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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Rolling Stones
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
It’s not just media who are out there stalking celebrities when they come to town.
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