Toronto lowers flags, CN Tower dims as city mourns Queen Elizabeth's death

·4 min read
A smiling Queen Elizabeth waves to a happy crowd of onlookers at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto on June 26, 1973. While at the CNE, the Queen and Prince Philip were entertained by various dance troupes and choirs. (The Canadian Press - image credit)
A smiling Queen Elizabeth waves to a happy crowd of onlookers at the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto on June 26, 1973. While at the CNE, the Queen and Prince Philip were entertained by various dance troupes and choirs. (The Canadian Press - image credit)

Flags are lowered and Toronto's CN Tower dimmed as politicians and public figures across the city mourn the loss of Queen Elizabeth II.

Buckingham Palace announced the Queen's death at 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, saying she died peacefully at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96.

The Monarch, who marked seven decades on the throne earlier this summer, made seven visits to Toronto between 1957 and 2010 as Queen. Before that, her first visit to Toronto was in 1951 as Princess Elizabeth, when she came in place of her father King George VI, who was ill at the time.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the Queen was a "beacon of eloquence, stability and commitment to duty."

Tory said during her time spent in the city and in Canada, many people including him had the opportunity to meet her and "witness her quick wit, grace and wonderful smile.

"So many of us have known no other Queen. She was the one constant and reassuring presence in our own country and on the world stage — over so many decades," Tory said.

"Across Toronto, our thoughts are with the King and all the members of the Royal Family at this sad time."

The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press

In a statement issued after the Queen's death was announced Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he joins everyone across the province, country and the world in commemorating her remarkable life.

"Throughout her historic reign, she taught us the true meaning of selfless service and was respected and admired for her sense of duty and commitment to charity," the statement reads.

"On behalf of all Ontarians, I am sending our thoughts and prayers to the entire Royal Family, the people of the United Kingdom and to Her Majesty's many admirers all over the world."

Ford also expressed condolences to King Charles III on the death of his mother, while also congratulating him on his ascension to the throne.

"[I] wish him great success in continuing his mother's legacy," Ford wrote.

Municipalities across Ontario, including Mississauga, Brampton, Newmarket, Markham and Aurora, have lowered their flags to half-mast.

Flags will also be lowered at Toronto city hall and the Ontario Legislature. The CN Tower and the Toronto sign will be dimmed Thursday evening.

Musical artist Elton John paid tribute to the Queen at his final Toronto show, calling her an "inspiring" presence in his life.

In a written statement, King Charles III, the queen's eldest son, said it is a moment of "the greatest sadness" for the Royal Family and those who supported the queen for decades.

"I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world," he said.

Ontario's legislature is set to pay tribute to the Queen on Wednesday. Government House Leader Paul Calandra moved for the adjournment of the house until then.

"It is my sad duty to inform the house that Her Majesty the Queen has died. Long live the King," he said, his voice breaking with emotion.

The thoughts and prayers of all Canadians are with the Royal Family, he said.

For Jonathan Brickwood, co-chair of the GTA branch of the non-profit organization the Monarchist League of Canada, the news of the Queen's death was in one way a blessing.

"We have known that she has been in declining health for quite a while now," Brickwood told CBC Toronto.

"She died peacefully, as the announcement said, and I think that is how we all want to pass."

Brickwood says he saw the Queen and waved at her when she was in Canada in the early 2000s. He called the experience a "wonderful occasion."

He says her death felt similar to losing his grandma. Despite the loss, he says the future of the Royal Family will still be strong.

"I think that she has left a very strong foundation for the now King Charles, and the future King William, and all subsequent generations after that," said Brickwood.

Canadians are now able to share messages of sympathy for the Royal Family in an online book of condolences, which can be found on the federal government's website.

Here's a look at some of the visits Queen Elizabeth made to this city:

City of Toronto Archives
City of Toronto Archives

During her visit in 1951 as princess, excited crowds greeted her and Prince Philip, according to the City of Toronto archives.

The Queen's first visit to the city as head of state was in 1959 during a tour of Canada.

City of Toronto Archives
City of Toronto Archives

She and Prince Philip attended the 100th running of the Queen's Plate at Woodbine racetrack and visited Old City Hall.

The Queen returned to Toronto in 1973, 1984, 1997, 2002 and 2010.

Aaron Harris/The Canadian Press
Aaron Harris/The Canadian Press

Tory said the city had a "long and warm" relationship with the Monarch.

Over the years, the Queen granted royal patronage to many city-based organizations, including the Toronto French School, the Canadian National Exhibition Association and the Queen's Plate.

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

"The Queen will be profoundly missed," Tory said.

"We will be reminded of her through landmarks around our city, including the Queen Elizabeth II Building and Queen Elizabeth Theatre at Exhibition Place, rose gardens named in her honour at Queen's Park and Grange Park and the Diamond Jubilee Promenade."

WATCH | A collection of highlights from the Queen's visits to Canada from 1957 to 2010:

Adrien Veczan/The Canadian Press
Adrien Veczan/The Canadian Press
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press
Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press
Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press
Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press
Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press