By Kenyon Stronski
Westwind Weekly News
Queen Elizabeth the II’s death was a shock to the world when the news was first broken last Thursday, September 8, two days after welcoming the new Prime Minister to office. A national day of mourning for the Queen has been declared federally for Monday, Sept. 19, and residents of Magrath Rosemary Minors and Tracie Smith will be holding a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. at Magrath’s cenotaph.
“To do something as public as this is a first for me,” said Minors. “Tracie’s been quite involved in Magrath and the community since she’s lived here, and I am as well but I’ve never got involved quite at this level. For many of the years that we’ve lived here I have gathered together English people that I’ve known or people with English connections to celebrate St. George’s Day in April which is the Patron Saint of England and to do Guy Fawkes bonfire night in November. It’s just been in our home and sometimes we’ll have around 30 people here but that’s what those have been and it’s just been what we’ve been able to do in our own home. As far as organising something this large, other than a classic car rally my husband and I have organised, this is the most significant thing I’ve done.”
Fueled by a love of the Queen and the royal family, Minors and Smith decided to organise the memorial, immediately calling the town to ask if they could use the cenotaph. The town agreed, and looking to stay central to an area they contacted the museum board to see if they could utilise some of their assets as well.
“Both of our families emigrated to Canada, Tracie’s family came 15 years ago while mine came 25 years ago. We both love the Queen and the royal family so to use Tracie’s words when she texted me last Thursday morning, she just felt ‘absolutely gutted.’ She then said she’d like to organise something in the town and asked me to help, and I said yes. Not knowing quite exactly what would be involved but I know we live in a great community and we would get support doing this. Tracie immediately contacted the town office and they said we could use the cenotaph. The last couple of days I spoke to some of the museum board members and yesterday we went and visited the agricultural building next to the museum and so we’re able to go there, we can set up a display and if the weather’s not nice enough then people can mingle in there. So that’ll be nice because everything will be right next to each other.”
As of Wednesday, Sept. 14, no official decision has been made by the province of Alberta to accept the Day of Mourning as a provincial holiday.
“ It must have been her time, but I figure it was a shock for everybody. She was slowing down and getting around was hard but she hadn’t been hospitalised really so it was just a surprise. We just wanted to be able to show our respects, there’s a few English families in the community and there’s probably a large proportion of families that trace themselves back to Great Britain as well. We’ll see on Monday how much support we’ll get because it’s kind of an unknown in a way being that it’s such a unique day, and the federal government has decided it’ll be a holiday but now it’s up to the provinces and I don’t know if Alberta’s decided on anything. Whichever way it works is absolutely fine, but we just wanted to try and find what the government would do that day, and while we couldn’t do it the same time of day we wanted to try and pick a time when everything would start happening in England for us to start things here so that’s how we chose 11:00 a.m..”
The Queen’s funeral is scheduled for 4:00 a.m. Monday morning, and it’s said that many school boards and places of work are waiting for the province of Alberta’s decision to decide their next steps.
At Magrath’s memorial service, a display case will be set up for items such as commemorative coins, pictures, and newspaper clippings of the Queen to be showcased to the public. With people also being encouraged to share any stories they may have of the Queen.
“One person in town met the Queen in 2015 at a special service, and he’s got a photograph with the Queen and he has the commemorative coins that come out for each of her jubilee celebrations over her lifetime. There’s a lady who was in Elementary school the year of the Queen’s coronation in 1953 and all the children were given commemorative coins, and I’ve been told there’s a lady in town that still has hers. I know another called me last night and said they went through her mothers things and she has three scrapbooks of news clippings of the royal family going back before Queen Elizabeth. I myself have her silver jubilee book that was put out and a little vase that was put out. I know there’s some others that I’ll call, but I don’t quite know what they have. There’s also some stories that people are willing to share. We’re also hoping the school band will be able to play at the Cenotaph in the morning as well.”
“Tracie and I just feel this is important for us to recognise and do something here, it’s something we feel that we should do and as I put things out online I think it would be interesting to see what other feedback and phone calls I get. Maybe people will have things that are quite surprising.”
For more information, you can contact Minors at firstname.lastname@example.org or Smith at email@example.com.