It might not seem like the death of a monarch could have an impact half a world away, but for a former Burnaby resident, there is a personal connection.
Remembering the Queen's visit
Local historian Jim Wolf was living in Burnaby when Queen Elizabeth II visited in 1971.
“It’s personal to me because I remember being on Canada Way as a little kid, waving at the Queen as she drove by; me and my Oma standing on the side of the road,” he recalled. “It was such a big deal.”
Crowds lined Canada Way as the Queen’s motorcade made its way from New Westminster to Burnaby City Hall.
“When the Queen went by, she looked right at us and gave us a big smile and a wave,” Wolf said. “I’ll never forget that moment.”
As soon as the motorcade went by, Wolf said everybody jumped into their cars and drove to Burnaby Municipal Hall.
“I’m not kidding — hundreds, if not thousands of people followed that motorcade, and then everybody got out at city hall,” he said. “There were thousands of people there to welcome her to Burnaby.”
Wolf said a visit from the Queen was a big deal for New Westminster and Burnaby residents as those were “pretty simple” days.
“It still lives in my memory. I can see everything so clearly, and I think that for a lot of people, it was such a big moment,” he said. “People remember; people really remember it. It was such a special moment in time that people talked about.”
Queen Elizabeth visits Burnaby
On that sunny May day in 1971, about 6,000 people in Burnaby showed up to the municipal hall to catch a glimpse of the Queen.
But the visit didn’t come cheap.
The Columbian newspaper’s reporter Sydney Orpwood stated “By general agreement, the Royal visit to Burnaby was worth every penny of the controversial $150 per minute it was estimated to cost.”
$150 in 1971 would be worth $1,093 today.
The visit lasted just over 20 minutes (the budgeted cost was about $3,000 in 1971 currency, or $21,871 today).
Wearing a coral coat and matching hat, the Queen walked the grounds of the old city hall and justice building, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries, as Prince Philip walked behind her.
The princess in Burnaby
The Queen and her husband had been to Burnaby at least once before — in 1951, when Elizabeth was still Princess Elizabeth.
She met Reeve William R. Beamish at Burnaby Municipal Hall on Edmonds Street and Kingsway.
At the ceremony, Princess Elizabeth was presented with the “Gold Key,” then the city’s top merit award only given to individuals in recognition of “their excellent work on behalf of the city’s residents.”
A little over three months later, Princess Elizabeth became Queen on Feb. 6, 1952. She was 25 when she ascended the throne and reigned for 70 years.
Her eldest son Prince Charles — now King Charles III — will assume the throne.
The City of Burnaby has lowered flags at civic buildings in honour of the Queen.
—with files from Theresa McManus, New West Record