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Royal Tours

In Canada, British royals had conducted their tours by train since the Prince of Wales's highly touted visit in 1860. Even after Confederation, the royals still intrigued many Canadians. The visits of the Duke of York in 1901, and the Duke of Connaught in 1906, were popular with the public. But the Royal Tour of 1939, by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, took Canada by storm.

Brochure of the Grand Trunk Railway, 1906, reading TOUR OF HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE ARTHUR OF CONNAUGHT Title page of brochure of the Grand Trunk Railway, 1906, talking about the royal tour, with a Canadian coat-of-arms


Grand Trunk Railway, 1906, cover and title page


Excerpt of a silent film showing the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Toronto, May 22, 1939
(running time: 1 m, 8 s)

[RM 2,072 KB] Download Freeware


Brochure of the Canadian Pacific Railway, 1939, reading WELCOME TO THEIR GRACIOUS MAJESTIES, with the British royal coat-of-arms Frontispiece of brochure of the Canadian Pacific Railway, 1939, with an illustration of the locomotive used on the 1939 royal tour


Canadian Pacific Railway, 1939, cover and frontispiece

It was the first visit to Canada by a reigning monarch. Even though the country was still in the throes of the Depression, town and cities all over Canada decorated their buildings, issued souvenirs and wrote speeches to mark the occasion. Thousands of people, from miles away, came to see the couple as the royal train passed through their region. The timing of the tour was no accident. War was becoming imminent in Europe and the visit served as a gentle reminder to English-speaking Canadians of their ties to the motherland and imperial duty. The trip took 44 days and was conducted almost exclusively by train: on the CPR heading west and on the CNR returning east.

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