-acre park attracts six million visitors a year (rivalling Stanley Park) thanks to its tropical plants, fountains, sculptures and magnificent mountain-capped views. The Queen received a joyful reception here in 1951, when she and husband Prince Philip undertook their first coast-to-coast tour of Canada.
Don’t miss: The breathtaking Bloedel Conservatory, which has won conservation awards and is home to 120 free-flying tropical birds; the “Dancing Waters” fountain; and Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture “Knife Edge – Two Piece.”
2. Queen Elizabeth Ranges in Jasper, Alta.
Named: In 1953 (with Her Majesty’s approval) to celebrate the Queen’s coronation
Claim to fame: The Queen Elizabeth Ranges are a spectacular array of mountains in the Canadian Rockies, on the southeastern side of Jasper National Park. Upon their dedication, the mountains were described by officials as “one of the most perfect pictures of Alpine grandeur -- bold rocky forms, ice and snow gleaming against a blue sky, dark forests and a sapphire blue lake -- a fitting memorial to the Queen.”
Don’t miss: Outlook Cabin, aka the Royal Retreat, at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. King George VI and then-Queen Consort Elizabeth gave it the royal seal of approval in 1939. Destroyed by a fire in 2000, it was recreated from the floor plans of the 1930 original. The Queen and Prince Philip enjoyed a brief getaway there on their 2005 tour.
3. Queen Elizabeth II Gardens in Regina
Named: In 2005, when the Queen visited for Saskatchewan’s centennial celebrations
Claim to fame: Overlooking Wascana Lake, the expansive grounds, which house the Saskatchewan Legislative Building, were designated a National Historic Site in the year of the Queen’s visit. In 2012 -- the same year as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee -- the gardens were revived with a $1.3-million upgrade. The gardens’ Trafalgar Fountain was a gift from Britain in 1939, when it replaced London’s two Trafalgar Square fountains with bigger ones. (This fountain’s twin is in Ottawa.)
Don’t miss: The bronze equestrian statue of the Queen. Created by Susan Velder, the sculpture depicts Queen Elizabeth II riding her favourite horse, Burmese (the Saskatchewan-born steed famously given to her by the RCMP), in her annual birthday parade. It’s a fitting location for this rare statue: “Regina” is Latin for “Queen.”
4. Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal
Named: In the mid-1950s (when it was built by the Canadian National Railway) to honour the Queen’s coronation -- despite fierce objections from Quebec nationalists
Claim to fame: Three generations of Windsors, including the Queen Mother, Prince Charles and the Queen herself, have stayed here. Other illustrious guests have included Joan Crawford, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who staged their famous “bed-in” here to protest the Vietnam War in 1969.
Don’t miss: The hotel’s grand reopening this summer, in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary and Montreal's 375th. According to the hotel’s website, the $140-million renovation blends “contemporary decor with a vintage flair reminiscent of Montreal’s golden years.”
5. The Queen Elizabeth II Library at Memorial University, St. John’s, Nfld.
Named: In 1978
Claim to fame: On her third visit to Newfoundland in the 1970s, the Queen turned the sod on the university’s grounds for what would become the Queen Elizabeth II Library, a gem of ’70s architecture. Memorial was founded in 1925 in tribute to Newfoundlanders who lost their lives on active service during the First World War and, later, to those who fought and died in the Second World War. The connection is meaningful to the Queen as commander-in-chief of both the British and Canadian armed forces.
Don’t miss: The library’s First Space Gallery, which displays the work of emerging artists. The university notes: “The gallery's location in the library reminds us that both books and art are necessary to the soul.”
What's your favourite place with royal resonance? Let us know in the comments.