Wonderful history to be found online via fun websites, newspapers, historical photographs and homespun memories. Homespun by my Dai for this memory to honor the Queen. In 1959, Dai was in the Stoney Creek Cubs and his group were part of the honor guard when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Stoney Creek Battlefield Monument. I nudged him for a memory.
History Pin has the wonderful photo of Queen Elizabeth II’s motorcade passing the honor guards for her visit to Stoney Creek Battlefield Monument in 1959. My Dai, who was a cub scout and attended as an honor guard for the visit, agreed to write a few words for me about that occasion and our shared loved of family history and local history. I wrote requesting photographs and information from the library the week before the Queen passed. History Pin had uploads from The Hamiltion Library about the 1959 visit. https://www.hpl.ca/
As the world remembers Queen Elizabeth, Cherie Lynn has magically (boolean search on GOOGLE) located this photo from the one and only time that I saw her in person – as an 10-year-old Cub Scout participating in an honor guard for her 1959 visit to the Stoney Creek Monument. (At that time we were called Wolf Cubs, modeled on the Jungle Book stories by Rudyard Kipling). My Cub “pack,” as we were called, would have been lined up along the left-hand side of the driveway a little further up from the people in this photo.
I don’t know why all the American flags; this might have been a Boy Scout troop from Buffalo, just 40 miles east of Stoney Creek. I don’t remember much about the visit except that we stood there for a long time in the heat and my feet got sore. We did get a glimpse of her through the car window as the procession of vehicles wended up the driveway toward the monument. We waited for what seemed like a long time and then the cars came back down and we craned for another peek.
I have no recollection of what she wore. I do seem to recall a wave from a hand in a white glove, but I may be projecting from having seen that wave on TV so many times over the years. … It does bear telling what she was doing in Stoney Creek, at that time a village of 6,000 that served as a bedroom community for many workers in Hamilton, Ontario — Canada’s main steel-making city — where my father was a labor lawyer. (My best friend’s father was a shift foreman at Dominion Foundries, or Dofasco). Elizabeth’s grandmother, Queen Mary, had visited the village in 1913 for the dedication of the monument, an impressive stone edifice resembling a turret on a medieval castle, which had been built to commemorate the site’s pivotal role in the War of 1812.
American troops had crossed into Canada somewhere north of Buffalo and proceeded west along the Niagara Peninsula, pitching camp at the site before attempting to cross a marshy area for an assault on Hamilton and ultimately Toronto (then known as Muddy York), another 45 miles east along the Lake Ontario shoreline. But—at least as I learned it – a scout for the British named Billy Green made his way through the marsh to alert the British, who came back in the night and attacked the Americans while they slept in their tents. The surviving Americans fled back toward Buffalo, or so I was taught, marking a turning point in the war and reversing the Americans’ deepest penetration into what was then Upper Canada.
… One more story while I’m at it; a group of Irish-Americans who called themselves the Fenians tried again immediately after the U.S. Civil War, crossing the Niagara River in an ill-fated attempt to drive the British out of Canada in revenge for their deprivations in Ireland. In the course of her family history research, Cherie Lynn has learned that my great grandfather Thomas Wilson, then a teenager, was part of a brigade of volunteers who rushed from Toronto to help turn them back. Thomas’ older brother, William Knox Wilson, had for some reason joined the U.S. Navy at the start of the Civil War despite being a Canadian and was on the USS Genesee during the siege of Vicksburg; he settled in New Orleans after the war. The oldest of the three brothers, John Wilson Jr., was in New Orleans on business when the war began and was conscripted into the Louisiana 14th Regiment. He fought with the Confederates until his capture in 1863 and was imprisoned for a time at Point Lookout, Maryland, not 30 miles from where we live now. All three were sons of a legendary Toronto tavern keeper known as John “Bulls Eye” Wilson, but that is a story for another day.
Dai, September, 2022
The love of the Queens and Kings of England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland and Great Britain with Canada was so much a part of Dai’s ancestry. Great, great grandfather John Wilson was a devoted monarchist and Orangeman. John Ross Robertson, newspaper man and historian wrote about him in his accounts of Torontonians. He is in the 1893 John Ross Robertson’s Landmarks Of Toronto, Vol 1, page 444.
The Wilson wives and ancestors and some of Dai’s paternal grandmother’s Maritimes ancestors include United Empire Loyalists who fled the United States during the War of American Independence. Dai’s Jacob Russell, a loyalist, went to New Brunswick, leaving his American home to his patriot son. Jacob died in 1827 in Kingsclear, York County, New Brunswick.
The monarchy has a long history of being much beloved among Canadians and many around the world, not just those in the British Isles. The 1959 visit by Queen Elizabeth left an enduring impression on the little boy from Stoney Creek. It was one of the first stories I heard from him about his life growing up in Wentworth County, Ontario.
July 2, 1959
The Hamilton Spectator carried the story with photos.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip Visit Hamilton
July 2, 1959
On Thursday, July 2, 1959, dressed in a red check dress and a white hat, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived by train at the Canadian National Railway Station on Stuart Street at 10:01 am. Accompanying the Royal Couple was the Hon. Ellen Fairclough, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
After signing the guest book and greeting the invited guests the couple headed outside to their chauffeur driven car to start the 17 mile route around the city. The car travelled up James Street to the Jolley Cut and ascended the escarpment.
The procession headed along Concession Street to Upper Wentworth where they turned left and travelled along Mountain Park Drive behind the Henderson Hospital.
They were the first members of the Royal family to see Hamilton from the Mountain.
When they reached Flock Road they descended the escarpment and travelled along King Street towards Stoney Creek, finally arriving at Battlefield House.
Queen Elizabeth was the first monarch to visit the site of the Battle of Stoney Creek. Her grandmother, Queen Mary, had unveiled the Battlefield Monument there by telegraph from Buckingham Palace on June 6, 1913.
The Queen and the Prince greeted the onlookers and then the Queen went inside for tea, “milk no sugar” and a slice of brown bread with butter. Prince Philip left the tour at this point to go on to another event.
After tea Queen Elizabeth again entered the car and the procession headed down Highway #20 to Queenston Road and headed west along Queenston and King Street until they reached Melrose Avenue where they turned and entered Civic Stadium. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who had been presented with their new colours by the Queen in Ottawa earlier in the week, paraded in for a trooping of the colours.
The Queen exited the car and stepped on the dais erected on the grounds and the regimental band played the National Anthem. The Queen inspected the troops and then returned to the dais and the troops marched past. The Queen then re-entered the official car and headed back along King Street to James Street and back to the Canadian National Railway Station.
She boarded the train and headed to Stratford, where she and Prince Philip were to see a gala performance that evening.
The Queen was in Hamilton for about 2½ hours and was seen by a crowd estimated at 200,000.
Later in the month the royal yacht Britannia sailed into Hamilton Harbour, dropping anchor at HMCS Star on July 13 to stay until July 16 when they departed. They were scheduled to pick up the royal party in New Brunswick.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip greet Mayor Lloyd d. Jackson, Mrs. Jackson, the Hon. Ellen Fairclough, Minister of Citizenship & Immigration and her husband Gordon Fairclough.
Hamilton Spectator Collection,
HPL, Local History and Archives
Another wonderful photo of the Queen at Stoney Creek
Searching for color photographs of the wonderful dress of red and white which must have been silk – that she was wearing beautiful.
If anyone suggests other memories to add or remove, let me know.
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