Toronto's Historical Plaques
Learn a little of Toronto's history as told through its plaques
The Royal Tour of 1939
Photos and transcription by contributor Richard Fiennes-Clinton - Posted February, 2011
Photo Source - Wikimedia Commons
Located in a garden between the west side of the Provincial Legislature and Queen's Park Crescent West is an Ontario Heritage Trust plaque. Here's what it says:
Plaque coordinates: 43.662400 -79.392667
The Royal Tour of 1939 was the first visit to Canada by a reigning British monarch. Between May 15 and June 15, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth travelled by train across the country. They arrived at the North Toronto Station on May 22 and, at Queen's Park, Lieutenant Governor Albert Matthews and Premier Mitchell Hepburn welcomed Their Majesties to the provincial capital. Throughout their visit the king and queen were greeted with brilliant pageantry and crowds of cheering spectators. The Royal Tour released an outpouring of loyalty and affection for the monarchy and support for Great Britain.
> Posted July 2, 2011
I would not want to drag the fine work that Mr. Brown has done in assembling this much needed inventory of historical plaques into what often becomes a dissembling debate on Canada's Constitutional Monarchy. There are forums that are much more suited for this type of thing. Certainly, you are entitled to your views on the relevance or value of the Canadian Monarchy, but the fact that remains that the Monarchy is a Canadian institution, both by the current legal structure of our country, and by tradition. Canada is a constitutional monarchy; it's a plane and simple fact because the Queen remains our Head of State. Further, Canada has always been a Monarchy, even before it existed as Canada. Therefore, the suggestion that our form of national government be replaced by anything else (say, a republic, headed by a president), is "foreign". Even casting aside that the monarchy is the only form of government that Canada has ever known, what is wrong with taking inspiration from "foreigners"? We are a nation shaped and built by "foreigners". Xenophobia seems, at least to me, to not be a very attractive Canadian virtue. Looking over the historical development of our nation, going back hundreds of years, I would be more inclined to say that Canada has been grafted to the Royal Family. Love it or hate it, take your pick, but the monarchy has always been a part of Canada's national identity. As a monarchist, I do not identify myself as a "Royal Watcher"; you can keep your Royal Wedding memorabilia, but leave me the liberal, democratic ideals that are enshrined in those progressive countries around the world that are, today, led by Constitutional Monarchies. Not to mention the fact that George VI and his wife led not only the British people, but us Canadians, and peoples from all over the world during a war that was not only in defense of Britain, but indeed in defense of the ideals of democracy and freedom throughout Europe and around the world. Again, I comment with apologies to Mr. Brown; it is not my intention to detract in anyway from the wonderful work you've done in presenting information on the hundreds of plaques around our city. Congratulations on a job well done!
> Posted April 9, 2011
This plaque was an orphan for years. Unveiled in 2002, bearing the "Ontario Heritage Foundation" name, it was originally to stand at Summerhill (North Toronto) Station. Land ownership changes put that plan on hold until this spot was suggested. If we must have official expressions of royal infatuation--THREE rose gardens(?!)--at least they're all clumped together in a rarely-seen end of the park. There's no problem with the text referring to George VI as a British monarch. He was visiting as one, to shore up support here for a looming war in defense of Britain. Then again, if the inscription exposed the true incongruity of a "first visit to Canada by a reigning Canadian monarch", it might highlight the absurdity of grafting a foreign monarchy onto this country, and help usher a long-overdue change. Royal fawning is fine. Pick up a Will and Kate ashtray if you like--just don't impose the House of Windsor (a town in England, after all) on our independent nation. They're not of us.
> Posted February 6, 2011
Thanks for posting! It is wonderful to see a plaque commemorating this event, in an area of the Legislative Assembly grounds that seems given over to other such Royal commemorations. The plaque is near a set of twenty-five rose bushes that were laid for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. Another set of twenty-five rose bushes were laid for the Golden Jubilee in 2002, and space has been designated for a future garden, for the Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The only disappointment comes in the wording of the plaque. The first sentence refers to the "first visit to Canada by a reigning British monarch". It would have been an ideal opportunity to refer to "Canada's monarchy". After the passing of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, George VI was, of course, Canada's monarch, independent of his association with all of the other nations of the Commonwealth (just as his daughter, Elizabeth II, is today). In any case, thank you for posting the plaque! If I happen across any more, I will be sure to send them your way.
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