'It's a terrible loss': P.E.I. remembers Queen Elizabeth

Lindsay Gallant and her family laid flowers in Queen Elizabeth's memory in front of Government House Thursday evening.  (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)
Lindsay Gallant and her family laid flowers in Queen Elizabeth's memory in front of Government House Thursday evening. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)

Islanders continue to grieve and remember the life of Queen Elizabeth, less than 24 hours since the news came of the monarch's death at age 96.

Charlottetown-based lawyer Horace Carver describes himself as a student of history with an interest in the British Royal Family, describing the Queen's death as "a terrific loss."

"Just a remarkable individual, the likes of which we'll never see again," he said.

He said he was shocked to hear of the monarch's death, since just two days ago she was welcoming new British Prime Minister Liz Truss.

"What a terrific way to go. Quickly and not lingering," said Carver.

"She provided leadership, I believe, in these speeches that weren't very frequently given during COVID and several other times she went to the airwaves and she said things that drew us all together, made us hopeful, inspired us, made us think there would be better days."

Carver was justice minister under the Progressive Conservative government of former premier Angus MacLean from 1979 to 1981 (in fact he was touted to replace MacLean as premier), and vividly recalls MacLean telling him all about the Queen's visits to P.E.I. in 1951 and 1959.

'Truly a queen' 

Carver first saw Queen Elizabeth when she visited P.E.I. in 1964 to open the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, noting "not that she saw me, I was just a teenager!" He saw her again when she visited Prince Edward Island in 1973, but never did meet her.

Rick Gibbs/CBC
Rick Gibbs/CBC

He did get very close to her though. It was one night in 1982 when the Queen came to Ottawa to proclaim Canada's Constitution Act. Carver was representing P.E.I. at the ceremonies and was invited to a gala.

"Afterwards, she walked down and the crowds just opened wide," he said, recalling her gorgeous yellow dress. "I said, you are truly a queen ... just a very special person."

Carver is a staunch monarchist and believes Queen Elizabeth's voice, rising above those of contentious and partisan politicians, has been a unifying factor during war and peace. Thinking the best of people and taking a long view has meant she has been encouraging to her family and the nation, he said.

Carver said her legacy for him personally is to remind him of "the importance of doing good, providing leadership and looking at the long haul."

'A wonderful lady'

Nelson Hagerman is the past president of P.E.I.'s Commonwealth Society, and had the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth as the husband of a former lieutenant-governor.


"It's a terrible loss," Hagerman said. "She's done a fantastic job during her reign. She's done a lot for the Commonwealth and the country and the world, actually."

The Hagermans met her at Buckingham Palace when his wife Barbara was being installed.

"It was awesome to be in her presence, She was a wonderful lady and so welcoming," he said. "She was very friendly, outgoing."

Hagerman recalls the Queen telling Barbara how her life was going to change, just as hers had when she was a young mother and her father died suddenly. Elizabeth was crowned in 1953.

Hagerman said he thinks it will be important not to forget the Queen and her legacy of service, even though Canada will have a new king. He said he believes her successor, Charles, has been monarch in waiting long enough that he will follow her example and not try to shake things up.

"Will it change, yes, it probably will. Will some countries decide they don't want to be part of the Commonwealth? I hope not.

"Some people think it's a useless concept — I think it's a unifying force for the country."