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Exploring Queen Elizabeth II’s deep connection to Toronto over her 70-year reign

Click to play video: 'Queen’s long-standing connection to Toronto during 70-year reign'
Queen’s long-standing connection to Toronto during 70-year reign
WATCH: Of her 22 trips to Canada, Queen Elizabeth II visited Toronto on seven occasions. – Sep 9, 2022

Even as a child, Norma Chalvardjian felt an innate sense of connection to her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It’s what compelled her to wait in line Friday alongside other Torontonians at City Hall to sign a book of condolences, which will eventually be shared with the Royal Family.

“I’ve always admired the queen,” said Chalvardjian, who is originally from Scotland. “She was seven years older than I was, so I’ve known her since I was a little kid.”

Read more: ‘Selfless service’: Ontario mourns after death of Queen Elizabeth II

Richard Berthelsen is a senior project manager with the City of Toronto.

He says Queen Elizabeth II’s deep connection with the city was one that grew over time.

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Of the 22 trips she made to Canada, seven were to Toronto.

“Some of the trips, the queen was able to stay onboard her yacht, the Britannia, down in the Toronto Portlands,” he told Global News.

“Other times, she came in a rail car and exited the rail car for a few days and went into the Royal York Hotel, which was right beside the rail station.”

Click to play video: 'Premier Doug Ford signs book of condolence at Queen’s Park'
Premier Doug Ford signs book of condolence at Queen’s Park

Her first visit to the city was in 1951 when she was still known as Princess Elizabeth.

Following her coronation in 1952, she returned to Toronto in 1959 in an official capacity as head of state, during a national tour.

“It probably surprises a lot of people who go to Riverdale Park in the evenings that that park was absolutely filled with people and all they did was the queen would drive around the track and people would be able to see her,” he added. “The hills were even more filled with people than they are these days.”

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Read more: Queen Elizabeth II’s legacy: A look back at key moments during her historic reign

She later visited again in 1973 and 1984. The latter visit saw her travel across the city, drawing thousands at an appearance in Corso Italia in the west end.

“Certainly in my own family, when I’ve lost family members, you sort of thought they would live forever and as much as you might think you prepare yourself for when the day comes, you can’t necessarily do that,” said Mayor John Tory of the queen’s death.

Tory told reporters that despite her living so far from the city, the queen was ever-present in many ways.

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