NVMA_7563 | King and Queen

King and Queen
1939, 20th century
11 x 16 cm
This artefact belongs to : © North Vancouver Museum and Archives
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Keys to History

The year after it opened, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth "honoured" the new bridge by crossing it during a tour of the Dominion. It was the first time that the reigning British monarch had visited Canada. At 364 feet (111 m) in height and 6,000 feet (1,829 m) in length, the Lions Gate Bridge was then the largest span of its type in the British Empire. The royals famously snubbed a group of Capilano-band Natives waiting with gifts by failing to stop for them. A letter from the honorary secretary of the Vancouver Committee for the Reception of Their Majesties later "explained" that the motorcade had significantly slowed down while passing them! Although the land at the bridge's north access point was owned by the Squamish nation, to which the Capilano people belonged, it had simply been "surrendered for sale" through the federal Indian agent, according to the standards of the day, without any kind of direct consultation.

  • What

    This photo shows the British royals, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, being driven along the north approach to the bridge in an open car with a motorcycle escort.

  • Where

    The royal party crossed the Second Narrows Bridge heading north, looped through North Vancouver and came back to Vancouver over the Lions Gate Bridge.

  • When

    This drive took place on May 29, 1939. The royals arrived in Quebec City on May 17, toured nine provinces, visited President Roosevelt in Washington, D.C., and then left from Halifax on June 15.

  • Who

    The reigning monarch had come to the British throne in 1937 after Edward VIII had abdicated in order to marry American divorcée Wallis Simpson.