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Looking back: Welcoming royalty to Maple Ridge

Princess Margaret and party leaving Haney Wharf after Royal Visit, July 1958.  - Maple Ridge Museum
Princess Margaret and party leaving Haney Wharf after Royal Visit, July 1958.
— image credit: Maple Ridge Museum

As we celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, it seems appropriate to look back at the last time a royal visited Maple Ridge.

Princess Margaret, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II and daughter of King George VI, was born Aug. 21, 1930. The princess is less known by younger members of Canadian society than her sister. However, her beauty, fashion sense, marriage, divorce and private life once captured the attention of media and people all over the world.

Residents of Maple Ridge were thrilled when a last minute detour brought the princess to Haney.

Princess Margaret embarked on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada in July 1958. She began the tour in B.C. in celebration of the province’s centenary. Other stops in the province included panning for gold in Prince George, a county rodeo and flap-jack breakfast in Williams Lake, the opening of the new floating bridge in Kelowna, a lieutenant-governor’s ball in Vancouver, and a 4,500-person garden party in Victoria.

The princess did not have a scheduled stop in Maple Ridge, but eager residents attended the festivities in Mission or in Fort Langley.

During her visit to Fort Langley for the opening of the National Historic Fort, Princess Margaret was given a petit-point picture of St. John’s Church. The petit-point, which was made by Mrs. Ella Pelton, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Maple Ridge legion, was presented to the princess by another royal: Maple Ridge’s Blueberry Princess Anna Seigo, who was “charming in a yellow frock and hat.”

It was right after the ceremony in Fort Langley that the princess made the decision that she needed to examine the real church and meet its rector, Padre Harry Moss. The Padre was an old friend of Reverend Philip B. ‘Tubby’ Clayton, the chaplain to the queen. Clayton had recommended a visit with Moss to the princess before she had left for Canada.

The hard work and effort of those in charge of coordinating the princess’s visit to Haney paid off. The Gazette reported that the princess “paused as she entered the ramp, which had been red-carpeted only a few minutes before, and turned to Lieutenant Governor Ross, and seemed to say ‘was this all done for me.’ She was definitely surprised to find the excellent plans for departure, and showed it on her face as she walked down the ramp, onto the float.”

Many who remember the princess’s visit were just kids and teenagers then, sparkling and clean in their Sunday best dresses and trousers. Some of them dressed in Scouts, Cubs, Brownies and Girl Guide uniforms, while the Pony Club drill team proudly lined 5th Avenue and Lougheed Highway. The students who composed the Maple Ridge Junior Band were also present and in full swing of a musical greeting at the Port Haney wharf for the royal departure.

“The bright sun was a fitting day for an historic and memorable day in the life of Maple Ridge,” read The Gazette.

 

Sandra Borger is a researcher with the Maple Ridge Museum.

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