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1987 Royal visit was 'absolutely successful' in every sense

On Oct. 19, 1987, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, visited Kamsack and Veregin.

KAMSACK, VEREGIN — On Oct. 19, 1987, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Phillip, visited Kamsack, Veregin and Canora. William Koreluik of the Kamsack Times was one of the reporters covering the event. This article comes from a 1987 Royal Visit Souvenir Edition printed in the Canora Courier, Kamsack Times, Norquay North Star and Preeceville Progress.


"My they're gracious, just gracious people. It was so uplifting. Just super, really super. It was a happy half-hour."

With these words, Islay Rink, the wife of mayor Bernie Rink, Kamsack's official host of the Queen and Prince Philip, expressed what many in the community felt about the royal visit on Monday.

The mayor and his wife were with the royal couple throughout their stay in the community and were in the enviable position of having experienced first-hand the honor of conversing with them.

Similarly, at Verigin, where the Queen and Prince toured the National Doukhobor Heritage Village for 20 minutes, Harry Shukin of Kamsack and Alex Sherstabitoff of Verigin collected precious memories as they guided the couple through the village. And many people, in the crowds, in the receiving lines at Kamsack and at Verigin, in the school auditorium, before and after the program, were fortunate enough to exchange greetings with the couple.

Many students, guests and media personnel mentioned the close-to-tears emotions felt when God Save The Queen was sung with the Queen in the room, in clear view.

"Except for the weather, the visit was absolutely successful in every sense of the word," Mayor Rink said of the visit, which he termed a highlight of his life and the definite highlight of his term as mayor. "Everyone worked hard to help assure the visit would be the success it was," Rink said. "The program went over well, there wasn't a hitch anywhere.

"No one turned us down, no matter what we asked of them in the planning," he said. "We had the co-operation of everyone. "And our people did us proud," he said.

"Entering the Kamsack Junior High School auditorium, the Queen, having seen the children, the choir on stage and the beautiful decorations, said 'It's lovely in here!'," Rink said. He explained how both the Queen and the Prince took the time to speak to each of the aldermen in the receiving line and the Prince greeted a number of members of the Legion honour guard outside.

"We had been worried about what we would talk about with the Queen and Prince, but that was needless," Islay Rink said. "They put us at ease immediately."

The Prince has a super sense of humor and commented on each part of the program, she said. The Queen, too, had queried Rink on the entertainment, each item in turn. She had asked him from where the choir members came, and after being told, she complimented the group on its performance.

The Prince asked about the Tinyville dancers, saying the square dance was not a traditional native dance. "No," Islay said, explaining that square dancing is popular among both children and adults in the area.

Sensing that the Queen was impressed with the ballet, the mayor told her that the group was being taught by Colleen Hunter of Toronto. The Prince recognized Caryn Gardner, one of the ballerinas, as the girl who presented flowers to the Queen earlier, Islay explained. "The Queen's face lit up when the children sang the Song of Saskatchewan," Rink said. She asked if the song was new and he explained it was not.

"The kids took the show. The Queen and Prince were all ears when they sang." "She seemed genuinely pleased when I mentioned that Queen Elizabeth Boulevard has been named in her honour as an everlasting memory to all of us of her visit," he said.

After the mayor presented the Queen with the cover of the history book, a full copy of which will be mailed to Buckingham Palace after it is printed, the royal party burst into laughter when the Prince commented, "What do we have to do, keep this and wait for the book?" Rink explained.

The Queen had not been following her program and, after the last item, she looked as though she was enjoying herself and was waiting for more, Rink said "I had to tell her the program was over and the people were waiting for the departure."

When the three-piece grouping of pottery was presented on behalf of the community, the Prince asked Islay about the artist and she pointed out John Floch, who was sitting in the front row opposite the royal party. As the couple was about to leave, the Prince turned to his wife saying, "Come on, I want you to meet the man who made the pots," Rink explained.

"Looking very much at ease, the Prince asked me if the pots were made from local materials," Floch said of his meeting with the couple. "He asked about raku, whether the word referred to a local process. When I told him it was a Japanese process, that seemed to jog his memory."

The Queen told Floch the pots were "very nice" and said she hoped they will arrive home safely. 

After the program, protocol officials told Rink how well the couple appreciated the spontaneous cheering of the children and said the Kamsack program was one of the best short programs to be performed for the Queen.

At Verigin, Harry Shukin and Alex Sherstabitoff explained the religious philosophy of the Doukhobors and told the ro)a.1 couple how the visit re-established the tie the Doukhobors have with the monarch.

"The indebtedness to the Queen has been made known and we let her know that we still feel the same way towards the monarchy as the Doukhobors did when Queen Victoria gave them their haven in Canada in 1899," Shukin said.

The Queen's responses to our comments were very good, he said, describing how she seemed particularly interested in the style of ar-chitecture of the prayer house and stayed inside longer than expected.

The fact that the Queen stopped to shake hands with each of the pioneers waiting in the Tolstoy museum was significant and very much appreciated, he said. In the bakery, not only the Queen, but many of the royal party, were given loaves of freshly-baked bread.

The Prince was very informal and took time to speak to everyone, Shukin explained. "To a group of children he said, "Ahhh, you're play-in hooky today." When told by someone in the audience that they were waiting since 11 a.m., he said, 'Why did you want to do that?'"

About 2,500 persons saw the Queen at Verigin and when leaving the village she turned to Shukin and said that "the harsh weather certainly did not dampen the spirits of the people around here."

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