TOUR OF CANADA: THE 1939 ROYAL VISIT OF KING GEORGE VI AND QUEEN
Images), 2002. ISBN 1-894073-37-1, 128 pages, paper, $19.95.
This 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. Johns 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
THE ROYAL TOUR OF CANADA:
Rae Fleming has done a remarkable job re-focussing the
cameras 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."
SELLING PRICE: $19.95
Rae B. Fleming
1606 Rd 46, Woodville ON, K0M 2T0 CANADA