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A visit by the Queen in 1977

The Story

Every smile, every wave, every official duty and every speech the Queen gives: that's what reporter Claude Henault is supposed to cover as he follows the royal tour. But last night the story wasn't the Queen. Henault is far more interested in the political dynamic as Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau hosts a state dinner for the Queen. Quebec Premier René Lévesque was there too, Henault tells Barbara Frum on the CBC's As It Happens. It has been a year since Lévesque's separatist Parti Quebecois swept the province, and Lévesque and Trudeau are politically at odds. That might explain why observers were quick to assume Lévesque deliberately snubbed Trudeau on his way into the dining hall. It wasn't a snub, just an oversight, Henault reports. The Queen then made a speech extolling national unity, seemingly aimed at Quebecers. But, Frum points out, most of them were probably watching the Canadiens play hockey instead. 

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Oct. 17, 1977
Guest(s): Claude Henault
Host: Barbara Frum, Alan Maitland
Duration: 5:45

Did You know?

• The Queen's speech at the state dinner was seen on CBC Television that night, as were scenes from the reception. One archival record refers to René Lévesque hiding his ever-present cigarette while talking with the Queen, then sneaking a puff from it when her back was turned.


• The following day, Oct. 18, Queen Elizabeth opened the Canadian parliament by reading the Speech from the Throne.

• Canada was among the last in a long list of countries the Queen visited during her silver jubilee in 1977. Between February and October that year she travelled throughout the British Isles and Northern Ireland, and to Western Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Canada, Jamaica, the Barbados and the Bahamas.

As It Happens made its debut on CBC Radio in November 1968. At first it was five and a half hours long, airing on Fridays only and rolling across each time zone.


• In 1971 the program was changed to a 90-minute broadcast five nights a week.


• Journalist Barbara Frum got her start on CBC Television in the late 1960s, but it was As It Happens that made her a star at the CBC. In 1982 she became co-host of television's new current affairs program The Journal.



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