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Queen's death will leave void in Canada, says Victoria monarchist

Bruce Hallsor says Canada was a “young, unformed entity” when Elizabeth became Queen, and wouldn’t be the same country without her
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The Queen in Edinburgh in June during her annual trip to Scotland for Holyrood week. Jane Barlow/PA via AP

The death of the Queen will leave a void in many Canadians’ lives, Victoria monarchist Bruce Hallsor said Thursday.

“It’s obviously very sad news, not a shock, but unexpected,” said Hallsor, spokesman for the Monarchist League of Canada and past chair of the Victoria branch.

“And we all hoped when we heard she was not well that she would pull through. I think that’s how most people feel.”

Hallsor saw the Queen many times and shook her hand on her visits to Victoria. In 2012, he had a “real conversation” with her when he was invited to a dinner for her 60th Jubilee in 2012 in Toronto.

”I was impressed, as people most universally were, with Her Majesty, how well she performed her function, the dedication she showed, the unrelenting life of service and the example she set for all of us.”

Hallsor said Canada was a “young, unformed entity” when Elizabeth became Queen, and wouldn’t be the same country without her. “We have undergone such vast changes in 70 years and she has been there for all of it. She was there for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. She was there for our Centennial coming of age party. She was there to sign our Constitution. She’s been there for our Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games and celebrations.

“And I think it would have been hard for us to undergo so many of the changes we’ve undergone without the reassurance of that presence that has always been there and has been there for the lives of most of us.”

Charles, now King, has had a long tutelage by the best monarch and will be an excellent king, said Hallsor.

“We are a very successful country and I think having the monarchy is a big part of our who our nation is. It’s a big part of our history and a big part of our future, and I say: ‘God Save the King.’ ”

A book of condolences is available to sign at the main entrance to Government House on Rockland Avenue and at the B.C. legislature.

The Queen lived a life of “service and self-sacrifice,” B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin said Thursday outside Government House.

“Her presence touched many generations of Canadian families who watched her grow from the teenage princess who trained as a mechanic during World War Two to the young queen who charmed crowds on many tours throughout the country, and to her family roles as mother, grandmother and great-grandmother many times over.”

Wearing a black suit and facing a Canadian flag at half-mast, Austin said the Queen’s “unwavering dedication” to the people of the Commonwealth earned her the respect and admiration of Canadians.

“She in turn loved Canada dearly — a sentiment she expressed to me personally during my audience with her upon being appointed Lieutenant Governor.”

Austin echoed those who have noted that the Queen travelled to Canada more often than to other countries. She made 22 visits to Canada and seven to B.C.

“The passing of our Queen represents the end of an era defined by its longevity, by her example of service and self-sacrifice and by the kindness and consideration she always showed to everyone,” she said.

The Queen was a patron to many Canadian organizations, including the Royal B.C. Museum. She also supported the conservation of the Great Bear Rainforest through the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy.

Government House in Victoria hosted the Queen on several visits. In 1994, alongside Lt. Gov. David Lam, she officially dedicated the newly revived gardens of the estate, which are looked after by the Friends of Government House Gardens Society.

Like Austin, Premier John Horgan extended condolences to the Royal Family, saying in a statement that the Queen will be remembered for her “full-hearted service to her people, and her steadfast commitment to her duties as the sovereign and head of the Commonwealth.”

Horgan said the Queen “held a special place in her heart for British Columbia,” noting the province hosted the monarch seven times. “With each visit, the Queen brought British Columbians together in common purpose,” he said.

“At every opportunity, Queen Elizabeth II made time for people, especially children. For the tens of thousands of people who came out to see the Queen as she travelled to communities throughout B.C., these moments will be cherished for a lifetime.

“God save the King.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

— With files from Carla Wilso