It may just be my English blood, or the fact that I saw a great movie recently, but I have become increasingly interested in the visits of British royalty to Vancouver throughout the last century.
It was in the summer of 1939 that His Royal Highness King George VI toured across Canada with his consort Queen Elizabeth, “to bolster trans-Atlantic support in the event of war, and to affirm Canada’s status as a self-governing kingdom sharing with Britain the same person as monarch.” Vancouver was included in the trip by rail and the regal pair stopped at the CPR station in Gastown, City Hall, New Westminster, and Surrey.
While parks, theatres, and schools bear the name Elizabeth or Elizabeth II today, King George VI has but King George Boulevard (formerly King George Highway & Peach Arch Highway) and subsequently King George SkyTrain station in Surrey named in his honor.
King George VI passed away in 1952 and was succeeded by his daughter, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His wife Elizabeth – or as I she was referenced when I was growing up, The Queen Mother – took kindly to Canada and visited more often than others on official and private trips. She was even quoted as telling two war veterans in Quebec, “I am a Canadian!”
His Majesty’s name may not be emblazoned on the title line of plaques or building names in Vancouver however his visit in 1939 was monumental. George IV and Elizabeth II officially opened the Lions Gate Bridge on May 26, 1939 and in 1958 a statue was carved of the king, which now stand by the Woodward Biomedical Library at UBC.
If you have some extra time one day, and if you search very carefully, you may even find the King George VI oak tree that was planted near Brockton Point in Stanley Park on May 12, 1937 on the day of his coronation.