writer, researcher, editor, lecturer


R.B. (Rae) Fleming


(Toronto: Lynx Images), 2002. ISBN 1-894073-37-1, 128 pages, paper, $19.95.

The Royal Tour of CanadaThis wonderful pictorial book reveals Canada's past with photographs of a vanished era. The 1939 Royal Tour was the first time that a reigning monarch visited Canada, and millions of jubilant citizens from Victoria to Halifax, as well as St. John’s in the Crown Colony of Newfoundland, lined up to see their King and Queen. The tour is credited with turning "O Canada" into our national anthem. The event was equally important to the Great Britain and to the King and Queen. According to Fleming, "Queen Elizabeth later claimed that Canada had made them, and that was true. The reception in Canada gave them self-confidence, especially for the shy King." Because the monarchy's real power declined during the late 19th century, it had to reinvent itself. Queen Elizabeth played the role of the new and accessible Queen. She reinvented the monarchy by humanizing it. And she used still and moving pictures to communicate her special charm and majesty to millions of admirers. The tour itself was a weather vane, indicating the direction in which Canadian loyalty to the Mother Country was blowing.

During royal tours, the camera lens is normally focussed on the monarchs. This book of photographs, however, also turns the lens around to look at Canadians. Rarely-seen images show the enthusiastic faces of ordinary citizens, veterans and dignitaries, the cities in which they lived, the security surrounding the tour, and the cameramen who captured this sweeping event in photographs and movies. The book provides fascinating insights. How did the news makers of the late 1930s conduct themselves? What were the logistics of organizing the tour and providing security for the Royals as they interacted so casually with the public? Most interesting are the behind-the-scenes details. Rarely are conversations with royalty reported, but at the end of each day, Prime Minister Mackenzie recorded the day's discussions with the King and Queen. His revealing diaries, along with papers of the Secretary of State and Governor General, newspapers and biographies of King George and of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, bring us into the heart of a celebration that is still etched into the memory of many Canadians.


Royal Tour “Rae Fleming has done a remarkable job re-focussing the camera’s eye. The historical and cultural significance of the pivotal 1939 Royal Tour is put into the intimate context of average Canadians. An important book – and I speak as a rabid anti-monarchist!” (Will Ferguson, historian, novelist and 2002 winner of the Stephen Leacock Award).

“The Preface alone gives an amazingly comprehensive vignette of the Crown and Canada. It should be compulsory reading in all Secondary School courses on Canadian history, not least of all because of its thesis that one individual, the Queen, by using a happy combination of good attitude and good skills, was able to give a new and powerfully positive form to an ancient institution.” (Munroe Scott, playwright, novelist, biographer and film maker).

"Je suis loin d'être monarchiste mais j'avoue avoir aimé [The Royal Tour of Canada] qui nous dévoile des aspects cachés de ces événements." (Éveline Boudreau)


For further information contact
Rae B. Fleming
705-439-2337 or 1606 Rd 46, Woodville ON, K0M 2T0 CANADA

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