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Queen Elizabeth II leaves a legacy of Service and Faith

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The front pages of the Winnipeg Tribune (July 1) and the Star Weekly (July 13) commemorating the 1953 coronation of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. The entire Commonwealth rejoiced shouting “Long Live The Queen”. (Photo: Boroditsky Bros. archive)

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Last fall we had the sad and laborious task of disassembling the possessions of my grandparent’s North End home. It was daunting to un-pile our family history, the long-forgotten photographs from the cottage in Winnipeg Beach, the megillah scrolls, the massive siddurim and antique Pesach dishes, pots and tableware (not cutlery). 

But amongst the accumulations of Yiddishkeit and Zionism and family and Jewish tradition, was also glimpses hidden in this corner and that corner, of the Canadian culture of the day. And hidden under the basement stairs, along with the lucky discovery of brilliant 1967-69 Life magazines and gleaming marbles – all untouched for over 50 years – was something quite unexpected and for me, enchanting. 

A box with a small number of newspapers. Old newspapers.

Particularly as a newspaper reader under the direction of my Zaida and father since the first heart transplant, in the realm of digging through your grandparent’s life possessions, this is ‘my thing’.

With the exception of a few sections dedicated to the State of Israel (I think they were promotional in some way), every other newspaper they hid away – two editions published by the big city papers in Toronto and 6 others selected from Winnipeg print – were about a certain topic. Not the end of WW2, not the Korean War, not the race to the moon.

Every newspaper they saved was about Queen Elizabeth II. 

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My Zaida was in the first generation of our family born in Canada. Baba immigrated from the family hometown in Russia around age 22 and grew up with no relationship with the Commonwealth.

In their entire lifetime together in Canada, about 50 years in total before making Aliyah, the only newspapers reflecting the prevailing or ‘popular culture’ they saved were about the reign of Elizabeth II. And in particular, they saved the print coverage of the visits by the Royal Family to our city and province.

When I asked my older brother about it this past weekend, he was stunned and knew nothing about why they saved that archive about the Queen. But they did, and it was important to them.

It is in the spirit of my grandparent’s loyalty to the Crown and their deep respect for Her Majesty that I have compiled this round-up, illustrated largely by the possessions I inherited that started with her coronation.  

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Reaction From England

Newly-minted British Prime Minister Liz Truss stated the Queen was “The rock upon which modern Britain was built.”

“The Jewish community is really in mourning along with the rest of the United Kingdom,” Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust told JNS. “We really feel that we have lost, I think someone described her as the grandmother of the nation.”

Holocaust survivors were invited to her garden parties and among the honours Queen Elizabeth bestowed upon them were the British Empire Medal (BEM), Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said:

“The World Jewish Congress and its more than 100 Jewish communities across the globe join the nation and people of the United Kingdom, and British Jewry in mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, during whose 70-year reign Jewish communities in Great Britain, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and across the Commonwealth have flourished and grown in peace and security. Queen Elizabeth’s was a life of service and faith, in which love of country, Commonwealth, God and family was the supreme value.

“She and her family were beloved symbols of resistance to Nazi tyranny, refusing to leave London during the worst times of the Blitz and standing in solidarity under siege with their compatriots. The young Princess Elizabeth was an inspiration and source of comfort to Anne Frank in her hiding place in Amsterdam and in 2015, she and her late husband, Prince Philip, visited the former Nazi concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany, where Anne Frank died, to commemorate its liberation by British troops. Queen Elizabeth’s refusal to flinch in the face of evil, but instead to fight it with every formidable fiber of her character, will be an inspiration for generations to come.”

Queen Elizabeth II came to Canada to celebrate our Centennial in 1967. She told a joint session of Parliament, “This country is fortunate and prosperous above most others. But not all of its people are free from want and hardship,” reported Robert Cohen in the Winnipeg Tribune. She continued, “There are still wrongs to be righted and suffering to be relieved. There is still a constant effort of accommodation to be made so that all peoples in this great country may live together in friendship and harmony.” (Photo: Boroditsky Bros. archive)

Canada and Manitoba mourn her passing

The Queen visited Canada 20 times, the first as Princess in 1951.

“Queen Elizabeth’s steadiness and grace through many tumultuous times, most recently the Coronavirus pandemic, was a source of reassurance to Canadians over the decades,” stated B’nai Brith Canada. “Canadian Jews admire and respect our constitutional monarchy that has contributed to the development of democracy in Canada and the associated rights and freedom that it brings.”

“Her life was a tribute to many aspects of humanity, decency, and compassion,” wrote the Canadian Antisemitism Education Foundation. “She was rarely controversial, she was solidly a defender of the Commonwealth, and she rose on many occasions to address societal changes and acknowledge goodness in the world.” 

On her final visit here to Winnipeg in 2010 with Prince Phillip, they were the first official passengers to arrive at James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. Former Manitoba Premier Kelvin Goertzen, who now serves as Attorney General, paid tribute to her on Twitter:

There are many words that will be used to describe Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 

The words I think of are duty and resilience.

She had an incredible sense of duty to the Commonwealth and its citizens. She understood her role as a monarch but also as a diplomat and she exercised those to bring calm in turbulent times.

And she was resilient. During hard times, personally, nationally, internationally, she was resilient. She carried on.

Canada and Canadians have a special connection to Queen Elizabeth II. May it always be treasured, and may she Rest In Peace.

Deep in the basement of a house full of a lifetime of possessions spanning one hundred years, a Jewish family in Winnipeg had kept a pristine commemorative coronation tin depicting Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. (Photo: Boroditsky Bros. archive)

The Queen of the Prairies

On her visits to Manitoba, the Queen took part in all aspects of our multicultural province and always showed her ability to make people feel comfortable in her presence. The most anticipated of her visits – at least it was when I was 10 years old – was with the Royal Family to join in celebration of Manitoba’s 100th birthday.

Iconic columnist ‘Uncle’ Vince Leah took note of their attendance at a pre-season CFL contest between the Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders on July 13, 1970.

“I feel that the monarchy will be around for a spell, whether some people in Quebec and other outlandish like it or not. I am sure the Queen was impressed by the devotion of 20,000 odd football nuts who stood up to sing God Save the Queen without being asked. Winnipeggers are funny people. They do not wear their collective hearts on their sleeves but they feel things very deeply.”

“Speaking excellent French”, the Tribune reported on July 15, Queen Elizabeth addressed about 4,500 people in the town of St. Pierre, and honed in on an essential characteristic of Confederation.

“During one of my recent trips to Canada, I realized the fundamental theme of Canadian unity. It is, after all, its linguistic and cultural diversity which gives to Canada its proper originality and its exceptional dimension.”

At the St. Pierre event, dignitaries included NDP Premier Ed Schreyer and his wife Lily; Education Minister Saul Miller, a stalwart of the Jewish community; and in his role as a Federal Minister for the Pierre Trudeau Liberal government, the aforementioned James Richardson.

That same day, she took part in a ceremony in Lower Fort Garry to ‘pick up the rent’ from The Hudson’s Bay Company. Three thousand people stood in the rain to watch the fulfillment of the original charter of HBC which “stipulated that payment of two elk and two black beaver be made whenever a reigning monarch entered the enormous area of present-day Western Canada over which the HBS ruled.” One change from her 1959 participation in the ritual was that real live beavers, trapped in the Swan River area, replaced the traditional pelts.

”The elks’ heads presumably go into storage with the growing herd of royal elk heads,” wryly noted Dave Stockand, relating that the beavers awaited being transferred to their new home at the London Zoo.

The front page of the Winnipeg Tribune upon the conclusion of the 1970 Royal visit to Manitoba, Canada. (Photo: Boroditsky Bros. archive)

Manitobans flocked to get a glimpse

The Royals traveled from north to south with the Queen, Prince Phillip, Princess Anne and Prince Charles charming everyone, and the stories described all the minority populations that came out and met with them, including the Francophone community, Hutterites, Ukrainians, First Nations.

At the Manitoba legislature, over 100,000 citizens gathered to see them, which would no doubt in modern times be called “Royalmania”.

Legendary news bureau chief Charles Lynch observed of the tour, “the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, was introduced to Canadians for the first time, and we to him, with favourable impression on both sides.” He noted “that unforgettable final day of mass jubilation in Winnipeg.”

Upon the conclusion of the Royal visit, a front page editorial by the Tribune said, “The impression left by this gracious and gentle sovereign is already becoming a cherished memory to tens of thousands of men and women in all walks of life. Manitobans will long remember the warmth and friendliness that the Queen, her husband, and her children engendered wherever she went.”

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the 1970 Manitoba Centennial Derby. (Photo: asdowns.com)

A Queen for all Canadians

The newspaper explained how this connection to the people of the Keystone Province was a quite predetermined goal of the 1970 Centennial celebration. 

“Months ago those given the responsibility of planning the royal tour vowed that this was to be a tour in the modern style. They were determined to thrust aside the rigid formalities of the past when only stuffy dignitaries, the elite and the big-wig politicians were given a chance to brush elbows with the royal family. It is to their credit that they resisted pressures and did in fact make this a visit of the sovereign to all the people.”

And to her credit, she and her family embraced the opportunity the Manitoba organizers had designed for her to meet with the people all across my home province, speak to them, hear from them, and show she cared about their lives and about our country.   

The Tribune concluded, “For the overwhelming majority of Manitobans there is now renewed affirmation in the hope voiced by Her Majesty, “that the Crown will long continue to be a unifying force and a focus for national identity to this province and in all of Canada.”

My Baba and Zaida were among that overwhelming majority of Manitobans. Jews, Christians, and all Manitobans – without regard to societal divisions – embraced the monarch, and as she did our citizens.

May she now rest in peace, having fulfilled her duty for 70 years.  

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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