Tuesday, July 6, 2010

143 Years

July 1st was Canada Day, our 143rd Birthday.

It was a special one this year, as the Queen, Elizabeth II, came for one of her whirlwind visits, her 22nd to Canada. She spent time in Halifax (in the pouring rain) to join the Canadian Navy in the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the fleet, and she and Prince Philip were in Ottawa on the 1st for the Big Day. We were one of the lucky cities to host the Royals this visit. It was a whirlwind - they spent just a little over 6 hours in Winnipeg on Saturday, July 3, flying in to our new airport around noon (not quite finished yet in case anyone is planning to fly in any day soon) and leaving at 6:30 in the evening from 17 Wing, the Air Force Base close to our place.

I have never been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to see our Queen and jumped at the chance when a close friend, who works on the Base, invited me to be there to say goodbye to Elizabeth and Philip. Because we were on the base and admittance was restricted there were only about 150 of us and we didn't get all that close, but I think I was probably nearer to her than several of the 10,000 who waited at the other stops in the City.

It was fascinating watching the preparations for what was probably all of a 15 minute 'out of the car onto the plane' stopover ..

The flags were flying,

and the Mounties were there

plus many members of other police forces.

The steward was waiting

as were the pilots

and some of the 'dignataries' were getting very wet

The man in the wheelchair is our Member of Parliament, Stephen Fletcher. He is a quadripelegiac after a run-in with a moose in his teens (okay, I know, how Canadian can you get!) and a special area has been prepared in the House of Commons in Ottawa to accommodate his wheelchair, and his assistant, who is with him at all times.

The suitcases and hat boxes were carried on board

as were some of the flowers that were collected throughout the day.

The Honour Guard arrived,

got into position and everyone was ready.

The Royal couple arrived right on schedule. Prince Philip was out of the car first (love the hat, and he needed it as it was drippingly hot earlier in the day) and then we saw the Queen!

Off they went up the ramp for the final wave


and then they left, off into the sunset (theoretically speaking, as it was pouring at this point!)

I think this woman is amazing! She is 84, during her visit to Canada this year she has been rained on, she has roasted in temperatures that were well over 30 degrees, she has walked for miles in definitely not sensible shoes for a woman in her eighties, and yet she still smiles and always looks cool and perfectly groomed. It was sort of fun watching them load the airplane with the luggage - there really is such a thing as a hat box!

It seems silly, but it was a big thrill, and it was worth getting absolutely soaked!!

Long Live the Queen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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