New Brunswick plays host to a muted celebration of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee

·5 min read
Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, as she watches a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft Thursday.   (Paul Grover/The Associated Press - image credit)
Queen Elizabeth II stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, as she watches a flypast of Royal Air Force aircraft Thursday. (Paul Grover/The Associated Press - image credit)

The celebration of the the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's accession to the throne began in New Brunswick's capital with a flag raising and a chorus of God Save the Queen — but the fanfare is somewhat muted, and a local political scientist isn't surprised.

At a ceremony in front of Fredericton City Hall, Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy highlighted the tremendous change that has taken place within Elizabeth II's reign — technological, social and environmental — and the example of service the Queen has demonstrated.

"As we reflect on Her Majesty the Queen's historic reign and the countless ways she's touched our lives, I hope that we are all inspired to give back to our communities and to build on her legacy of cooperation, unity and peace," said Murphy.

CBC
CBC

A lot of progress has been made, said Murphy, but there is still work to do.

"I think she certainly deserves our respect and a tribute," said Dawne McLean, who is organizing a Platinum Jubilee ceremony on Saturday in the Hopewell Cape area.

"Let's face it — she's the only queen most of us have ever known."

Albert County has strong ties to the monarchy, said McLean. It was named for Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria.

As president of the Albert County Historical Society, McLean obtained a grant from Heritage Canada for an event that partly mirrors one held in 1937, to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth's father, King George VI.

A Grade 8 student from each of four schools in the area at the time was invited to plant a royal oak seedling on the grounds of the Hopewell Cape courthouse, then the shiretown of the county.

Submitted by Dawne McLean
Submitted by Dawne McLean

That courthouse is now the Albert County Museum. And one of those "majestic looking" trees is still standing, said McLean. A new oak tree is being planted to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.

One of the "honoured guests" expected at Saturday's ceremony is one of the students who planted the original oak trees, said McLean. She's now 99 years old.

Other special guests expected Saturday include provincial and national representatives of the IODE, a women's service group patronized by the Queen, whose modern-day causes include fighting homelessness and promoting women's equality.

The ceremony starts at 1 p.m. and is expected to include music and a display of royal memorabilia.

McLean has fond memories of royal visits to Moncton, in 1984, when she and her students from Riverside Consolidated got a close view of the Queen along a park path, and in 1957, when she and her uncle and grandmother saw the Queen go through the Main Street subway in a blue convertible car.

Submitted by Dawne McLean
Submitted by Dawne McLean

McLean said she admires the Queen for being "very educated, true and steadfast," and is proud that she considers Canada her second home.

McLean also thinks it's important to do this now for the Queen because there's a sense "times are changing."

"Many people don't feel a connection," she said. "We can't change things that happened that maybe turned people off about the monarchy."

It seems to her that New Brunswick has been "pretty slack" in planning its jubilee celebrations.

Submitted by Dawne McLean
Submitted by Dawne McLean

More events have been organized in Nova Scotia, she said, where the province also created a commemorative medal.

New Brunswick also announced a medal program on Thursday.

The province will award 3,000 Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medals to New Brunswickers who have rendered important service to their communities. A news release said there will be a special focus on pandemic response, reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Peoples, diversity and inclusion, volunteering, Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP and other emergency services, and environmental preservation.

Institution 'difficult to defend'

If there is a comparative lack of enthusiasm in New Brunswick, it could have something to do with a third of the population being Acadian, suggested University of New Brunswick political scientist Donald Wright.

Acadians remember the Deportation of 1755 and tend not to have much affection for the Crown, he said.

Wright agreed the planned events in New Brunswick to mark the jubilee don't seem particularly exciting.

He thinks that's a reflection of the fact that while the Queen is personally popular and respected, the monarchy as an institution is "difficult to defend."

"Inherited privilege is out of step with our modern and democratic sensibilities," said Wright, adding that the Royal Family has been hurt by multiple scandals over the years.

Submitted by Donald Wright
Submitted by Donald Wright

"Prince Andrew being credibly accused of rape did not help."

Here at home, "the ongoing attempt to come to grips with residential schools, has not endeared Canada to its colonial legacies," said Wright.

Historical memory in Canada is changing, said Wright.

The generation that remembers the service of the Royal Family during the Second World War and listening to Christmas speeches from the Queen is getting smaller every year, he said.

"Millennials, Gen-Xers and even some Baby Boomers — have less enthusiasm."

More immigrants are coming from countries with no historical connection to the Queen at all.

It wouldn't be easy for today's political leaders to plan a commemoration, he acknowledged.

"You can't be over the top, but you can't ignore it either," he said.

"Canada still is a member of the Commonwealth and like it or not the Crown still has a legal and constitutional presence in Canada."

Some Jubilee events in the province

A weekend of Platinum Jubilee events has been planned in Saint  Andrews. They include:

  • A pub crawl in on Friday night,  and an afternoon tea Saturday at the Algonquin Resort

  • A performance by the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra at 2 p.m. at the KIRA Amphitheatre at Kingsbrae Gardens and a gala dinner is at 6:30 p.m. at DrewHaven Town & Country.

  • A ceremony at 9 a.m. Sunday at Centennial Park to plant the last of 70 trees being planted around town for the Jubilee, a community church service at 11 a.m. at All Saints Church on King Street, and a community garden party at 12:30 p.m. in front of the Anglican Parish Hall.

In Fredericton, events include:

  • A purple light display at city hall until Sunday.

  • Planting of a "Queen's Platinum Jubilee Grove" of seven disease-resistant elm trees on the grounds of Christ Church Cathedral.

  • A Jubilee concert in front of Fredericton city hall on June 9 at 4:30 p.m.

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