This exhibit was originally developed in 2012 to mark the 60 year reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was updated to mark her Platinum Jubilee, celebrating 70 years since she acceded to the throne on February 6, 2022. The City of Toronto sends it condolences to The King and all members of the Royal Family on the death of HM The Queen and joins with all those throughout the Commonwealth in mourning the longest reigning Sovereign in our history.

 


On February 6, 1952 while on tour in Kenya, Princess Elizabeth was told by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, her father, George VI had died. At 25 years of age the young Elizabeth had acceded to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon.

 

TTC card commemorating the visit of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip
TTC advertising card commemorating the visit of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip
1951
City of Toronto Archives
Series 244, Item 200

 

The most widely travelled commonwealth monarch, Queen Elizabeth II made 22 official visits to Canada and seven to Toronto. Her first was in 1951 as Princess Elizabeth, where she visited in place of her father who was ill, and her last was in 2010.

 

Images from Princess Elizabeth’s 1951 visit to Toronto and of her travels elsewhere in Canada that year can also be found on our website.

 

Princess Elizabeth at City Hall
Princess Elizabeth arrives at City Hall
October 1951
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1266, Item 144891

 

 

Princess Elizabeth at the Royal York Hotel
Princess Elizabeth at the Royal York Hotel
October 1951
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1266, Item 144899

 

Her Majesty’s first visit to Toronto as Head of State came as part of the 1959 tour of Canada. One of her duties was to open the St. Lawrence Seaway. She and US President Eisenhower boarded the Royal Yacht Britannia at St. Lambert, Quebec for a short voyage through the locks, formally opening the canal.

 

The Queen and Prince Philip at the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway
The Queen and Prince Philip at the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway
June 26, 1959
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1652, File 40, Item 18
Evening Telegram souvenir portrait of the Royal Family
Evening Telegram souvenir portrait of the Royal Family, taken in celebration of the 1959 tour
City of Toronto Archives
Series 8, File 121

 

The Queen and Prince Philip on Bay Street
The Queen and Prince Philip on Bay Street
June 1959
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1057, Item 4986
Her Majesty at the Woodbine racetrack
Her Majesty at the Woodbine racetrack
June 1959
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1057, Item 4995

 

Then, in a strenuous 45 day tour of the country, the Queen and Prince Philip travelled to all 10 provinces and two territories. The Royal couple sailed into Toronto Harbour aboard the Britannia, were welcomed in Etobicoke and were special guests at the 100th running of the Queen’s Plate at the Woodbine racetrack.

Her Majesty next came to Toronto in June 1973 as part of an extended tour of Ontario. She opened Scarborough’s new Civic Centre, and visited Queen’s Park, Ontario Place and High Park, where, as part of Ontario Conservation Week, she released 100 tagged bass into Grenadier Pond.

 

Card commemorating the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Toronto in 1973
Card commemorating the visit of the Queen to Toronto
June 26, 1973
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1054, Item 2

 

Queen Elizabeth II at the Black Creek Pioneer Village display at High Park June 28, 1973
Queen Elizabeth II at the Black Creek Pioneer Village display at High Park
June 28, 1973
City of Toronto Archives
Series 35, File 17

While in High Park she also attended a Black Creek Pioneer Village exhibit, featuring a demonstration of the chores and skills of pre-Confederation Ontario, where she received a hand-made corn broom from village broom-maker, John Adams.

In 1984 the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were again welcomed to Toronto, to help celebrate its 150th anniversary. The city’s original Act of Incorporation in 1834 had received Royal Assent from the her Great-Great Grandmother, Victoria.

 

 

 

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Nathan Phillips Square
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh at Nathan Phillips Square
October 2, 1984
City of Toronto Archives
Series 1281, File 1984-221, Item 0014
The Queen with Mayor Art Eggleton at Nathan Phillips Square
Series 1281, File 1984-221
The Queen with Mayor Art Eggleton at Nathan Phillips Square
October 2, 1984
City of Toronto Archives
Fonds 1652, File 1713

 

During the celebrations the Queen took part in the Metro International Caravan, Toronto’s festival of international culture, and formally dedicated the Peace Garden on Nathan Phillips Square. She also visited the Royal Ontario Museum, and was greeted by thousands of members of the Italian community on St. Clair Avenue West.

Her Majesty returned to the city in 1997, in 2002 for her Golden Jubilee, and in 2010, where she was again a spectator at the Queen’s Plate, a race meeting she first attended in 1959.

 

TTC advertising card commemorating the Queen's coronation
TTC advertising card commemorating the Queen’s coronation
1953
City of Toronto Archives
Series 244, Item 201

 

Toronto has changed a great deal since the Queen acceded to the throne. In 1952 over 70% of the city’s residents were of British extract, protestant and Canadian born.

Since then population has almost tripled, from 1.1 million people to 2.9 million. There now more than 200 ethnic groups represented in Toronto, speaking over 140 languages, and more than half the population was born outside the country’s borders. 16 mayors have held office during Elizabeth’s reign.

The Queen’s Visits to Toronto

October 12 – 13

  • The Princess and the Duke of Edinburgh landed at Malton Airport (now Toronto Pearson Airport). An estimated 500,000 people were along the route of the Royal procession to Old City Hall.
  • Received an official civic welcome at City Hall and signed the guest book.
  • Laid a wreath at the Cenotaph and viewed Toronto’s Golden Book of Remembrance.
  • Attended a dinner at Queen’s Park hosted by Lieutenant Governor Ray Lawson.
  • Toured the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Grandstand and a march past of Cadets where 3,800 school children were in attendance.
  • Visited Riverdale Park East; 30,000 people were present.
  • Attended a hockey game at Maple Leaf Gardens.
  • Visited the Hospital for Sick Children, Sunnybrook Military Hospital, and inspected the 48th Highlanders at their Armoury.
  • The Princess and Duke departed Toronto by Royal Train from Union Station.

June 29 – 30

  • The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh arrived on HMY Britannia.
  • Visited Kew Beach to greet Easter Seals representatives and Variety Village participants.
  • Visited City Hall where they viewed a model of the new City Hall.
  • Drove down Bay Street as part of a ticker tape parade.
  • Visited Redpath Sugar and High Park.
  • Inspected a military parade by the 48th Highlanders at the CNE Grandstand.
  • Attended an official dinner at the Royal York Hotel.
  • Visited the O’Keefe Centre, then under construction.
  • Visited Sunnybrook Hospital, Golden Mile Plaza and Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
  • Visited Etobicoke Municipal Offices (now Etobicoke Civic Centre), which had opened in 1958.
  • Attended the 100th running of the The Queen’s Plate.
  • The Queen and Duke departed from Malton Airport.

June 25 – 30

  • The Queen and Duke arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport.
  • Visited Ontario Place and Queen’s Park.
  • Re-opened Osgoode Hall.
  • Paid an official visit to new City Hall and attended a civic luncheon at the Four Seasons (now the Sheraton Hotel).
  • Visited High Park and Grenadier Pond and saw a Black Creek Pioneer Village display.
  • Visited CNE for a multicultural presentation.
  • Attended a state dinner at the Royal York Hotel.
  • Visited Toby Industries.
  • Officially opened the Scarborough Civic Centre; tens of thousands of people were in attendance.
  • Attended the running of The Queen’s Plate.
  • The Queen and Duke departed from Toronto Pearson Airport.

September 28 – 30, October 2 – 3

  • The Queen and Duke arrived on HMY Britannia.
  • Received an official welcome at Queen’s Park.
  • Dedicated a new Air Force memorial on University Avenue.
  • Attended a military pageant at Exhibition Stadium.
  • Visited the Italian community at Corso Italia and was greeted by more than 20,000 people.
  • Visited the Royal Ontario Museum to open a new addition and unveiled a plaque naming the Queen Elizabeth II Terrace Galleries.
  • Visited Maple Leaf Gardens for a multi-faith Thanksgiving service celebrating Ontario’s bicentennial and Toronto’s 150th anniversary of incorporation.
  • Attended a sesquicentennial ceremony at Riverdale Park.
  • Received an official welcome at City Hall to officially dedicate the Peace Garden on Nathan Philips Square and to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph.
  • Opened Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
  • Attended an Ontario bicentennial dinner.
  • The Queen and Duke departed Toronto Pearson Airport for Sudbury.

June 28 – 30

  • The Queen and Duke attended a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Chrétien at the Royal York Hotel.
  • Attended Divine Service at the Cathedral Church of St. James and unveiled a stained glass window in honour of The Governor General’s Horse Guards.
  • Visited the Mon Sheong Foundation.
  • Opened the Regimental Museum of the 48th Highlanders.
  • Opened new addition to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
  • Attended the running of The Queen’s Plate.
  • Attended an Ontario reception at Ontario Place.

October 14 – 15

  • The Queen and Duke arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport from Manitoba.
  • Attended a Festival of Ontario at the National Trade Centre at Exhibition Place.
  • Visited the CBC.
  • Attended a Gala Performance at Roy Thomson Hall.
  • The Queen and Duke departed Pearson Airport for New Brunswick.

July 3 – 6

  • The Queen and Duke arrived at Toronto Pearson Airport.
  • Attended morning service at the Cathedral Church of St James.
  • Attended Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack.
  • Visited Pinewood movie studios where they participated in a demonstration of 3-D film technology.
  • Attended a State dinner at the Royal York.
  • Visited Queen’s Park where The Queen presented Ontario Medals for Good Citizenship and marked the 150th anniversary of the dedication of Queen’s Park by the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.
  • Attended official departure ceremony at Queen’s Park.
  • Viewed the new Coat of Arms and Badge of the Canadian Border Services Agency at Toronto Pearson Airport.
  • Departed from Toronto on what was her last visit to Canada.
  • Enroute back to the UK, The Queen stopped in New York, where she addressed the General Assembly as Queen of Canada and of 15 other member states.

Next page – Princess Elizabeth in Toronto