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Looking back: Salmon Arm gave royal welcome to Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth

Royals stopped in Tappen, Salmon Arm and Sicamous during 1951 tour of Western Canada
A large crowd gathers for the arrival of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth in Salmon Arm in October, 1951. Image from the Denis Marshall Collection and courtesy the Salmon Arm Museum at R.J. Haney Heritage Village.

The date was Thursday, Oct. 18, 1951, and final details were being looked after in Salmon Arm in preparation for the arrival of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh.

A large stand was set up on the CP Rail property near the end of Alexander Avenue where the royal couple would be welcomed by Reeve W.J. Thompson (chair of the reception committee), local Girl Guides and Brownies, students from throughout the district and many others.

The prince and princess would stop in Tappen, Salmon Arm and Sicamous on Friday, Oct. 19. The visit took place shortly before Elizabeth’s coronation, and was one of two visits to the Shuswap she and Philip would make by rail that decade, the second one in 1959.

Approximately 4,000 people braved the rain to see the prince and princess when they arrived in Salmon Arm on a Friday afternoon.

Among them was Jimmy Watson, a Salmon Arm boy who struggled to take a photo of the future queen while holding a Union Jack. A tall man suddenly took hold of the flag, allowing Jimmy to get his photo.

After the picture was taken, the man handed the flag back and immediately stepped next to the princess. The man, Jimmy realized, was Prince Philip.

The prince and princess took their time mingling with the crowd, stopping frequently to share a few words with children and adults.

About 35 people greeted the royals in Tappen when their train stopped to pick up a pusher engine for its trip up the steep grade to Notch Hill.

“I am enjoying one of your fine McIntosh apples,” Philip told the crowd he and Elizabeth spent about 10 minutes conversing with before the train continued to Salmon Arm.

In Sicamous, at least 2,000 adults and 1,300 students waited to see the royal couple.

A strange quietness fell over the assembled crowd as the royal train pulled into the main line, just east of the CP bridge.

As the two stepped off the train, an attending band played God Save the King.

After introductions, Philip and Elizabeth were greeted by Brownie Clarice Cameron, 6, who presented a bouquet of roses and white carnations.

“Oh, is this for me? Thank you very much,” said Elizabeth, to which Clarice responded with a curtsy.

Philip and Elizabeth spent 10 minutes in Sicamous, once again socializing with the locals before continuing on their tour of Western Canada.

Originally published August 2019.

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Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (left) and Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh, visit Salmon Arm in October, 1951. Image from the Denis Marshall Collection and courtesy of the Salmon Arm Museum at R.J. Haney Heritage Village.

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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