Prince William and Kate Middleton’s eight day 2016 tour of Canada is under way. The royal couple touched down at the Victoria Airport in British Columbia on September 24 with their two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Walking hand in hand as they made their way off the plane, they were greeted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire. Later that evening, the duke and duchess attended an official welcome ceremony at the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.
The first royal visit to Canada dates back to 1786. The Prince William (later William IV), made numerous visits to Halifax between 1786 and 1789 while serving as lieutenant and later captain of HMS Pegasus part of the Royal Navy’s North American Station based at the Halifax Naval Yard . On 21 August 1786, he celebrated his 21st birthday on his ship in the waters off Newfoundland.
Starting in the 20th century, modern modes of transportation allowed for easier travel across the oceans. Two of the many visits remain memorable to older folks still living.
The 1939 royal tour of Canada was a cross-Canada royal tour by George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It was one of the first visits of a reigning monarch to Canada. It began 17 May 1939, and saw the royal couple visit every Canadian province as well as the United States and the Dominion of Newfoundland.
In 1959, following earlier visits, Queen Elizabeth II returned to Canada and toured every province and territory of the country; Buckingham Palace officials and the Canadian government opted to dub this a “royal tour”, as opposed to a “royal visit”, to dispel any notion that the Queen was a visiting foreigner. In touring the country, she specifically directing that events she attended should be public, rather than closed luncheons or receptions; further, popular Canadian athletic stars were invited to royal events for the first time, so that during her tour the Queen met with Jean Beliveau, Sam Etcheverry, Maurice Richard, Punch Imlach and Bud Grant.
Now a new generation visits, continuing a tradition more than two centuries old.