Every night, Loveday Cadenhead, a frail but lively 93-year-old Toronto woman, sleeps beneath a portrait of her queen, Elizabeth II. A dedicated, lifelong monarchist, Cadenhead says that her goal is to live to the age of 100 so that she can receive a congratulatory telegram from the Queen. Such staunch devotion to the British Crown is much less common in Canada than it once was, but most Canadians outside of Quebec, regardless of age, still believe that the country should maintain its current ties to the monarchy, according to a Gallup poll released in August. Support for the monarchy is weakest in Quebec, the poll showed, and strongest in Ontario, the province that will host a royal tour by Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, from Oct. 23 to 29. For Cadenhead, the tour will be another chance to see and perhaps speak to members of the Royal Family. “I’ll be at the airport when they arrive,” she said.
Although royal tours always produce displays of public affection for members of the Royal Family, the number of dedicated Canadian monarchists remains relatively small. Officials of the Toronto-based Monarchist League of Canada, founded in 1970 to preserve and promote the connection to the Crown, say that the league has 17,000 members in 20 chapters across the country. And some constitutional experts contend that the monarchy remains a useful institution. Said one of them, Peter Russell, a political scientist at the University of Toronto: “It’s a fail-safe device because every once in a while, the political system goes sour. You need someone who is above the system to resolve an impasse.”
Link: Most constitutional experts acknowledge that the Queen, through her representatives, the Governor General in Ottawa and the provincial lieutenant-governors, is rarely called upon to exercise her powers. But John Aimers, the 39-year-old Toronto high-school teacher who founded the Monarchist League and who remains its chairman, said that the monarchy is a tangible link with the country’s past. He added that having a hereditary monarch as Canada’s head of state makes the country different from the United States. But, said the league chairman, “The average American, both school kid or adult, is immensely better informed about his system of government than the average Canadian. That is distressing. We should know about our country.”
Regardless of how well they understand the role of the Crown, many Canadians continue to believe that the country should retain its ties to the monarchy. According to the August Gallup poll, 50 per cent of those questioned said that the Queen should remain Canada’s head of state, while 36 per cent said that the link with the monarchy should be severed. Slightly more than 60 per cent of Ontarians, British Columbians and Atlantic Canadians supported the existing system, while only 23 per cent of Quebecers and 52 per cent of Prairie residents felt that the royal connection should be maintained. Surprisingly, poll participants between the ages of 18 and 29 expressed as much support for the monarchy as those over 65.
But representatives of some organizations based on loyalty to the Crown acknowledge that they are attracting fewer young people. Norman Ritchie, 58, grand secretary of the Toronto-based Grand Orange Lodge of Canada, said that his group has about 100,000 members across the country, roughly the same as 70 years ago when the population was onethird of what it is now. Ritchie estimated that the average age of Orange Lodge members is about 50 and said that its youth groups are small. Grace Hasson, grand secretary of the Ladies’ Orange Benevolent Association of New Brunswick, said that membership has declined to about 800 from more than 1,000 six years ago. Said Hasson: “Our older members are dying off and the younger generation isn’t interested in the monarchy at all.”
Educating schoolchildren about the value of the monarchy is also one of the main activities of the Nanaimo Empire Days Society of Nanaimo, B.C., said society secretary Joyce Aldcroft, 61. She added that Nanaimo has held a festival on Empire Day, a holiday established in Britain to observe Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24, 1819, every year since 1867. Said Aldcroft: “We need our traditions. If you don’t know where you came from, you won’t know where you’re going.”
Toronto’s Cadenhead says that she can trace her monarchist leanings to January, 1901, when Queen Victoria died. Cadenhead said that she was only three years old at the time, but that she can still remember the sadness and sombre atmosphere in her family home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. She said that she saw King George VI and Elizabeth, mother of the present queen, in Toronto in May, 1939, which was the first time a reigning monarch visited Canada. And during royal tours in the mid-1980s, Cadenhead presented bouquets of flowers to Princess Anne and the Duchess of York, Sarah. Cadenhead added that she expected to be at Toronto’s international airport on Oct. 23 with a bouquet for the Princess of Wales—and a word of advice for her husband, the Prince of Wales. Charles is better off as a prince, she said, because he can speak out on issues that concern him, including architecture and the environment. But as king, says Cadenhead, he will be expected to maintain a royal silence on such issues.
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