Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy have long ties to Guelph and Waterloo Region

Queen Elizabeth II, right, and Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, left, walk near a crowd of people after attending mass at the Cathedral Church of St.James in Toronto on Sunday, July 4, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette. NSD

News of the death of Queen Elizabeth II hit hard for those who remember her.

A history professor at the University of Guelph said the queen will be remembered as a person with extraordinary dignity.

Kevin James, the Scottish Studies Foundation chair, says the news of the queen’s death at the age of 96 on Thursday came as quite a shock to many Canadians.

“It was a loss of someone we knew,” James said. “But the fact that she died rather quickly provided some comfort.”

Bradley Barbour, a member of the Waterloo Wellington chapter of the Monarchist League of Canada, said he was sad when he heard that the queen died.

“We saw her a couple of days ago with the new prime minister of Britain,” Barbour said. “Even though she was looking frail, she was smiling and doing her job.”

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The queen made her one and only visit to Guelph on July 2, 1959, but the city’s ties to the Royal Family go back hundreds of years.

“It harkens all the way back to medieval days,” James said. “It was one of the names in the House of Hanover which after 1714 became the monarchs in Britain and therefore monarchs in Canada.”

James said the queen’s stop in the Royal City was brief but made a lasting impression on the many who saw her in person.

“It re-enforced among English Canadians in this part of the country a sense of proud loyalty to the crown.”

The queen’s last visit to the region was in 2010 when she got a tour of the Research in Motion offices in Waterloo.

“Whenever the queen comes around to our region, it makes us feel wonderful as a community,” Barbour said. “Wherever she goes, the cameras are also going. So all of Canada, and the rest of the world, gets to see our community.”

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Queen Elizabeth II was the longest-serving British monarch in history.

“She provided institutional continuity for many decades,” James said. “She helped to give meaning and life to it, and to give value as an institution.”

The death of the queen means her son becomes King Charles III. Barbour said the queen was the only head of state that many people have ever known up until her death.

“Even those who are not royal watchers, there is this feeling of unsureness and maybe a bit of anxiety,” Barbour said. “We never had to go through this before. It will be a very interesting process to watch it unfold over the next little while.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was one of many dignitaries who paid tribute to the queen on Thursday.

He said she had a special place in her heart for Canada and taught people the true meaning of selfless service.

The city of Guelph will be lowering flags to half-mast at all city-owned facilities, including city hall. Schools in the Waterloo Region District School Board will also be flying flags at half-mast.

The public can sign a book of condolences at the office of Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield all next week starting this Monday. People can also express their condolences on the Heritage Canada website.

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— with files from the Canadian Press


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