Calgarians gather to mourn the Queen and honour her legacy

·3 min read
Britain's King Charles III, left, and Princess Anne walk behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as they leave Westminster Abbey in London after the funeral service on Monday. (Ben Stansall/The Associated Press - image credit)
Britain's King Charles III, left, and Princess Anne walk behind the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as they leave Westminster Abbey in London after the funeral service on Monday. (Ben Stansall/The Associated Press - image credit)

The bell at Calgary's Historic City Hall rang 70 times at noon on Monday.

That's 70 times for the seven full decades that Queen Elizabeth II served her people.

In the morning, some Calgarians gathered to watch Canada's commemorative ceremony in honour of Her late Majesty at the Municipal Plaza.

The city set up seating and aired the commemorative ceremony from Ottawa's Christchurch Cathedral, followed by the ceremony from the grounds of the Alberta Legislature.

"I've been up all night watching this on TV, so I just had to come down and pay my respects," said former army medic Keith Purdy.

Helen Pike/CBC
Helen Pike/CBC

"She did very well. Seventy years is never gonna be beat. I thought it was beautiful. I mean, it's a part of history. I mean, not very many people get to see the passing of the Queen and their crowns and everything."

Purdy says he not only swore his allegiance to the Queen during his time in the military, he was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

It's something Purdy says he holds very dear to his heart.

Honouring parents and heritage

Queen Elizabeth was on the throne for the entirety of Rita Erven's life up until this month. The resident of Claresholm, Alta., is now in her 60s and hadn't seen another Canadian monarch since the day she was born.

She watched the funeral at home with her mother, Dorothy.

"It feels like quite a monumental occasion, that she's gone," said Erven. "The Queen has always had such a special place in both our hearts, I think, and it's the end of an era, the end of her reign.… It's just hard."

Erven's grandparents were both English. Her mother said she watched the service to respect her parents and their heritage.

"I'm really doing this in honour to my mum, because she was so English, and my dad was, too," Dorothy said. "I've always been very interested, and they've taken us back to England to see what's going on there."

Dorothy said that just as her parents took her to England, she took her kids there as well.

Representing Calgary in London

While the majority of Albertans who watched the funeral tuned in to the televised event, some attended in person.

"It was a really beautiful service. It's something to walk the full length of Westminster Abbey as part of the Order of Canada delegation among all the other orders within the British realm," said Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury on the Calgary Eyeopener.

"People lined up for days to see, of course, the former Queen, in the coffin. And there it was in front of us, you know, coming through the doors of Westminster and then back out. It was really touching. It certainly made me tear up with emotion."

Tewksbury said that being at the event in person really made him feel the weight of the moment and the significant changes the world will begin to see.