A Postscript on Royal Visits

Over the years, southeastern New Brunswick has witnessed a number of royal visits. In the spring of 1939 huge crowds gathered at the Sackville train station to greet the late King George VI and Queen Elizabeth as they neared the end of a memorable rail journey across Canada. The present Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, along with the Duke of Edinburgh stopped in Sackville during their first trip to this country in 1951. More recently, in 1985 as Queen Elizabeth II, she again came to Sackville during New Brunswick’s bicentennial. The setting was MacAulay Field where hundreds gathered to welcome Her Majesty. The Queen greeted dignitaries, signed the guest book, watched local performers and took a brief walkabout. One noteworthy moment occured before she left the Field. A small girl slipped from the crowd to present a yellow rose. It was accepted with the famous regal smile, just as the motorcade left for the Marshlands Inn, and afternoon tea. Once there, according to local legend, a stiff gin and tonic had to be quickly substituted for high tea; however, that is a story for another time.

Later this month, on 25-26 June, the spotlight will be on a visit by the Queen’s daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal. While in Moncton the Princess will attend les Jeux de l’Acadie the Acadian Games and help the 8th Canadian Hussars celebrate their 150th anniversary. She serves as honorary colonel-in-chief of the Hussars, Canada’s oldest armoured regiment. There will be a parade in Centennial Park, the presentation of a new battle standard or guidon to this famous unit and a regimental dinner. To round out the visit, the Princess will attend a church service on 26 June at St. Martin’s-in-the-Woods, Shediac Cape.

This church was built in 1822-23, largely through the effort of one of Shediac’s first English settlers, William Hanington. A native of London, and a member of the famous Fishmonger’s Guild, Hanington acquired a tract of 5,000 acres at Shediac. in 1785. When he left England he was under the impression that his land was only a day’s march from Halifax. Upon his arrival, he was dismayed to find that it was more than 400 kilometres distant. Not one to be discouraged, he immediately made the long journey to inspect his new property. Liking what he saw, he set about clearing land and establishing a new business. Over time Hanington became involved in a wide variety of enterprises ranging from fishing to lumbering and shipbuilding.

However, one thing was missing. A devout Anglican, he was determined to use some of his new prosperity to erect a church. At first, it was the custom to hold services in his home. His dream came true in 1823, when the new church was completed. Hanington was also responsible for suggesting its attractive name. Although the church was located in a grove of stately trees; the true inspiration came from Hanington’s old London church St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields. This beautiful structure with its famous portico, dates from the 18th century, and remains today, a familiar landmark in London’s Trafalgar Square.

St. Martin’s-in-the-Woods, also a building of considerable beauty and architectural merit, will mark its 175th anniversary this year, making the visit of the Princess Royal an even more significant event. Are there any readers who have memories of previous royal visits to the area? If so, I would be pleased to hear from you.