Tag Archives: Queen Elizabeth

Victoria Day, the 24th of May


24 May

Queen Victoria: Born May 24, 1819

Victoria Day as we know it today has been known under a number of different names. Our parents and grandparents perhaps best remember it as Empire Day.

With the death of Queen Victoria, who died on 22 January 1901, the nations of the British Commonwealth  including Newfoundland began to search for a way to best celebrate her contributions.

The first ‘Empire Day’ took place on 24th May 1902, Queen Victoria’s birthday. Newfoundland was among the first of the commonwealth nations to officially declare Empire Day an official holiday in 1903.

The holiday has given rise to the

  “The 24th May is the Queen’s Birthday. If we don’t get a holiday we will all run away.”

Empire Day remained on the calendar for more than 50 years. In 1958 Empire Day was renamed as British Commonwealth Day, and still later in 1966 it became known as Commonwealth Day. The date of Commonwealth Day was also changed to 10th June, the official birthday of the present Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1957, Victoria Day was permanently appointed as the Queen’s birthday in Canada. In the United Kingdom, the Queen’s birthday is celebrated in June.

Queen Victoria and Newfoundland Connections

Queen Victoria allowed for the land grant for the Basilica, St. John’s

Queen Victoria and the  Newfoundland Shawl

Bishop  Michael Fleming  – the Roman Catholic bishop  of Newfoundland conceived of the of the idea  of building the  Basilica Cathedral in the 1830’s.  In April, 1838, by gracious decree of the new Queen, Victoria, a definitive grant of some nine acres was made for the purpose of erecting the new cathedral and related buildings.   Fleming  obtained permission from Queen Victoria to build on “The Barrens”.

Tradition has it that  Bishop Fleming  met with Queen Victoria in Hyde Park in London where the Queen rode by in her carriage.  She then invited him sto Buckingham Palace for tea.

After a discussion, Queen  Victoria offered her support and approval for the  granting of the land for the Roman Catholic  Cathedral.  As he was leaving  the Palace – Queen Victoria noted that it was chilly outside and offered him a shawl  –  which he later gave to his friend  Mary Shaw Dempsey of Alexandria Street, St. John’s.   There is a photograph of the shawl in a 1955 publication.

Victoria Behind Carbonear takes its name from Queen Victoria 

Newfoundland:   Victoria goes by many nicknames, including “The Village” and “The Savage Hollar.”  The community of Victoria is believed to have originally begun as a “winterhouse” for people from Freshwater and Carbonear.  In the nineteenth century the settlement was named Victoria Village, in honor of Queen Victoria.

Pitcher Plant

Queen Victoria and the Pitcher Plant

The Pitcher Plant was originally selected by Queen Victoria to be printed on the newly-minted Newfoundland Penny. The Pitcher Plant, was later designated by the Newfoundland Cabinet in 1954 to be the official flower of the new province. This unique plant can be found throughout the marshes and bogs of Newfoundland. The wine and green flowers attract the insects which, occasionally, fall into the tubular leaves below. The cup-shaped leaves collect water and rain, drowning the insects which nourish the plant.  The pitcher plant — so named because its leaves resemble a pitcher for pouring water— ian insect-eating plant that grows in various terrains across Newfoundland and Labrador.

Queen Victoria and Cabot Tower

In 1897, Cabot Tower was commissioned to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary).

An excellent example of late-gothic revival architecture the tower was designed by St. John’s architect William Howe Greene.

Begun in 1898, Cabot Tower was completed in 1900 and has been a part of a number of historic events.

Although now one of the most recognizable symbols of St. John’s and Newfoundland and Labrador, its construction was not well-supported in the town. Most of St. John’s burned to the ground in 1892 and the banks in Newfoundland crashed in 1894. When Judge Daniel .W. Prowse, a prominent local man, suggested building Cabot Tower, one person said in a local paper that:

it’s like putting a silk hat on the head of a man who can’t afford to buy a pair of boots.”

Victoria Park, St. John’s  Declared a Scared Place  

Victoria Park, St. John’s

Victoria Park takes its name from Queen Victoria 

In the Police Court  on July 28,1897, his Honor Judge Daniel Prowse, in delivering judgment in  an assault case committed on Thomas Redmond, a son of Patrick Redmond, caretaker of Victoria Park,  Judge Prowse remarked that “the park is a sacred place”, as is the person of Mr. Redmond, and in future any person brought before him for assaulting that gentleman, will be severely punished.

Take some time to visit Victoria Park this weekend and visit the website of the Victoria Park Foundation.


Archival Collection at The Rooms: What have we in the archives about Queen Victoria:  In the search bar  type Victoria: http://gencat1.eloquent-systems.com/webcat/request/DoMenuRequest?SystemName=The+Rooms+Public&UserName=wa+public&Password=&TemplateProcessID=6000_3355&bCachable=1&MenuName=The+Rooms+Archives

Victoria Day in Newfoundland and Labrador marks the beginning of the summer, it is time to open the cabins  and get the camping gear out!!

Recommened Song:  Buddy Wasisname – 24th Of May.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fMzIpoDHLA&list=RD3fMzIpoDHLA#t=15



He asked the Queen to help him when he was 11

Donald Hawse  of St. Lawrence wrote Queen Elizabeth II when he was 11 years old. He wanted the Queen to know that his father was a First World War veteran but he had no records to prove this. He came to The Rooms sixty years after he wrote that letter. He was determined.

Take some time to watch this story:  (follows two short advertisements)  http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1093257283945

Recommended Exhibit: The First World War had a profound impact on Newfoundland and Labrador. It involved thousands of our people in world-changing events overseas and dramatically altered life at home. Our “Great War” happened in the trenches and on the ocean, in the legislature and in the shops, by firesides and bedsides. This exhibition at The Rooms  shares the thoughts, hopes, fears, and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who experienced those tumultuous years – through their treasured mementoes, their writings and their memories.

I will sing you home: Youtube video:  ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JeuCgA0rFIAn initiative of The Rooms in partnership with The Ennis Sisters, Shallaway Youth Choir and CBC.

The Rooms Will Be Closed On Saturday November 11 In Observance Of Remembrance Day.


Princess on a Newfoundland postage stamp

Archival Moment 

February  6, 1952

In Newfoundland the first recognition given to the future Queen occurred in 1933 with the young Princess Elizabeth appearing on a Newfoundland postage stamp. This was the first portrait of the Princess on any postage stamp.

In Newfoundland the first recognition given to the future Queen occurred in 1933 with the young Princess Elizabeth appearing on a Newfoundland postage stamp. This was the first portrait of the Princess on any postage stamp.

Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952, her coronation was held on June 2, 1953. The 16 month span allowed for a mourning period following the death of her father King George VI, and also for preparations for the coronation ceremony held in Westminster Abbey.

Queen Elizabeth, since her accession to the throne in 1952, has made 22 official Royal visits to Canada, usually accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and sometimes by her children Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward. Queen Elizabeth has visited every province and territory in Canada.

In Newfoundland the first recognition given to the future Queen occurred in 1933 with the young Princess Elizabeth appearing on a Newfoundland postage stamp. This was the first portrait of the Princess on any postage stamp. Robson Lowe, the philatelist, says “this was for some years one of the most popular stamps in the world”

The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, and her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, made their first appearance in Newfoundland in 1951, on behalf of her ailing father.

In June 1959 the Queen, accompanied by Prince Philip, was welcomed to St. John’s by Prime Minister John  Diefenbaker and Premier J. R. Smallwood the Royal couple crossed the island to Stephenville and detoured through to Labrador.

Other visits included the official visit in 1978 that included her majesty attending the St. John’s Regatta and her most recent visit in 1997 marking the 500th anniversary of John Cabot’s arrival in Newfoundland. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited St. John’s, Bonavista, North West River, Shetshatshiu, HappyValley and GooseBay.

Other short stop over’s in Newfoundland by the Queen have included.

1953 Newfoundland
1974 Gander, Newfoundland
1985 Gander, Newfoundland
1986 Gander, Newfoundland
1991 Gander, Newfoundland

The designation “Royal” has been given to number of institutions in the province including:

Royal Newfoundland Regiment  (1917)

Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club (1965)

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (1979)

Royal St. John’s Regatta (1993)

Recommended Archival Collection:  The Rooms Provincial Archives holds a number of small collections that relate to the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recommended Web site: http://www.govhouse.nl.ca/