Ric Hall’s The Royal Tour 1959

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Our friend Veteran Fred Stark is still going through his old photographs and sent along these two photographs of members on motorcycle escort for the Royal tour of 1959.

 

 

 

Fred was obviously impressed by the members in their Red Serge and those scrunched up “traffic” Forage caps, because he noted this in his message that he sent along with the photos; “It was a time when the idea of becoming a Mountie started to form in my mind.”  

Of course the first thought that comes to mind is who are the members on the motorcycles and we could do another “Who Are These Members?” article.  Upon digging deeper into the vault of historic photos I came to realize that the Royal Tour of 1959 was one of the biggest the Force had to provide security for up till that time. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived in Canada to attend the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, have quick visit to Chicago and tour all provinces and territories of Canada in a six-week time frame. It was a well kept secret that the Queen was pregnant and this did not become known until the tour hit Yukon.

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1959 – RCMP Motorcycle escort (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

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In June, The Queen and Prince Philip embarked at the mouth of the St Lawrence River aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia for the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. They were joined on board by President Eisenhower and Mrs Eisenhower as well as Canadian Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker and his wife.

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For any member who has been involved in VIP duties you know the hours can be long and in 1959 there was no such thing as overtime. Much of the work was done in Review Order and having to move from one location to another, pack and unpack, and slap some polish on the old Sam Browne and Strathcona boots for the next event!

Edited from: “A Yukon Nugget by Les McLaughlin”

In June, Queen Elizabeth began a cross-country tour of Canada with the Yukon on the list of stops. While in Whitehorse, a Royal tummy ache turned out to be the biggest news of the tour. The forty-five day visit began in Newfoundland on June 18th. A month later, on Saturday, July 18, the Queen and Prince Phillip arrived at the Whitehorse airport on a flight from Vancouver.

Elizabeth, said the newspapers, looked pale and drawn – perhaps worn out from the rigours of the arduous tour. A few days later, the world would hear the real story. From the airport, the Royal couple were driven downtown in a brand new 1959 Ford Fairlane convertible that was owned by a Cassiar miner named Vincenzo Caparell. It took some quick police work by the Mounties to find the convertible after a last-minute royal request for such a vehicle.

Half an hour after her arrival, the Mounties, who always get their car, had found the Fairlane, the Army polished it up and it was ready at the airbase for the drive that included a ride over streets coated with a new topping of old oil, the material of choice to keep the dust down in the days before pavement.

Then it was off with Mayor Gordon Cameron on a walkabout to the nearby train station where White Pass railway engineer Charlie Rapuzzi unfurled the Royal standard and eased the diesel locomotive out of town for a quick trip to McCrae. The journey included a view of the Yukon River and the newly built hydro dam that had destroyed the historic Whitehorse Rapids.

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But the most important news of the Canadian tour leaked out next morning. A Sunday service was scheduled at the Old Log Church. At the appointed hour, the Queen was a no show. Prince Philip arrived alone in the Royal convertible and read the lesson while Anglican bishop Tom Greenwood and a full house looked on. But why was the Queen not there?

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Her personal physician announced to a galvanized press that she was exhausted from the grueling tour and had an upset stomach. Some news hounds were not buying the story and it was finally revealed that the Queen was suffering from morning sickness. She was pregnant with another Royal. They would name him Edward.

For the Queen, Sunday remained a day of rest while the Duke headed for Dawson in a four-engine de Haviland Heron military aircraft. Philip piloted the plane to Dawson and back, taxing right up to the VIP house at the Whitehorse airport while the recovering Queen watched from a window.

It was the Queen Elizabeth’s only visit to the Yukon, though the Duke had been here five years earlier on a solo trip in 1954.

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Cover of the RCMP Quarterly Magazine – Doors Are Always Opened (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

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A far cry from security of today, members only defense in case of attack is their physical size and their trusty riding crop.

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Below the personal security detail and motor escort riders of the 1959 Royal Tour – where are they now?

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Taken from MilArt – Articles on Canadian MilitariaThe Cars of the 1959 Royal Tour by Clive Law

“During the summer of 1959, the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, undertook the longest Royal tour in Canadian history (Buckingham Palace officials and the Canadian government opted to dub this a “Royal tour”, as opposed to a “Royal visit”, to dispel any notion that the Queen was a visiting foreigner.) The catalyst for the tour was the ceremonial opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, but beyond that, the intent was to visit many outlying districts never before visited by royalty. All ten provinces, four of the Great Lakes, both Territories (as existed at the time) and a visit to the United States were covered in an exhausting fifteen thousand mile, forty-five day tour.

In order to accomplish this task the Government of Canadian, with the logistical support of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps and the Royal Canadian Air Force, made plans for both road and air travel for the Royal guests. In the expectation of large crowds who would line the Queen’s route in every town and city it was decided that an appropriate limousine would be needed. The Government contacted each of the ‘big three’ car manufacturers and each offered to provide a limousine suitable for Royalty.

“For the Royal Tour of Canada in 1959, the Big Three auto manufacturers, General Motors. Ford and Chrysler, competed once more for the honour of transporting royalty, Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip. On June 13, 1959 a Lincoln, a Chrysler, and a Cadillac — all to be used on the tour — were displayed before the Peace Tower at the Parliament Buildings. At first the government had considered using fourteen limousines and fourteen convertibles, stationing two in each of the cities to be visited. Then the decision was made to use only three and to fly them ahead of the royal couple. The Chrysler and Cadillac had removable glass tops over the rear passenger compartment and only the Lincoln was a convertible. “Her Majesty and Prince Philip will have every conceivable luxury… the flooring material looks like dyed mink. The cars cost about $ 150,000 and look every dollar of it. The spare tires are covered in special cloth, which somebody recalled as mohair…. There is no armour plate or bulletproof glass, confided an official, “The royal couple have nothing to fear but too much affection from Canadians.” “Very handsome,” said Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who left a cabinet meeting to be photographed with the three cars. After the tour, the cars were auctioned off to the highest bidder.

These three cars were: A Continental Mark IV, a Cadillac Custom 1959 Fleetwood Limousine and a Chrysler-Ghia Crown Imperial (this was a 1957 model upgraded for 1959). The Cadillac and the Continental were customized with a Landau-style roof permitting the Queen and Prince Philip to not only be seen by her loyal subjects but also to allow them to stand.

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The Lincoln Continental Mark IV

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The Lincoln Continental Mark IV

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Photograph of the Chrysler-Ghia Crown Imperial.

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Cadillac Custom 1959 Fleetwood Limousine

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Photograph of the Chrysler-Ghia Crown Imperial.

During the tour each of the three cars was air-lifted by an RCA C-119 Flying Boxcar requiring that each car be used on a rotation basis during the 6-week tour.”

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If you have any old Force related photographs that you would like to be included in a forthcoming webpage, please email Ric Hall at rshall69@shaw.ca.  He will scan the photos and return the originals to you.

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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