King George VI in Vancouverby
It may just be my English blood, or the fact that I saw a great movie recently, but I have become increasingly interested in the visits of British royalty to Vancouver throughout the last century.
It was in the summer of 1939 that His Royal Highness King George VI toured across Canada with his consort Queen Elizabeth, “to bolster trans-Atlantic support in the event of war, and to affirm Canada’s status as a self-governing kingdom sharing with Britain the same person as monarch.” Vancouver was included in the trip by rail and the regal pair stopped at the CPR station in Gastown, City Hall, New Westminster, and Surrey.
While parks, theatres, and schools bear the name Elizabeth or Elizabeth II today, King George VI has but King George Boulevard (formerly King George Highway & Peach Arch Highway) and subsequently King George SkyTrain station in Surrey named in his honor.
King George VI passed away in 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His wife Elizabeth – or as I she was referenced when I was growing up, The Queen Mother – took kindly to Canada and visited more often than others on official and private trips. She was even quoted as telling two war veterans in Quebec, “I am a Canadian!”
His Majesty’s name may not be emblazoned on the title line of plaques or building names in Vancouver however his visit in 1939 was monumental. George IV and Elizabeth II officially opened the Lions Gate Bridge on May 26, 1939 and in 1958 a statue was carved of the king, which now stand by the Woodward Biomedical Library at UBC.
If you have some extra time one day, and if you search very carefully, you may even find the King George VI oak tree that was planted near Brockton Point in Stanley Park on May 12, 1937 on the day of his coronation.
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I have 8mm home movie footage taken by my grandfather of the King and Queen rolling through Vancouver streets in 1939. Not as clear as these official photos, of course, and silent, of course. But still very cool.
One small correction. It’s Her Majesty the Queen, not Her Royal Highness.
Great photos and history lesson – I’m keen to see the movie now.
It was fun coming across you blog this evening. Only a couple hours ago I was talking to my father and he was reminiscing about King George’s visit. My dad was 19 at the time and he and his younger brother were at the City Hall early that morning waiting for the King’s arrival. My dad was and still is a huge supporter of King George VI and had nothing but good things to say about him. My dad is sure there was a large panoramic photo taken of the event and believes he can be seen in the photo, but so far I haven’t had any luck finding it. According to my father there was a photo studio on Granville that was selling them for a hefty price. I would love to get my hands on that picture. Thanks again for the photo and your blog on their visit.
Great historical piece. My great auntie remembers seeing them drive down Main street. There are pictures in The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and The Fairmont Empress in Victoria of their visit in 1939.
Great historical piece! Are those photos from the Vancouver or provincial archives?