Ontario got the chance to strut its stuff for royalty last night, as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh attended the Festival of Ontario at the CNE.
The event, which was in honour of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, was designed to be a showcase of the best Ontario has to offer. More than 90 exhibitors, ranging from the Ontario Aerospace Council to the National Ballet to Ducks Unlimited, took part in the show.
There were also performances by many groups, including Alpine Dancers, the Jamaican Canadian Association, St. Michael’s Boys Choir, and Cottage Country Cloggers.
Security during the event was almost non-existent, except for a few bodyguards surrounding the Queen as she made her way through the National Trade Centre.
The Queen made a pre-determined stop in front of the U of T Blue Sky Solar Racing Team’s display, giving them an up-close and personal encounter with the Queen.
“I was grateful for the opportunity to represent the university and to show the solar car,” said team leader Jessica van Vliet, whose exhibit featured their car, named “Faust,” as well as a slide show about the university and its distinguished alumni.
After an hour of touring the displays, the Queen made her way to the main stage, where all the Ontario cabinet ministers were awaiting her arrival. Ontario Premier Ernie Eves gave the only speech of the night honouring the Queen.
“Your Majesty represents tradition, continuity, stability and integrity in public life and throughout the Commonwealth through difficult times,” said Eves. “Your Majesty has played an integral part in defining Canadian history….You have served us with dedication, dignity and compassion.”
Stan Li, a recent graduate from the Rotman management program, was one of the many U of T students at the event. He said he enjoyed the experience.
“It’s so crowded,” said Li, referring to the more than 6,000 guests in attendance. “But it’s the Queen and it’s really worth the trip…I think she’s a decent person.”
Echoing these sentiments was U of T Progressive Conservative Association president Matthew Curtis. “It was interesting and encouraging to see such a cross-section of Ontario’s society here at this event, and I think it bodes well for the future of the monarchy in Ontario and in Canada.”
The Queen was even an attraction for people who think Canada should abolish the monarchy.
Fourth-year U of T political science student Tolu Fayoda, who described himself as a republican, came to see the Queen because he respects her as a person and the position that she holds.
Celebrating her 50-year reign over the 54 countries and 1.7 billion people in the Commonwealth, the Queen is in Canada from Oct. 4-15.
Prince Philip will visit Massey College tomorrow.
Photograph by Simon Turnbull