June 25, 2019

Winnipeg
16° C, Partly cloudy

Full Forecast

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

Opinion

Winnipeg's link to the King's speech

Government House to celebrate '39 visit

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2011 (3057 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Eighty years before Colin Firth played a stammering monarch in The King's Speech, the real King George VI gave a historic speech in Winnipeg.

There wasn't a hint of a speech impediment from the man who had stuttered since childhood.

On May 24, 1939, the King and Queen Elizabeth arrived in Winnipeg as part of a Canadian tour. In the lurid reporting of the times, a Free Press writer claimed the rain ended and the skies dried as the couple drove down Portage Avenue and onto Memorial Boulevard.

"I was sure I saw a rainbow, and the foot of the rainbow rested on the Cenotaph. There are some times when the inner-eye perceives the truest things of all, and this was one of them," wrote Francis Stevens. He also predicted the couple would leave "as they came, with a smile on their faces and charm in their manner."

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Keep reading free:

I agree to the Terms and Conditions, Cookie and Privacy Policies, and CASL agreement.

 

Already have an account?

Log in here »

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/2/2011 (3057 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth meet the public during their royal visit to Winnipeg in 1939.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth meet the public during their royal visit to Winnipeg in 1939.

Eighty years before Colin Firth played a stammering monarch in The King's Speech, the real King George VI gave a historic speech in Winnipeg.

There wasn't a hint of a speech impediment from the man who had stuttered since childhood.

On May 24, 1939, the King and Queen Elizabeth arrived in Winnipeg as part of a Canadian tour. In the lurid reporting of the times, a Free Press writer claimed the rain ended and the skies dried as the couple drove down Portage Avenue and onto Memorial Boulevard.

"I was sure I saw a rainbow, and the foot of the rainbow rested on the Cenotaph. There are some times when the inner-eye perceives the truest things of all, and this was one of them," wrote Francis Stevens. He also predicted the couple would leave "as they came, with a smile on their faces and charm in their manner."

The cross-country royal tour began in Quebec. The couple arrived by train in Winnipeg on the 24th, Empire Day, and were greeted by hundreds of thousands of people.

After all the official meetings and greetings, the King sat at a desk in Government House's upstairs library. Via radio, he addressed the Commonwealth's 300,000,000 people.

"Winnipeg, the city from which I am speaking, was no more than a fort and hamlet upon the open prairie when Queen Victoria began to rule," he began. "Today it is a monument to the faith and energy which have created and upheld the world wide Empire of our time.

"The journey which the Queen and I are making in Canada has been a deeply moving experience and I welcome this opportunity of sharing with my subjects in all parts of the world some of the thought and feeling which it has inspired in me."

By the time he gave his Winnipeg speech, the King had been working for years with speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush in the movie. They crafted speeches to avoid words or phrases that would trip the King up. By then he had conquered his difficulty with the letter 'k', a problem that had plagued him since childhood and something of an occupational hazard.

The desk from which King George addressed the Commonwealth now holds the guest book at Government House. Many visitors are unaware of the historical significance.

Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee, a huge fan of The King's Speech, says it's significant George VI gave his Winnipeg speech such a short time before he addressed the Commonwealth to announce Britain's entry into war.

"This was a very important speech," Lee says. He views the movie as a love story, as well as a historical piece.

"The movie was very well done. The King and the Queen were both determined to overcome the circumstances."

The King closed his Winnipeg address with words for the youth of the Commonwealth:

"I would end with a special word of greeting to those of my listeners who are young. It is true — and I deplore it deeply — that the skies are overcast in more than one quarter at the present time. Do not on that account lose heart.

"Life is a great adventure, and every one of you can be a pioneer, blazing by thought and service a trail to better things. Hold fast to all that is just and of good report in the heritage which your fathers have left to you, but strive also to improve and equalize that heritage for all men and women in the years to come. Remember, too, that the key to all true progress lies in faith, hope and love."

To celebrate Winnipeg's tenuous link to The King's Speech, Lee is hosting a private pre-Academy Awards party at Government House. Guests will be able to see the famous desk and look at pictures from the 1939 visit. While Lee is too polite to say, it's fair to guess he's pulling for Firth to win best actor at the Oscars.

Four months after his Winnipeg speech, the King once again spoke to the Empire, this time to announce Britain had declared war on Germany. He and Logue had once again carefully crafted the speech.

"In this grave hour," the King began, "perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself."

In calm, measured words he concluded:

"The task will be hard. There may be dark days ahead, and war can no longer be confined to the battlefield, but we can only do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God. If one and all we keep resolutely faithful to it, ready for whatever service or sacrifice it may demand, then with God's help, we shall prevail.

"May He bless and keep us all."

As with his Winnipeg speech, he did not stammer.

lindor.reynolds@freepress.mb.ca

Advertisement

Advertise With Us

History

Updated on Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 9:08 AM CST: Colin Firth is nominated for actor in a leading role.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.

Advertisement

Advertise With Us