CBC Digital Archives

Queen Elizabeth's 1959 Dominion Day message

On Feb. 6, 1952, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was proclaimed Queen of Canada. Her spectacular coronation in Westminster Abbey the following year was heard by millions on the radio and was the first ever to be televised. When she visited Canada in 1951, 1957, 1959 and 1964, Elizabeth left an indelible mark on Canadians coast to coast.

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Six years after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth is still finding her feet as sovereign in 1959. In the midst of a long tour of Canada, the young Queen makes a Dominion Day address to the country from her Canadian residence at Rideau Hall. In English and French, she praises the country for having attained unity and notes that Canada was the first independent country in the Commonwealth. In this CBC special, the Queen also says she is glad that in a country too big for her to visit everywhere, television can take her into all Canadian homes.
• The Queen's Dominion Day speech was broadcast on radio and TV. According to a report in the Globe and Mail the following day, British media were so impressed with both the setting and the substance of the speech that they sent the Queen a congratulatory message when it was over.
  • At 45 days, the Queen's 1959 tour with her husband, Prince Philip, was the longest visit she has ever made to Canada. During that tour she officially opened the St. Lawrence Seaway, took in "Indian Days" in Nanaimo, B.C. and observed some events at the Calgary Stampede.

• Later on July 1, 1959, the Queen hosted a dinner at Government House in Ottawa. A selection of 37 Canadians from all walks of life met her at the dinner, including hockey player Maurice "Rocket" Richard.

• During her 1959 visit, the Queen also named Georges Vanier as Canada's new Governor General. In 2010 she was expected to name the replacement for outgoing Governor General Michaelle Jean while visiting Canada. 

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television Special
Broadcast Date: July 1, 1959
Guest(s): Queen Elizabeth
Duration: 8:49

Last updated: July 2, 2014

Page consulted on July 2, 2014

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