The death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 is being mourned around the world, including the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
The Queen served 70 years on the throne and saw through 12 Canadian prime ministers.
In a statement, her son King Charles III called her death one of great sadness for him and his family.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished Sovereign and much-loved mother,” the statement reads. “I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.
The City of Parksville lowered the flags at the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre (PCTC) and they will remain that way until sunset on the day of Her Majesty’s memorial service.
“It’s very sad. I mean she did a wonderful job at 96,” said Ann Carney, who works at Churchill’s British Imports in Parksville. “A lot of people have been in today and are kind of sad about it. We all said what a wonderful woman she was and how hard-working she was. She’ll be missed.”
Carney came to Canada in 1967 and said she has lost touch a bit since she hasn’t been back to the UK in more than 20 years, but she recalled the street party following Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953.
In Qualicum Beach, the flags at town hall will be at half-mast until Sept. 19.
Qualicum Beach has been visited by the Royal Family and served as a place of rest and relaxation several times over the years, according to a news release by Lorraine Bell, Qualicum Beach Museum manager.
In 1951, then Princess Elizabeth (before her coronation) and Prince Philip paid an informal visit to Eaglecrest Lodge, back when the population of Qualicum Beach was just 760.
Prince Phillip drove the couple up Island from Victoria, with a stop in Nanaimo. They stayed in town from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26.
The two went fishing on lodge owner E.L. Boultbee’s boat for two hours and the prince reportedly caught two salmon. When they left, school children lined the road from the lodge to the Island Highway, according to the museum.
In Parksville there was a crowd of approximately 3,500 to cheer them. As it was an informal visit, there were no receptions or ceremonies, according to the release.
They returned in 1987 and landed at the Qualicum Beach Airport, flying in from Victoria. They drove up to the Milner Estate, but not before being caught in traffic on the Island Highway for 10 minutes.
“Security forces were everywhere, on land, sea and air,” the release read. “Mrs. Milner moved from her home into the Old Dutch Inn. Leo Tiejgeman, owner-chef of the Old Dutch Inn, prepared all their meals during their two-day stay, except for two barbeques.”
Before being served to the Royal couple, the food was tested by a health inspector, transported in a heated government van and then tested again by three health officials, one of whom was from England.
The prince used the pool, played tennis, and barbecued twice, apparently insisting upon real charcoal rather than a gas barbecue. He even managed to find some time to do a little sketching on the beach. Queen Elizabeth enjoyed walking in the garden and relaxing.
On display at the Qualicum Beach Museum is the Royal car’s licence plate from the 1951 visit.
The plate was mounted and kept by Jimmy White, who was secretary-treasurer of School District 69 at the time and organized the children who lined the streets for the Royal visit. White was a noted licence plate collector. The plate, along with photos and mementos of Queen Elizabeth and her visits to Qualicum Beach can be seen at the Qualicum Beach Museum starting September 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
– With a file from Canadian Press