Rain fails to dampen royal visit enthusiasm
Wednesday, May 18, 2005 Updated at 2:59 PM EDT
Regina — Undeterred by a heavy downpour, the Queen arrived at the Saskatchewan legislature in a laundau Wednesday to address a rain-soaked crowd of politicians and admirers about the province's centennial.
The Queen carried a clear, plastic umbrella to ward off the torrent as she inspected a scarlet-clad RCMP honour guard and Canadian Forces army, navy and air force reserves.
Her majesty and Prince Philip were greeted by Prime Minister Paul Martin, Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert and Lt.-Gov. Lynda Haverstock. A 21-gun salute then rumbled on the grounds.
Almost 3,000 Saskatchewan residents began assembling, oblivious to the rain, more than an hour before the royal couple's arrival.
Mr. Calvert made light of the turbulent weather that greeted the Queen's arrival Tuesday and Wednesday.
He said the stiff breeze that blew across the province Tuesday "is like the spirit of our province — it's free, ever-changing and always detemined."
He also noted spring rain is always welcome in the agrarian province and considered a gift to the land.
"You will always be as welcome in this province as the spring rain," he told the Queen. "Your presence is a gift to our centennial."
The smiling monarch, dressed in a tan trench coat and wine-coloured hat, noted that this visit is her 22nd to Canada, but the memories of her first are still vivid in her mind.
"I remember the magnitude of this country, matched only by the generosity and kindness of the people whom I met along the way, not least here," she said.
"Since then, Prince Philip and I have seen Saskatchewan evolve into a forward-looking province of fertile landscapes, dynamic towns and cities with expanding, diverse communities, taking great pride in what you have built and continue to build together."
Mr. Martin saluted Saskatchewan residents on their centennial, calling them "tough, practical people who dared to dream — stubborn and proud people."
He said many didn't have a lot, but they had something no one could take from them — their optimism.
"The history of Saskatchewan is a story of compassion, struggle, ingenuity and achievement," he said.
Mr. Martin also lauded the Queen for her commitment to Canada as a whole.
"Your affection and dedication to our country has never wavered," he said. "In Saskatchewan, we give you our loyalty, our deep affection and a welcome to this most wonderful part of Canada."
He advised the monarch the federal government is making a donation in her name to a memory project initiative at the Dominion Institute, which seeks to link generations by encouraging young people to archive the testimony of former veterans.
The Queen's visit was a thrill for 10-year-old Amy Martin, a Grade 4 student who presented the monarch with a bouquet of flowers.
"I haven't seen her before so it was really cool," she said.
Brandon Gabel, 10, said it was well worth the wait in the rain to see her.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," he said.
The Queen unveiled a plaque inaugurating gardens bearing her name on the legislature grounds. She also unveiled the Golden Jubilee Equestrian Statue of herself on her horse, Burmese, given to her as a gift by the RCMP many years ago.
After entering the legislature to meet members of the legislative assembly, she unveiled a plaque giving a committee room a native name, as well as a mural depicting two aboriginal people in a canoe looking up at a bush plane.
Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, went on to a sod-turning for a Saskatchewan war memorial before rejoining the Queen for a luncheon in the rural community of Lumsden, about a half-hour drive outside Regina.
On Tuesday, the royal couple were greeted at the airport by Martin and Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson before visiting the First Nations University of Canada in Regina.