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A Royal whirlwind: The Queen's day in Winnipeg

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 3/7/2010 (3491 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.



WINNIPEG - Thousands of people jammed The Forks — seven people deep in some spots along the rope line — as Queen Elizabeth arrived at the national historic site this afternoon.

The Queen's motorcade pulled up in front of the Salisbury House restaurant on the Esplanade Riel bridge in the late-afternoon heat.  

The La Compagnie de la Verendrye fired a musket salute and the crowd burst into applause as the Queen, dressed in a floral skirt, a smart green jacket and a fuschia hat, walked the length of the footbridge, heading to the site of the construction of the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.

Canada is the steward of a precious legacy of human rights, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper just before the Queen unveiled the cornerstone of the museum.

The Queen then did a short walkabout past a group of young artists and Afghan veterans in oppressive heat and under threatening clouds. She made her way to the royal box next to the Scotiabank stage.

As thunder boomed in the distance, the Queen called the new human rights museum a symbol of Canada's reputation as a defender of rights all over the world.

"This building will, in due course, rise up to take its place on the Winnipeg skyline," she said in a short speech. "But it is also a symbol of the importance which Canada attaches to human rights and its own role in promoting them at home and throughout the world."

The Queen the enjoyed a selection of artists on the stage, including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Chantal Kreviazuk and Chic Gamine, before leaving for 17 Wing, where her flight left the city for southern Ontario before 7 p.m.

It was a whirlwind of a visit, lasting just over six hours.

Shortly after noon, the Queen and Prince Philip are officially the first passengers to touch down at the new new Richardson International Airport terminal, currently a sweltering construction site.

 Wearing a lavender coat over a floral-print dress and sporting a smart matching hat, the Queen greeted politicians, airport officials, cadets and a gaggle of excited Goldwings - the volunteer airport greeters.

"Ma'am, sir, we are delighted you have chosen our home as one of the stops on your tour," said Winnipeg Airports Authority President and CEO Barry Rempel.

The Queen signed a letter to young people that was placed in a crystal time-capsule to be opened in 50 years. Then, she headed down the escalator and into her car, part of a long motorcade headed to Government House, where about 300 people hoped to catch a glimpse of the monarch.

The earliest arrivals got here at 10:30 a.m. Betty Murray, a senior citizen, first saw the Queen in 1951. "I saw her at Higgins and Main. She was in a car with a plastic roof. We pressed up right against it. You couldn't do that today."

The crowd broke out into a round of cheers and applause as the Queen ascended the steps of Government House, joined by Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee.

As the Queen and Prince Phillip walked up the steps of Government House she turned and gave a classic wave. Her hands were clad in white gloves, her pearls in place and her outfit crease-free. It was more than 30 degrees outside but the Queen showed no signs of melting.

Many of the commoners waiting for a glimpse of royalty had their own notions of what makes a Queen. Eight-year-old Ashley Miller, visiting her grandparents from Denver, had two regal facts.

"She is very old and her husband’s Prince Phillip," she said.

Approximately 100 people joined the Queen in the ballroom of Government House for a luncheon that featured an all-Manitoba menu including bison carpaccio and steelhead trout.

The Queen was seated with Lee to her right and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger to her left. Ron Evans, Grand Chief for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, opened the dinner with a grace in Cree.

Following the luncheon, a crowd numbering about 1,500 gathered on the grounds of the legislature to watch as the Queen planted a new shrub developed in her honour and rededicated a Leo Mol sculpture of her own likeness as a young queen. 

She spoke to Roy Bailey, a farmer from the Carberry area who hosted her at his farm in 1970. Now 95 years old — but a daily golfer — he said it was wonderful to see her again.

"She is just as beautiful now as she was then," said Bailey's son, Brian, who was a young newlywed during the Queen's earlier visit.

Melissa Martin

Melissa Martin

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Updated on Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 1:19 PM CDT: Adds information from Government House.

4:59 PM: Updates on The Forks

5:49 PM: Adds information from The Forks.

6:12 PM: Updates from The Forks.

7:11 PM: Updated after Queen's departure.

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