Freeholder at 175: Royal visit stops in Cornwall

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One of Cornwall’s most notable visitors has been Queen Elizabeth II.

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The Queen had visited Cornwall and SDG on several occasions: in 1959 she visited Cornwall as part of a long royal tour, where she opened the St. Lawrence Seaway and stayed at the Cornwallis Hotel . In 1967 she was photographed by the Standard-Freeholder signing the Town’s Guest Book with Prince Philip, and in 1976 she visited Upper Canada Village.

One of the most publicized visits came on the 1984 Royal Tour, which was also Cornwall’s bicentennial. Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth arrived in Cornwall on Thursday, September 27 and for several days before their arrival, and for several days after continuing the last leg of their tour (Ontario was their last stop), the Standard-Freeholder covered this event extensively.

The front page of the Standard-Freeholder, September 24, 1984.
The front page of the Standard-Freeholder, September 24, 1984.

On September 24, 1984, the Standard-Freeholder title boasted: “Queen, Prince Begins Visit to Canada.

On that date, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip arrived in Moncton, New Brunswick, and were greeted with sunny skies and a 21-gun salute. It was the start of their 14 day Canadian visit.

On September 25, 1984, the Standard-Freeholder had several sections of the newspaper dedicated to Her Majesty, including a photo collage depicting snapshots from her various visits to Cornwall, SDG and Montreal over the years.

As part of the many writings, Ricky Lapierre, then 9, was interviewed. Lapierre was the Easter Timmy who would present flowers to the Queen upon arrival at the Civic Complex.

It has been cited as being so sad that the July 17 royal visit was canceled so the federal election could take place. He expressed his frustration by stating that “John Turner [deserved to lose] the election after postponing the Queen’s visit to Cornwall! “

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Page 9 of the Standard-Freeholder of September 25, 1984.
Page 9 of the Standard-Freeholder of September 25, 1984.

In another September 25 article, the city’s public works crews were noted as “scouring the area, making sure the city presents the best possible face for the royal visit.”

Simon Seguin, who was the director of public works at the time, said crews had been out early all week “to examine the route the procession was going to take, clean it up and put up flags to brighten up the city.”

In a column, local staff editor Valerie Marshall wrote about how and where locals might get a glimpse of the Queen, outlining her route and pit stops.

Most notable stops included: The Municipal Complex, where the Queen and Prince were to be greeted by Ontario Housing and Municipal Affairs Minister Claude Bennett and then Cornwall Mayor Gerald Parisien. After the complex, the royal couple were to visit Trinity Anglican Church, accompanied by an RCMP mounted escort. At the church, the plan was for them to take a short visit, followed by a pit stop to see the tombstones of four ward members in the adjacent cemetery.

  1. The Standard-Freeholder homepage of February 15, 1997.

    Freeholder at 175: Valentine’s Day fire destroys downtown monument

  2. The first page of February 7, 1929, Cornwall Standard.

    Freeholder at 175: The Great Flood of 1929

  3. The Roger Caron article on April 5, 1979, Standard-Freeholder.

    Freeholder at 175: Roger Caron, Cornwall’s misunderstood celebrity

Of all the pit stops and tours on their route, the cemetery tour was the most interesting for me, having wandered through this cemetery several times myself!

Besides columns, interviews and photographs, the diary was filled with announcements from various companies and groups welcoming the Queen and Prince to our city. Some of the companies and groups that announced their welcome messages included: The St. Lawrence Power Company, Bicentennial Board of Directors, Lally-Blanchard Heating and Cooling, Holiday Inn, McDonalds (both locations), Domtar and dozens of others.

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The front page of the Standard-Freeholder on September 27, 1984.
The front page of the Standard-Freeholder on September 27, 1984.

On September 27, 1984, the front page mentioned “the arrival of a small cheering crowd. Cornwall welcomes the royal couple.

The royal couple arrived five minutes later than expected, but the 3,000 citizens who gathered to greet them didn’t seem to care. Six OPP officers on motorcycles and three cars of security personnel followed the royal couple to the complex.

Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1984 was one of the greatest moments in Cornwall history. This event was well captured and recorded by local newspapers, and citizens of all age groups are fondly remembered.

It doesn’t matter who you ask or who you talk to, I’d bet that person has photos in their own family albums of the Queen’s visit.

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