1939 Royal Visit of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth
THE bHILLl'WACK PBOGfiESs", Sunday, Joly 30, 2000 9 The Progress r -r mT- 1939 Royal Visit: King George VI Queen Elizabeth From the files of the Chilliwack Museum The 1939 Royal Visit was politically important as the threat of war loomed over Europe. In 1938, Germany's dictator, Adolph Hitler annexed both Austria and the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. The goal of the royal visit was to reaffirm the ties between Canada and Britain. These bonds were reflected in the pageantry and demonstrations of loyalty that occurred across Canada wherever the tour stopped or passed through. On May 31, the King and Queen stopped on their eastern return journey in Chilliwack. Considerable anticipation existed as the assembled crowd, estimated at 15,000 people heartily cheered the pilot train that ran ahead of the royal train. An hour later at 5:14 the crowd was informed that the royal couple had just Queen Elizabeth, seen here holding her spray of pink roses, accompanied by Mary A. (Endicott) Barber, wife of Mayor Charles A. Barber (right) during the royal visit, May 31 , 1 939. Photograph by Ernest H. Pearson, donated by his daughter Lorna (Pearson) Shaw. Photograph COURTESY OF THE CHILLIWACK ARCHIVES. passed Arnold, only 5 miles west of Chilliwack. A minute later the crowd was further stirred when they heard the whistle from Engine 5117 that brought the royal train into the station. The crowd burst with excitement as the engine arrived at 5:24. The roar of the crowd did not quell but reached its peak as their majesties descended down the rear platform of the observation car. For eighteen minutes the roar did not subside while over four thousand school children franticly waved flags. Once on the station platform, Mayor Charles Barber and his wife, Mrs. C.A. Barber, greeted the King and Queen and Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King. Together they walked to the grandstand and once there the bands led the crowd in "God Save The King". With the end of the music, instantly the crowd cheered with delight. Several local dignitaries were introduced to the King and Queen including Mr. and Mrs. David Richardson whose son, James, had been posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War. Presentations were made of an illuminated address, from the citizens of the municipality and the city, and a bouquet of pink roses for the Queen. The next thrill for the crowd occurred when the King and Queen chose to mingle with the crowd. The King asked Mayor Barber, "Would it be possible for me to go down among these people?" With considerable interest, the King recognized and spoke with A.S. Conway who had been a physical instructor at Osborne School on the Isle of Wight where the King had been one of his students. The King spoke with several veterans, who were present in force including a 300-man Canadian Legion Guard. The Queen in turn spoke with former nursing sisters and Volunteer Aid Detachment members. The scheduled ten-minute event went on for eight extra minutes and with their majesties' departure many Chilliwack residents were left with lasting memories of having caught fleeting glimpses of the King and Queen. The Royal Tour was a success across Canada and in the United States where the Royal couple toured for a few days. The Prime Minister's desire to reinforce the ties that existed between Britain and Canada were successfully reaffirmed as the patriotic outpouring by the Canadian public demonstrated. Although many Canadians may not have recognized, at that time, the political importance of the tour, the stage in Europe would shortly ignite.