In 1983, upon leaving California for British Columbia, Queen Elizabeth II said: “I’m going home to Canada tomorrow.” British Columbians came together and welcomed the Queen with extraordinary warmth and enthusiasm a total of seven times, six as the sovereign.
Oct. 8 to Nov. 12, 1951 – At the age of 25, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, undertook a five-week coast-to-coast tour of Canada. As part of the tour, the royal couple visited Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. While in Vancouver, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited with veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital, planted an oak sapling in Queen Elizabeth Park, and watched a football game at the University of British Columbia and a lacrosse game on the PNE grounds. In Victoria, they attended a ceremony at the Parliament Buildings and inspected cadets at Royal Roads Military College. They made a brief stop in Nanaimo and spent a few private days in Qualicum Beach. Three months after leaving Canada, Princess Elizabeth would begin her reign as Queen Elizabeth II.
June 18 to Aug. 1, 1959 – In the summer of 1959, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh set out on the longest royal tour in Canadian history. They officially opened the St. Lawrence Seaway and visited all provinces and territories over the span of 45 days. The royal train stopped in several B.C. cities enroute to the Lower Mainland, including Golden, Revelstoke, Kamloops and Spences Bridge. The Queen officially opened the Deas Island Tunnel (later renamed the George Massey Tunnel), and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. While in Victoria, the royal couple attended a garden party at Government House. In Nanaimo, Queen Elizabeth II was bestowed the name “Ar-Oh-Muthl” or “Mother of All People” by the Coast Salish people. The royal couple briefly stopped in Terrace before heading to Whitehorse.
May 3-12, 1971 – Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and their daughter, Princess Anne, marked the centennial of British Columbia’s entry into Confederation, visiting several B.C. cities. In addition to the many walkabouts, the tour included a bathtub derby in Nanaimo, a stop at Fort Steele Heritage Town near Cranbrook and a rodeo in Williams Lake. The Queen attended a citizenship ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver and officially opened Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.
March 8-11, 1983 – Following their U.S. west coast tour, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh spent four days in B.C. An estimated 15,000 people packed Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the grounds of the B.C. Parliament Buildings to welcome the royal couple. While in the capital city, they visited Christ Church Cathedral, Craigflower School, watched cadets put on a parade at Royal Roads Military College, and attended a concert at University of Victoria. The Queen attended a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site of Canada Place and broadcast an invitation to the world to attend Expo 86. Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia sailed into Nanaimo, escorted by a flotilla of bathtubs. Later, Queen Elizabeth II flew to the Interior to celebrate Vernon’s 90th anniversary. Before flying home to London, the pair visited New Westminster.
Oct. 9-24, 1987 – Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh made a private visit to Qualicum Beach before participating in the opening sessions for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Vancouver and Victoria. During this visit, the Queen unveiled the new, updated Coat of Arms for British Columbia. The remainder of the 16-day tour was spent in Saskatchewan and Quebec.
Aug. 13-22, 1994 – Over 10 days, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Nova Scotia, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. While in B.C., the Queen officially opened both the Commonwealth Games in Victoria and the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, and she visited Canadian Forces Base Comox. She also spent some private time on Twin Island.
Oct. 4-15, 2002 – Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh spent 12 days in Canada touring Nunavut, B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick in celebration of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. While in Victoria, they attended a Sunday service at Christ Church Cathedral and the Queen unveiled a stained-glass window in the B.C. Parliament Buildings designed in honour of her 50 years on the throne. The window features many of B.C.’s provincial symbols. In Vancouver, the Queen dropped the ceremonial puck at an exhibition National Hocky League game between the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks.