WESTLOCK – Westlock-area residents will join millions of others around the world in honouring the life and service of the late Queen Elizabeth II during a Monday, Sept. 19 ceremony at the Westlock Cenotaph which starts at 11 a.m.
The day has been declared a National Day of Mourning in Canada to mark the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who died Sept. 8, and also marks the end of Canada’s official period of mourning.
“We do a special service for veterans when they pass away … I’ll be doing that service Monday because she was a veteran,” said Westlock Legion president Marjorie Steele. “We’ll also recognize her 70 years of service as Queen.”
As part of the service, a prayer will be recited, last post will be played and a wreath will be laid at the cenotaph to honour Queen Elizabeth II. Steele noted comments from legion members over the past week have included “what an honour it is to have had her (as Queen) for that long” and “she was like no other monarch that we’ve ever had.”
Steele, who is of British heritage and her father was born in England, shared a special memory involving the Queen and her eldest son Scott when he was about 10 years old during the summer of 1978. The family had recently moved from Saskatchewan to Fort Saskatchewan when the Queen and Prince Philip made a stop in the town, prior to attending the Commonwealth Games.
“I remember when her father died, I was nine years old,” said Steele. “We were having a due down at the park in Fort Saskatchewan and the Queen came. She was going to the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, and she came down to the park and my oldest son got to shake her hand,” said Steele. “He came running over and said mom I’ll never wash my hand again — Queen Elizabeth shook my hand — he was just walking on air …he remembers to this day how he felt when she shook his hand.”
In addition to the ceremony in Westlock, Albertans will be able to participate in an outdoor ceremony in honour of the late Queen Elizabeth II at the Alberta legislature Sept. 19 at 10 a.m.
“Albertans, Canadians and the peoples of the Commonwealth will join together on this day in sorrow to mourn the death of her late Majesty and to commemorate her long and faithful service,” said Alberta premier Jason Kenney.
There will also be a national commemorative ceremony in Ottawa, that will be preceded by a memorial parade and a 96-gun salute — one shot for each year of her Majesty’s life, followed by a flypast of Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18’s.
“For most Canadians, she was the only monarch we ever knew and many of us felt a deep affection and appreciation for her dedication to Canada,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement last week.
The Queen acceded to the throne Feb. 6, 1952 and was crowned in Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. She reigned for over 70 years and will be buried at Windsor Castle next to her late husband Prince Philip.