All The Fuss?
by Elaine Weeks and Laryssa Landale
[Victorias] Diamond Jubilee was,
perhaps, the most conspicuous demonstration in the whole 19th century...the
celebration was planned, above all, to demonstrate the extent and
power of the British Empire and the unity and loyalty of all its
constituent members, simultaneous demonstrations were held in all
the British colonies and dependencies...
The Life of Queen Victoria and the story of her reign, Charles Morris,
Queen Victoria with Beatrice. Victorias
rumoured other great love, John Brown stands behind them. Photo
courtesy Robert Irvin
pomp and circumstance were awarded Queen Elizabeths great-great-grandmother
Queen Victoria on her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. This year, England
will honour Queen Elizabeths Golden Jubilee with similar brouhaha.
In this area, celebrations for Victorias Diamond Jubilee in
1897were planned long in advance and were much anticipated. Walkerville
was decorated with Union Jacks and ribbons; there was a lavish parade,
a message to her Canadian subjects from the Queen herself, and a
cornerstone ceremony for a beautiful fountain designed by the eminent
American architect Albert Kahn.
prominently displayed near the foot of Second Street in Olde Walkerville
(now Devonshire Road), the Diamond Jubilee Fountain, or Victoria
Fountain as it is known today, has been through a lot since its
and vandalized after Walkerville was amalgamated with Windsor in
1935, it received a face-lift several years back (although its crown
was never replaced) but is often the target of graffiti artists
and bored neighbourhood kids. It is likely that many people under
forty who happen upon the fountain, now tucked behind Willistead
Manor, are unlikely to know anything of its importance - even
though an inscription runs around the top of the edifice referring
to Queen Victoria and her glorious sixty-year reign,
and the fact that we celebrate her memory with a holiday every May.
Not to mention that two regional capitals Victoria and Regina
were named for her (there are more Victorias in Canada than any
other place name and supposedly more in this country then any other
in the world!)
no secret that Canadians are certifiably ignorant of their history.
When combined with the fact that the significance of the Royal family
to Canadians has diminished considerably over the last 100 years,
then is it really not that surprising that one person, when quizzed
about the fountain, confused it with the Peace Fountain on our waterfront?
A Crash Course on Englands Longest Serving Monarch
was born at Kensington Palace, London, on May 24, 1819, the only
daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III. Edward
died eight months after her birth and she became heir to the throne
because the three uncles who were ahead of her in succession had
no legitimate children who survived.
Following her uncle William IVs death, Queen Victoria was
crowned in 1837 only a few days after turning eighteen. Her reign
marked the beginning of a transformation for the British monarchy.
She was faced with the task of defining a new role for the monarchy
amidst a changing government. The crown retained the right to be
consulted and to advise on all parliamentary matters. She was quite
diligent in attending to this duty and as a result successfully
maintained the influence and strength of the monarchy.
In 1840, she married her cousin Prince Albert and they had nine
children between 1840 and 1857. Most of her children married into
other royal families of Europe.
There were many milestones reached during Queen Victorias
dominion. Amongst them were the first national postal system, The
Penny Post, in 1840, compulsory education for all children
in 1870, and the creation of the title Empress of India which all
future British sovereigns would also hold until India gained independence
in 1947. Victoria also has the distinction of being Britains
longest-reigning monarch thus far, and ruler of the largest empire
in history - an empire upon which the sun never set.
When she ascended the throne in 1837 the Queen had to contend with
a low level of popular respect for the monarchy. Her strong ethics
and personal tastes, won her great respect early on in her sovereignty.
Her high popularity was not unwavering, however. When her husband
died prematurely of typhoid fever in 1861, she was devastated and
went into a period of mourning and almost complete seclusion, (for
which she was widely criticized), lasting more than ten years. For
the rest of her reign, she wore black. She became known as the Widow
at Windsor and was the topic of an unflattering poem by Rudyard
Kipling of the same name.
Before the end of her reign, however, Queen Victoria would inspire
great admiration, and a love for the crown, in the hearts of her
subjects, both in England and the rest of the British Empire. Her
courageous attitude towards seven attempts on her life between 1840
and 1882 greatly strengthened her popularity.
This legacy seems to have been nurtured by successive monarchs,
some more successfully than others. The recent outpouring of affection
surrounding the events of the Queen Mothers death is a strong
indication that the emotional connection between the British Monarch
and its people endures.
Upon Victorias death in 1901, England went into court mourning
for a year, and half-mourning for a year after that.
Mark on Canada
Victorias reign also marked significant changes in the Canadian
political landscape. She gave royal approval to the British North
America Act in 1867, which was brought into effect on July 1 of
that year. The colonies of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick were therefore united, creating the Dominion of Canada.
At her suggestion Ottawa was named the capitol of Canada.
under her rule, the General Service Medal for Canada was issued.
This medal was created to honour members of the Imperial and Canadian
forces who had taken part in quelling raids made by the American
Fenians (an Irish American group who attempted to invade Canada
in 1866 and 1870) and Riels first rebellion. The red-white-red
colour combination, now the foundation of the Canadian flag and
Canadas official colours, first appeared in connection to
this country as the ribbon of this medal.
to her overall popularity and lengthy reign, Queen Victorias
birthday was established as a holiday in Canada West (Ontario) in
1845. Previously, the sovereigns birthday was not celebrated
in the North American colonies. After her death in January 22, 1901,
May 24th was declared Victoria Day and made a national holiday through
an act of parliament. In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed
as the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada.
this Victoria Day (which incidentally, will be on May 20th, 101
years after Victorias death and the first National Victoria
Day) - amidst all the gardening, camping and barbecuing - raise
a glass to Queen Victoria. Honour her for more than giving you another