Upon hearing about the death of Queen Elizabeth, I dug around in the basement and rifled through my old work files and collectibles. I found the press ID tag for my first big official assignment as a reporter for the Fairview Post in July 1978. I had just turned 19, and after a thorough police check, I was handed my badge and sent off to cover the visit by the Queen and Prince Phillip. If I recall, they were opening a provincial park in northern Alberta as part of their Canadian visit. There were only a few reporters allowed and we were posted behind a rope to await the arrival of the Royal Couple. Dignitaries waited to greet them. I was short, and couldn’t see very well so when they did emerge from the car, I ducked under the rope, got a better vantage point and took photos. It was a second later, a hand gripped my elbow and a security officer asked me what I was doing. “Taking pictures.” I was ushered firmly but politely back to my spot behind the rope. It’s not like I had a digital camera and could check the image I hoped I had, but back in the darkroom at the newspaper, there it was: Her Majesty greeting Fairview Mayor Jim Reynolds, and the Queen shaking the hand of the mayor’s wife Doris as she curtsied. There was Premier Peter Loughheed and his wife Jeanne following on the carpet. Not great, but it did make the front page.
I remember, too, after being put back in place, listening to the Royals chat to the people lined up along the path. One included a very excited little girl who stood beside me. As the Queen approached, I thought the little girl might just levitate and float, she was that thrilled. The Queen stopped and asked her where she lived. “Hines Creek!” the girl gushed. “Hines Creek,” the Queen said. “How wonderful. Do you like living there?” “Oh yes!” “That is lovely. It is important to love your home.”
As I remembered that exchange, I also thought of the occasion in Saskatoon when then Prince Charles came to walk along the Meewasin Trail down at the weir. 2001, I think. There were speeches, and he was presented with a willow walking staff. The future King accepted it graciously and said, “Oh, a stick! How wonderful!”
In May 2005, my husband Rick, son Jim and I walked over to the University of Saskatchewan campus to see the Queen and Prince Phillip as they toured the new Canadian Light Source. We were struck yet again to think how much the Queen and Rick’s mother looked alike in later years. We miss them both as dependable constants in our lives.