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Our visit to see the Queen!

On Thursday, October 10th, 2002, our family went to see Her Majesty the Queen of Canada at Copps Coliseum, in Hamilton, Ontario. We were invited to this event because we are members of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, a group with small branches all across the country whose ancestors fled from what is now the United States in the late 1 700s because they wanted to remain under British government and remain faithful to the King of England. We were honoured to be included in the large crowd at this event.

We were the first people in line when we got there. Soon it was time to go inside. It was cool to be the first ones of 17,000 people to go through the doors and sit down in our seats, section 212, row 11. Yes, our seats were pretty much in the nosebleed section, but we didn't care. We were given a very nice pin to wear, a little flag to wave, and a program outlining the event. While we were waiting for the main event to begin, we were entertained by the Dave Murphy Band, which played '50s rock and roll and then Indian style music by Mast-Mast. Then they had some awesome dance groups -- the O'Raighne School of Irish Dance, the Zorba Dancers (Greek), the Schiehallion Scottish Dancers, and the Ugandan family Dancers -- that was cool. They were very talented! There were also several songs played by the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band. They have won numerous awards for their performances.

Then the Jubilee Cultural show started with an Opening Prayer by Chief Roberta Jamieson of the Six Nations of the Grand River. It started with "Lord, Creator of all things, we thank you for this wonderful day. We are all thankful for Her Majesty, the Queen of England, and her husband, Prince Philip ...." It was a very long prayer because she said it in her language too. Then the Lost Dancers of the Six Nations came out and did a Pow-Wow style dance. Two young boys came out as well and did a traditional smoke dance. Next, a new young country singer, only twenty years old, named Victoria Boland came out and sang, "I will Remember You." Her voice was awesome. Then two representatives from Cirque Eloize (a small group from the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil) came out and did a twisty sort of dance / gymnast act, followed by another member who did an acrobatic show on a large rope, twisting his body around the rope in all sorts of different ways. Then a Native singer named Susan Aglukark came out and sang, "Osiem -- We are all Family" and the Native Dancers danced all around her! Then, to finish this part of the show, the Jazz Band played one more time.

The purpose of the Queen's visit to this event was the Presentation of New Colours (flags) to the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. Her Majesty has been Colonel in Chief of this Regiment since 1950. They have had their Old Colours since July 1959 when she presented them on Parliament Hill in Ottawa at that time. The ceremony began. The Highlanders' Pipe and Drum Marching Band led the Scottish troops in, in three groups of about 25 soldiers. The bagpipes played as the soldiers marched in perfect lines and took their places around the floor. The Commander belted out orders we didn't really understand and the soldiers followed his commands with precise detail. Then they stood very still. A few soldiers of higher ranks formed themselves in a pattern around a square piece of Argyll plaid fabric (blue and green plaid) that was on the centre floor. They took the Old Colours out of their stands and handed them to two soldiers on one side of the plaid. The bagpipes played "Auld Lang Syne" by Robbie Bums, as t he two soldiers, followed by all the troops, marched the Old Colours out of the stadium.

They all marched back in again and took their places once more. The drummers from the marching band placed their drums in the middle of the plaid to form an altar and then the pipes played another song while the New Colours were marched in and placed over the drum altar, on opposite angles, to form a cross. Three religious leaders, representing the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, said prayers. They were now ready to have the Queen bless the New Colours and present them to the Regiment. The band played several more songs while we awaited the Queen. As we were waiting, a soldier from the Regiment fainted! Unfortunately, he had to be carried out of the stadium. It was announced that the Queen would be a little late. As the minutes passed, the crowd became increasingly anxious; cheering, screaming, waving the little flags, and even doing 'the wave'! The students from the local schools were doing anything to catch the attention of the TV cameras that were covering the event 'live', in hopes of seeing themselv es on the Jumbotron in the centre of the stadium. Then they announced that the Queen's motorcade was approaching the building and the crowd went crazy!!

As Her Majesty appeared in the entrance, the band began to play 'God Save The Queen', and 17,000 people jumped to their feet and began to sing! She walked along the red carpet that was laid out for her, in her royal-purple dress and matching brimmed hat. She wore black gloves, black shoes, carried a black purse, and looked very fashionable. She arrived at a small stage at the centre of the red carpet pathway where another piece of Argyll plaid fabric had been secured. She was then escorted by the Commander to the drum altar where she removed the new Colours and gave them to the waiting soldiers. She returned to the little stage and began her speech in both English and French. The 17,000 were now silent as they hung on every word she spoke. We noticed how strong her English 'accent' was and how her French was excellent! She was very serious as she addressed the Regiment at this most important ceremony. She spoke of their rich history and of their many contributions to the protection of Canada in the two World Wars, citing specific battles where they were victorious. She congratulated them for their 100 years of service, as they will begin their Centennial celebrations later this year. She explained the design and colours of the New Colours and explained what the various symbols on the Colours represented and why they were chosen and then she blessed the New Colours.

The Regiment then marched their New Colours past Her Majesty for the first time and the Pipe and Drum Band played a new song called "the Colonel-in-Chief's March" that was written for this occasion. Then the soldiers returned to their positions and gave a Royal Salute followed by the singing of "O Canada." It was a proud time to be a Canadian! She then dedicated the Argyll Commemorative Pavilion.

Sheila Copps, Minister of Canadian Heritage, spoke next, thanking Her Majesty for her genuine interest and affection for our country. Then after this, the Queen proceeded on a short walkabout, smiling and greeting people along the way. She stopped to listen to a young boy as he chatted away to her and took time to speak to the several war veterans who were present, as well as the families of the Regiment soldiers. Two small children from the Regiment's families presented her with flowers -- then the Queen left from the other end of the stadium.

After she was gone, the soldiers marched their New Colours around the stadium while the pipe and drum band played. It was a bit sad that her visit was over so quickly, but it was also very exciting to have seen her in person, not just on the television. No one knows if she will ever return to Canada again while she reigns so this may be an event that will never happen again in her lifetime, or in our lives, so we feel blessed to have been a part of Her Majesty's Jubilee Celebration visit to Canada.

Editor's Note:

Emma Sturm is a Grade 8 student and her sister, Ava, is in Grade 6. They attend Orchard Park Elementary School in Niagara Falls. Both excel in swimming, music, and art, and Ava also enjoys ballroom dancing. They attend UELAC meetings regularly. When their family hosts Japanese students, the visitors learn all about the Loyalists! Thanks to Noreen Stapley UE for passing along this information.
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Author:Sturm, Emma; Sturm, Ava
Publication:The Loyalist Gazette
Date:Mar 22, 2003
Previous Article:In praise of her Majesty.
Next Article:Christ Church, Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks.

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