NOTE: The following is a feature story from the Nova Scotia Archives.
As Nova Scotians prepare for the arrival of Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, memories of royal tours of the past can be relived at the Nova Scotia Archives.
Longtime archivist Garry Shutlak says the archives has photos of members of the Royal Family taking part in activities in Halifax from as far back as 1860.
“The current Prince of Wales’s great-grandfather, H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenburg, known later as Louis Mountbatten, had a strong Nova Scotia connection,” says Mr. Shutlak. “He lived in Halifax from 1869-1873 as a midshipman on the Royal Alfred, the flagship of Vice Admiral Fanshawe.”
The prince returned to Nova Scotia in 1905 as captain of the HMS Drake. It wasn’t considered an official royal tour, as he was rear-admiral and commander of the Second Cruiser Squadron at the time. He attended a dance during his stay and the dance card from the event is part of the documented history at the Nova Scotia Archives.
The prince also experienced the exhibition at the old Forum grounds, toured the North Stars boat club on the North West Arm, and attended a service at St. Georges Church. It was the same church the current Prince of Wales visited in 1983, and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, visited in 1994, while it was being restored.
This current Prince of Wales is the third to visit Nova Scotia. The first, in 1860, was Edward, who later became King Edward VII.
During his tour, he donated the Prince of Wales Cup, which is still an important part of the heritage of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, and contributed the Prince of Wales coat of arms on the building at the corner of Duke Street in Halifax, the current site of Boston Pizza.
Prince David, who was later Edward VIII, visited as Prince of Wales in 1919, which was a time of hope for the city of Halifax. He visited Richmond Heights, the Hydrostone district, which was still under construction after the devastation of the Halifax Explosion two years earlier. He toured many of the houses there, no doubt hearing many stories about the people impacted by the tragedy and of the kindness of the people who quickly came to their aid.
As part of this weekend’s royal tour, His Royal Highness will plant a tree beside an oak tree planted by his grandfather King George VI.
Mr. Shutlak says the Nova Scotia Archives has a photo of one of two tree plantings in June 1939. King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth planted a tree near the corner of Morris and Summer streets as hundreds of people watched. There is no photo of the Public Gardens planting, but there is a plaque where the tree was planted.
The Archives does have a photo of the Royal Couple taking a walk through the gardens, which was published by the Globe and Mail on Saturday, June 17, 1939. The caption reads: The King and Queen are seen with members of the Royal party strolling through the famous Public Gardens in Halifax as one of the impromptu departures from their official program in Halifax at the conclusion of their wearying tour across Canada and back.
The Nova Scotia Archives also has a colour video clip from 1939 that shows the C.P.R. ship Empress of England leaving Halifax at the end of the visit. Although the clip does not show the King and Queen, it has spectacular images of escort ships and seaplanes accompanying the Royal Couple’s vessel on a tour of Halifax Harbour before heading out.
“The entire team here at the Nova Scotia Archives hopes Nova Scotians enjoy the Royal Visit, and wish Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall an unforgettable warm welcome to Nova Scotia,” said Mr. Shutlak.
To view photos, visit the Nova Scotia Archives Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152408638795816.1073741852.75374835815&type=1 .
To explore more historic images, visit the Nova Scotia Archives’ website at http://www.novascotia.ca/nsarm/ .