by Mark Buchanan
We are assured that the Majesties took particular pains to acknowledge the homage of their Indian subjects, and that in passing them the rate of speed was considerably lowered.
IN ALLAN TWIGG’S BOOK ABORIGINALITY, he tells of a meeting between three sovereigns – a king and two queens – that never happened. It was missed by inches. The year was 1939. The place, Vancouver. The occasion, England’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Canada. A year earlier, the Lion’s Gate Bridge, joining Stanley Park to West Vancouver, had opened. The King and Queen and their entourage were to drive over the bridge to “honour it.” The lands needed to build the bridge had been transferred in 1936 from Indian Reserve lands to the First Narrows Bridge Company “without consultation and little compensation.” But the Squamish people, at least, bore no ill-will. Instead, they officially requested a meeting between their Queen, Mary Agnes, and the English royals. The Squamish wished to exchange gifts and greetings. Queen Mary dressed for the occasion in full ceremonial regalia. Alongside her was her son, Chief Joe Mathais, who had actually sailed to England in 1911 to attend the coronation of King George. Here’s what happened: “The royals didn’t stop. Nobody from the Squamish Band was invited to take part in the honouring ceremony. ‘This was the only time we could present my grandmother to the Queen,’ recalled Chief Simon Baker, ‘but the car drove past us…. It was terrible for my grandmother.’” Continue reading