Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, passed away at the age 96 today.
Portage la Prairie historian, James Kostuchuk, says the city's connection to royalty goes back far. The Duke of York, who became King George V, hunted here, as did his son, Prince of Wales, who became King Edward VIII, the famous king who abdicated the throne to marry the love of his life.
"Probably what most local people would remember, of course, would be the 1970 royal visit during Manitoba's Centennial, where the Queen actually went over to Island Park and mingled with a lot of the local citizens. I've seen photographs of the event. It was extremely well attended. I remember having a conversation with Bill Linden, who was mayor at the time. I asked him what his memories were of the royal visit. He said it was very exciting for him to be, of course, sitting with the Queen of England in a vehicle," says Kostuchuk. "But, he remembered crossing the Island Park Bridge and as you know, the water quality sometimes, well, it's a marsh, and so it often looks green. One of his memories was crossing the bridge and he was worried that the Queen might look down and see the water quality, and that really bothered him."
Regarding the visit to Portage, Kostuchuk says it meant a lot to the people of this city.
"At the time, it's undeniable that our community felt privileged. I know at the time the Queen reached out to many different communities and has continued to do that, including First Nations. In fact, for many people in the First Nations community, the Royal Proclamation is their Magna Carta, and that was an agreement made between the first peoples and the King of England at the time. That tie, for many of them, is maybe a stronger bond perhaps than what they might have with the Government of Canada. These are historical issues, they are politically charged issues," says Kostuchuk. "For me, personally, it's quite something, because I've always known who the Queen was. There's only been one queen for the entirety of my life. She's on our coinage and our stamps. (She's) a very familiar person in my life. I've never met the Queen, but when someone passes like that, it is an emotional thing."
Flags at City Hall have been lowered to half-mast following the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. We join the world in morning her passing and honouring her distinguished lifetime of public service. pic.twitter.com/fgTaeiJxm0— City of Portage (@CityofPortage) September 8, 2022