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Legislature visit marks final stop of Royal Tour

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Prince Charles and Premier Greg Selinger opened Sara Riel's Place Bernadette Poirier in St. Boniface today, marking supportive housing for people with mental-health issues.

"I can't tell you how much I appreciate the enormous amount of effort that so many people have put into this project," the Prince said at a reception of about 120 people.

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Charles & Camilla at Stevenson Hangar

 

Camilla takes in pas de deux at RWB

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"It's a wonderful example of so many people working together for such an imaginative and valuable project. I do hope it makes it makes an enormous difference to people's lives in this part of Winnipeg."

The 28-unit Place Bernadette on Kenny Street is operated by Sara Riel, a non-profit organization established by the Grey Nuns. It cost $8.9 million to build.

Sister Jean Ell said it was a pleasure to have the Prince mark the opening.

"We need double, triple this," she said of more affordable housing for less fortunate Manitobans. "It's disrespectful to clients to put them in a garbage dump type of place."

On her own at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet this afternoon, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, chatted with dancers and front desk staff, asking them how long they'd been with the RWB. She also took in a pas de deux performed by two young dancers, checked out some tutus and accepted a watercolour sketch by artist Shannon Lovelace.

More than a dozen developmentally challenged people also demonstrated a series of dance dance moves for the Duchess, using wheelchairs and walkers.

"How long have you been coming?" Camilla asked one gentleman in a motorized wheelchair. "Do you find it helps you?"

Prior to her visit to the RWB, Prince Charles and Camilla toured a small gallery of artwork, books and other materials connected to Winnie The Bear today during their whirlwind tour of Winnipeg.

The couple arrived at the Pavilion at Assiniboine Park to loud cheers from about 150 well-wishers.

Inside, the royal couple learned about the bear's connection to Winnipeg. The bear is named after Winnipeg, who inspired the Winnie The Pooh stories.

They also looked at an oil painting of the bear staring into a honey pot from the 1930 by Ernest Shepard and a photo of the original bear.

They looked at drawings by illustrator Ernest Shepard

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall receives flowers from Meagan Gillis, 12, and her sister Jillian, 8, as the royal couple leaves the Assiniboine Park Pavilion Gallery Wednesday in Winnipeg.

Enlarge Image

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall receives flowers from Meagan Gillis, 12, and her sister Jillian, 8, as the royal couple leaves the Assiniboine Park Pavilion Gallery Wednesday in Winnipeg. (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

"They're so familiar," Charles said to Camilla.

They also met with five children and some adults who were reading stories. Camilla knelt down and talked to one child.

Outside, sisters Meagan and Jillian Gillis presented the Duchess of Cornwall with a bouquet of sweet peas, carnations and roses.

"She said thank you for the flowers," Jillian, 8, said.

"We'll remember this the rest of our lives," Meagan, 12, said.

Prince Charles also chatted briefly with veteran Peter Corcoran, who served in the Parachute Regiment, of which he said Prince Charles is the supreme commander.

"He said, 'I see you're keeping yourself pretty fit,'" Corcoran, 73, said.

The smell of wood chips and a docile and cooperative polar bear greeted Prince Charles as he arrived at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

His Royal Highness got up close to Hudson the polar bear, feeding him capelin, a type of fish, through a fence with the use of tongs.

The feeding was part of a positive reinforcement training exercise in which zookeepers coax the bears to put their paws on the fence so they can examine them.

The exercise went without a hitch as Hudson did as expected and received his reward. Just to make sure the bear co-operated zoo staff had withheld part of Hudson's meal earlier. He was to receive the rest of his feeding after the prince departed.

Charles asked questions about Hudson, including whether he is fully grown. The bear seemed to take the royal attention in stride, unfazed by either His Royal Highness or the gaggle of reporters and photographers following him.

While touring the soon-to-be opened Journey to Churchill Exhibit, Prince Charles also met the Grade 4 class from Angus McKay School and received a painting of an owl from aboriginal painter and sculptor Allan Chapman, whose artwork is on display at the Seal Gallery at the zoo.

Several dozen people lined the entrance to the bear enclosure waiting for a glimpse of the prince. They were rewarded with a close-up view. Charles made a joke about ruining their phones and cameras as he strolled by.

"It was very cool," said Breanna Millhouse, a Grade 12 student from Nelson McIntyre Collegiate who attended with members of her school.

From left: MP Shelly Glover, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at Red River College.

Enlarge Image

From left: MP Shelly Glover, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at Red River College. (WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

Earlier, Prince Charles told a group of school children and dignitaries this morning Manitoba has changed a lot since his last visit in 1996.

"But what has not most assuredly changes is the vitality of the province," he said, in his first speech of the day.

Dozens of elementary school kids were on hand to greet the couple at Red River College's Stevenson Hangar, waving flags and hooting for the television cameras.

Charles and Camilla walked through the hanger, checking out the small aircraft, as Manitoba's senior federal minister Shelly glover and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson trailed behind, their hands clasped demurely.

The Stevenson Hangar is where Red River students train to work in the aerospace industry. Normally the hangar is even more jammed with half-deconstructed helicopters and airplanes, but staff, who joked they were on hand in case the power went out, said the place had been tidied up for the royal visit.

Jobs and the Economy Minister Theresa Oswald had a brief chat with the prince as he made his way through the handshake line.

"Jobs and the economy? You must also care a lot about all these children and what they're going to do in the future," Charles said to Oswald.

"They are splendid, every one, and so excited to see you."

Oswald said she met the Queen years ago and wasn't expecting to be starstruck, but said the Queen was like a rock star. This time, Oswald said she knew what to expect.

"My heart was pounding," she said.

Charles spoke briefly about the need to fill the skills gap and said the issue is one he's been working on, but that it is like "pushing water up a hill." Technical training programs such as Red River College's fit the bill.

He also praised the "wonderful, patient, energetic teachers" on hand to corral the kids.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who announced two donations to charities close to the Prince's heart, welcomed the royals to Winnipeg.

"The day we all threw paper airplanes with their royal highnesses is one we won't soon forget," said Harper.

The royals also got a gift for Prince George, a baby-sized flight jacket. That sparked a collective "awww" from the crowd of kids.

Wayne Glowacki / Winnipeg Free Press

From left, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen, Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall at the Stevenson Hangar ceremonies.

 

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 11:37 AM CDT: Updates with comments from Prince Charles, Stephen Harper

11:39 AM: Adds video, adds slideshow

11:45 AM: Adds that royal couple on way to Assiniboine Park

12:47 PM: Updates with royal couple's visit to Assiniboine Park, adds photo

1:27 PM: Updates with Camilla's visit to RWB

1:43 PM: Updates slideshow, more on visit to zoo.

2:11 PM: Updates with Prince Charles opening Sara Riel's Place Bernadette Poirier in St. Boniface.

3:07 PM: Slideshow updated.

10:49 PM: Slideshow updated, adds new video

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