'The end of an era': Canadians react to the death of Queen Elizabeth II

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Most Canadians have never known a world in which Queen Elizabeth II wasn't their official head of state.

News of the longest-serving British monarch's death sent shock waves of grief across Canada on Thursday. From political leaders, to royal officers, to everyday citizens, Canadians remembered the sovereign as a paragon of duty and enduring part of the national fabric.

"I think she'll be remembered as one of the country's greatest icons," said Robert Finch, chairman of the Monarchist League of Canada. "The constant in the world of change."

Premiers and lieutenant-governors from coast to coast touted the Queen's personal connection to their provinces over her dozens of visits to Canada during her record-breaking reign.

The Queen's frequent presence showed that she was far more than a figurehead in Canada, said Finch, and paid close attention to the country through the good times and the bad.

"She was not a fair-weather friend," said Finch. "She was truly here as one of us."

Canadians will process the 96-year-old's loss at their own pace as they reflect on the "end of an era" and try to anticipate what lies ahead as King Charles III ascends to the throne, Finch said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2022.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press