- Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s head of state, passed away on Thursday, September 8, at 96 after 70 years on the throne.
- During her life, Queen Elizabeth II visited Alberta six times. Her first visit to the province was in 1951, when she was Princess Elizabeth.
- On August 1, 1978, the Queen and Prince Philip visited the Peace Country as part of their 12-day, three-province tour of Canada. While in Grande Prairie, the Queen turned the sod at the site of the future Queen Elizabeth II Hospital. (Story below)
- Her most recent visit was during Alberta’s centennial year in 2005. On May 24, 2005, she addressed the Legislative Assembly of Alberta in the Chamber, becoming the first reigning monarch to do so.
It was a big day for the Grande Prairie region when, on August 1, 1978, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived as part of their Alberta tour in honor of the XI Commonwealth Games held in Edmonton. Grande Prairie was one of the stops for the Queen and Prince Philip in their 12-day, three-province tour of Canada.
The royal couple arrived in Grande Prairie at 11:35am. They were met by the local MLA for the region, Dr. Winston Backus, and his wife.
As soon as the royal couple landed, they were driven to where the future Queen Elizabeth II Hospital would be built. The Queen, along with Prince Philip, Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed and City of Grande Prairie Mayor Al Romanchuk, then turned the sod on the new building project and unveiled a plaque to dedicate Grande Prairie’s first pioneer hospital.
For lunch, the royal couple proceeded to the Grande Prairie Regional College, where they watched a performance and met with the Board of Governors. The Queen and Prince Philip then met various local dignitaries, including Miss Grande Prairie Barbara Vavrek as well as 94-year-old Maude Proffitt.
During a demonstration by the Battle River Saddle Club, the Queen repeatedly laughed out loud at the young members of the club who kept tumbling off their “horses” and became entangled in sacks in a combination of foot and horse race. The Queen and Prince Philip were joined by local senior citizens and First World War veterans at the event.
Romanchuk then presented the Queen with a painting of the Peace Region by artist Robert Guest.
At 2:15pm, the Queen and Prince Philip would leave Grande Prairie for Peace River. Their itinerary also included a visit to Lac Cardinal Park, now Queen Elizabeth Lac Cardinal Park, near Grimshaw. There, they met with Chief Harry Chonkolay who presented her with leather gloves. He laid out buckskin for her to stand on in the same manner his ancestors had for the representatives of Queen Victoria when Treaty 8 was signed. Chief Chonkolay is from the Bushe Reserve near High Level.
By the end of the day, the royal couple were back in Edmonton for a performance at the Citadel Theatre, and at the opening of the XI Commonwealth Games.
Information comes from the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal and Ottawa Journal.