Royals ‘n’ rock stars: A history of Edmonton celebrity stargazing

With mega pop star Drake and Her Royal Highness Princess Anne gracing Edmonton on the same two days — and we wonder, ‘who gets to stay in the Hotel Macdonald’s Royal suite’? Rock Paper Scissors, anyone? — we take a look back at the big names that have hit the city over the years.

Drake, who was the first non-country act to play Rogers Place when it opened in September 2016, is one of the world’s biggest music stars. He also played Edmonton in December 2013 at Rexall Place and at West Edmonton Mall’s Edmonton Events Centre (formerly Red’s, now Ed’s Rec Room) in 2010.

Princess Anne’s visit is her first to the city, following a long line of her family that have come here.

British royalty

2005: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip visit Edmonton for the fourth time in May 2005, this time during their tour of Alberta and Saskatchewan from May 17-25 to help the provinces mark their centennials. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived at Edmonton’s City Centre Airport on Victoria Day, May 23, a holiday named in honour of her great-great grandmother, Queen Victoria.

Upon arrival, the royals went to Commonwealth Stadium, where 25,000 people greeted them and country crooner Ian Tyson headlined a showcase of musical talent with connections to Alberta. The couple was met by Premier Ralph Klein and his wife Colleen and officially welcomed to the province.

Highway 2 between Edmonton and Calgary was renamed Queen Elizabeth II Highway.

On May 24, Prince Philip headed to Fort McMurray, where he toured the oilsands, the first such visit by a British royal. Syncrude will fly him over the area in a helicopter.

Meanwhile, the Queen, after a stop at the Provincial Museum of Alberta — which was officially renamed the Royal Alberta Museum in honour of the visit,  — visited the legislature, where she delivered a speech. She then went to the south entrance for a walkabout among the crowd, the first of two in Edmonton. She also mingled with a crowd at Churchill Square on May 26.

Queen Elizabeth II leaves Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel Macdonald iwith her husband Prince Philip during her 2005 to Alberta. The Queen stayed in the Royal Suite at the hotel during her stay.

Queen Elizabeth II receives flowers from Hillary Warden, 8, as she arrives at the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald from Commonwealth Stadium on May 23, 2005. Candace Elliott/Postmedia file

Queen Elizabeth II meets with Alberta Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong to present him with the Knight of the Order of St. John on May 23, 2005, at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. Larry Wong/Postmedia file

1983: Prince Charles and Princess Diana

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, officially opened the games at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium on July 1, 1983. It marked the first time the event was held in North America.

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, are flanked by Premier Peter Lougheed and his wife Jeanne Lougheed, on June 30, 1983. Dean Bicknell/Postmedia file

Diana, Princess of Wales, greets her fans in Edmonton in 1983.

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, exchange a quiet glance during their 1983 visit to open the World University Games.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Fort Edmonton Park in June 1983.

1978: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward

Queen Elizabeth opened the XI Commonwealth Games in Edmonton on Aug. 3, 1978.

After welcoming more than 1,900 athletes from 46 countries, the Queen told them: “As head of the Commonwealth, I regard today as a highlight in our calendar.

“We are a voluntary association of friendly nations from which there are more teams than ever before at Edmonton.”

The Queen was accompanied by her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, and sons Prince Andrew, 18, and Prince Edward, 14.

There were 42,400 spectators in the stands. An estimated 500 million watched the ceremonies on television.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed at the Westin when they attended the Commonwealth Games in 1978, as did Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales in 1983.

Queen Elizabeth II waves at the entrance to her plane alongside her son, Prince Edward, in July 1978 in Edmonton, where the Royal Couple and Andrew attended the opening on the Commonwealth Games.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip helped open the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978. They are pictured here with Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed, at left behind the Queen, and their son Prince Andrew.

1959: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

The Queen comes to Edmonton on July 21, 1959, as part of a massive 45-day tour of all of Canada.

Her activities here include a tree-planting ceremony during the dedication of Coronation Park.

Canada’s first civic planetarium opened in the park a year later, named Queen Elizabeth Planetarium to commemorate the visit.

Edmontonians gave her and Prince Philip a rousing welcome.

A crowd of more than 200,000 spectators lined the route of the royal procession through the city for a brief glimpse of the smiling Queen and her consort on their Edmonton tour.

Members of the royal party had spent the night aboard their private railway car on a secluded siding at Namao RCAF base, just north of the city.

At 10 a.m., the royal train pulled into the CNR station and a wave of excitement swept through the crowd.

The Queen and Prince Philip were greeted by Lt.-Gov. John Bowlen and his daughter, Mrs. Mary Mooney, Premier Ernest Manning and his wife Muriel, and Mayor William Hawrelak and his wife Pearl.

Moments later, the royal party walked out of the station in front of a sea of colour; flags waved mightily, and a greeting rose to a thunderous climax.

In a speech, Hawrelak said, “On behalf of the citizens of the City of Edmonton, we express to you our deepest appreciation of the honour of your visit. We most heartily join with all your people throughout the length and breadth of this great Dominion, dedicated to the ideals of democratic privileges and the rights of Canadian citizenship founded on the eternal laws of freedom and justice, to bid you welcome and trust that your stay with us will prove pleasant and enjoyable.”

The royal couple were in Edmonton for only 4-1/2 hours, but their visit was deemed a huge success.

1951: Princess and Duke of Edinburgh

A quarter of a million people crowded the streets to catch a glimpse of Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip during her first visit to Canada.

The couple was on a 33-day tour, filling in for her ailing father, King George VI, who was battling lung cancer. Extra railway coaches and buses were put in service to bring thousands of people from northern and central Alberta, who swelled the ranks of the city’s 159,000 residents.

“Princess Elizabeth, radiant and smiling, and her tall, handsome husband Prince Philip were accorded a thunderous welcome,” wrote Journal reporter Tom Mansell.

“It was another memorable day in Edmonton’s history, matched only by the visit of the King and Queen in 1939.” The sky was overcast with a light rain falling intermittently as the royal couple arrived by train for a 10-hour visit. They then stepped into a car for a 32-kilometre procession through the city.

The parade of 10 vehicles headed north on 101st Street to Kingsway, where youngsters waving flags lined both sides of the street. An estimated 80 school buses had brought in students from schools all over the district.

Earlier in the week, mayor Sidney Parsons announced that Portage Avenue from 101st Street to the 113th Street intersection with Kingsway would be paved and renamed Princess Elizabeth Avenue in honour of the visit of the Princess and Duke of Edinburgh.

Princess Elizabeth greets members of the Edmonton Eskimos at the city’s Clarke Stadium on Oct. 27, 1951, during her and her husband Prince Phillip’s tour of Canada that year. The couple spent 10 hours in Edmonton that day.

The Edmonton Journal’s front page on Saturday, Oct. 27, 1951.

1939: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Edmonton for a dozen heady, glorious hourson a bright, sunny June 2, 1939 in the middle of their month-long, nation-wide Royal Tour of Canada, the first by a reigning monarch.

Edmonton’s population of 92,000 swelled to 200,000 for the day as busloads of people from around the country came to see the King and Queen.

The city was bedecked with bunting, thousands of people crowded the city to view the royal motorcade, lining the streets and filling bleachers along Portage Avenue, which was renamed Kingsway in honour of the event.

The royal couple spent most of their Edmonton visit in their car as they made an extensive and tightly scheduled tour of the city.

A high point was 68,000 cheering, flag-waving men, women and children along Kingsway.

The Depression might still have been in full force, and the $1 surcharge for a bleacher seat may have been steep (the equivalent of $14 in today’s money) but the visit was too important to allow such things as simple, hard economics to interfere. Portage Avenue would be renamed Kingsway in honour of that day. Canadians could forget, at least for a moment, the rantings of Hitler and the rumblings from Europe that would soon prompt the Second World War.

The view from Portage Avenue in Edmonton, renamed Kingsway, where 68,000 lined the streets for a glimpse of King George VI and seen Elizabeth during their visit to the city in May 1939.

Flowers for Queen Elizabeth are presented on behalf of the poeple of Alberta by nine-year-old Marie Stacey, orphan from the Kiwanis Home in Edmonton, n the steps of the Alberta Legislature.

King George and Queen Elizabeth leave their train a Jasper, Alta., for the Jasper Park Lodge on May 30, 1939, while on their Royal Tour of Canada.


Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber signs an autograph for Lyna Kaiss at store Urban Behavior in West Edmonton Mall on Nov. 3, 2009.

Hundreds of fans lined up for hours to get an autograph from Justin Bieber on Nov. 3, 2009, at West Edmonton Mall.

Fans go wild as they watch Justin Bieber skateboard before his concert at Rexall Place on June, 14 2016, in Edmonton.

Justin Bieber poses for pictures with fans on Oct. 14, 2012, outside the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. Fans staked out the famous hotel for hours just hoping to get a glimpse of the Canadian music hearth-throb. Photo: Ron Palmer/Postmedia file.

Justin Bieber visits Hooters in West Edmonton Mall on Sept. 18, 2010, and poses with some of the servers. Photo: Postmedia file

Paul McCartney

Fans wait in the cold for a chance to see music legend Paul McCartney on Nov. 29, 2012, outside Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. Photo: Postmedia file

Music legend Paul McCartney leaves Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel Macdonald on Nov. 29, 2012. Photo: Postmedia file

The Rolling Stones

Rock superstar Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones enters Edmonton’s Hotel MacDonald on Oct. 2, 1994. Photo: Postmedia file.

Mick Jagger walks through a crowd of media and fans on Oct. 3, 1994, outside the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, where the Rolling Stones are staying during their tour stop. Photo: Rick MacWilliam/Postmedia file

Keith Richards was dressed for colder temperatures when he arrived at the Edmonton International Airport early on Sept. 30, 1994.

Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood poses for a photo with staff at The King & I restaurant on Oct. 4, 1994.

Rolling Stones lead guitarist Keith Richards autographs the guitar of Chris Plouffe on Oct 3, 1997, outside the stage door of Edmonton’s Winspear Centre, where the British rock band held a rehearsal.

Spencer Smithman gets a Rolling Stone CD liner signed by Ron Wood outside the Winspear Centre on Oct 4, 1997.


Rock star Bono of the band U2 shakes hands with fans on June 5, 1997, as he leaves the Fairmont Hotel MacDonald on his way to a sound check at the Commonwealth Stadium ahead of the group’s second show in Edmonton. Photo: Postmedia file

U2 singer Bono listens as a fan whispers something in his ear through the security fence at the Edmonton International Airport on June 13, 1997.

The Edge greets about 100 fans that had been waiting most of the day for autographs and pictures outside the Hotel Macdonald on June 14, 1997.

Britney Spears

Britney Spears signs autographs and talks to her faithful fans at a public appearance at West Edmonton Mall on July 22, 1999. Photo: Candace Elliott/Postmedia file

Britney Spears waves to her fans as she signs autographs Thursday afternoon at West Edmonton Mall during a promotional appearance before her concert that evening. Photo: Candace Elliott/Postmedia file

Avril Lavigne signs autographs on the red carpet on April 4, 2004, at Rexall Place, where that year’s Juno Awards were staged. Lavigne was nominated for two awards but didn’t win one. Photo: Ed Kaiser/Postmedia file.

Keith Urban

Country music star Keith Urban walks with movie star wife Nicole Kidman on Sept. 21, 2009, after their lunch at Edmonton’s Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. Photo: Postmedia file.

Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper signs autographs for the people that were watching him during an interview at K-Rock radio studio on Oct. 23, 2005. Photo: Ed Kaiser/Postmedia file


James Cameron

Director James Cameron, centre front wearing a blue shirt and tie, arrives at the Alberta Legislature on Sept. 29, 2010, with Jerry Bellikka of the premier’s office for a meeting with Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach. Photo: Bruce Edwards/Postmedia file

Chevy Chase

Actor Chevy Chase gets his makeup touched up during a break in shooting on the set of the movie Snow Day on Oct. 3, 1999, in the Alberta Provincial Museum parking lot.

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt at West Edmonton Mall on Sept. 21, 2005. Photo: Rosemary Austen/Postmedia file.


David Beckham

Los Angeles Galaxy superstar David Beckham and his team arrive at Edmonton International Airport on May 12, 2008, two days before an exhibition at the city’s Commonwealth Stadium against MLS rival Vancouver Whitecaps. Photo: Candace Elliott/Postmedia file

Los Angeles Galaxy superstar David Beckham signs autographs before getting on the the team bus on May 12, 2008. Photo: Candace Elliott/Postmedia file


Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau at his official welcoming at Edmonton City Hall on May 12, 1968. A mostly young and vocal crowd mobbed him as he signed dozens of autographs and kissed at least one young woman. Photo: Stan Fruet/Postmedia file

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