Friday, 8 October 2010

Thanksgiving and the Royal Connection

Monday, Canadians will celebrate Thanksgiving, a day "For general thanksgiving to Almighty God for the blessings with which the people of Canada have been favoured."  And, while most of us will mark the day by feasting on turkey and spending time with family and friends, I thought it would be worthwhile to share the Royal connection with our Thanksgiving holiday.

While the roots of Thanksgiving go back centuries, the first Thanksgiving Day holiday post-Confederation was actually observed on April 15, 1872, to celebrate the recovery of The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) from a serious illness.

Prince Albert Edward in 1860

The eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Edward contracted typhoid in the winter of 1871 and almost died.  His recovery was greeted with relief and was celebrated across the British Empire.  Canada celebrated the Prince's recovery with Thanksgiving Day.

That Canada's first Thanksgiving Day was to celebrate the Prince of Wales is quite appropriate.  In 1860, the Prince became the first heir to the throne to extensively tour British North America (and the U.S.).  That year, he laid the cornerstone of the Centre Block of Parliament in Ottawa, inaugurated the Victoria Bridge in Montreal, and opened Queen's Park in Toronto.

Statue of King Edward VII at Queen's Park, Toronto

Edward became King in 1901 following the death of Queen Victoria.  He reined for just over nine years until his death in 1910. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Robert / The D.C.

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