Thursday, July 12, 2012

The King's Trip: George VI visits Oba, Ontario

My family is rich in photo albums.  This wealth is the result of generations of avid, amateur photographers eagerly capturing the moments, preserving them and passing them down through various branches of the family.  Though we've begun the process of digitizing our treasures, the backlog is more than a bit daunting especially when it comes to identifying some of those smiling faces from times gone by.

A recent family gathering saw us clustered around one such family album dedicated to Oba, Ontario.  I've heard Oba described as being "in the heart of Canada’s vast wilderness" and these pictures from the 1930's & 40's certainly highlight this aspect with beautiful lakes, endless forests, little boys holding large fish and ... on the very last page ... a posh-looking couple posing in front of a train?

As it was late in the day and the photo rather small, I had to squint to make out the image.  Yes, it turns out it's a picture of George VI and Queen Elizabeth snapped by one of my grandparents during the 1939 royal tour of Canada.  The royal couple looks relaxed & happy and I can just imagine my grandmother asking them to please hold still while she adjusts her camera and takes the picture!

My father can remember the train stopping for water that day in Oba.  Of course almost the whole town, just over 100 people at that time, turned out to see it.  That the royal couple actually got out and wandered amongst the "crowd" seems astonishing to me but I guess it was a very different time.  The 1939 royal tour marked the first visit of a reigning monarch to Canada and these pictures show some of the first "walkabouts" ever performed by the royal family.

The very sight of the Queen gave pleasure, as did her manner. ... During the long journeys across the continent, she and the King took full advantage of halts, even short ones.  Day after day they would leave the royal train and, to the consternation of the security men, plunge into the crowds and talk. ... Queen Elizabeth gave instructions that the King and she must be told whenever the engineer observed a collection of people by the side of the line ahead, so that they could be seen waving back from a window. 'Slow down, so that we all get a good look', she said.
 Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother by  Godfrey Talbot

It seems more than fitting that these photos came back into our lives just as Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee and I'm delighted to have discovered this little connection between the royals and our family.

I think that I will celebrate with a night spent watching The King's Speech.

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic Family Album (1939)
Update: Find out more about Wallis & Elizabeth

Have you ever unearthed unexpected treasures in your family photo albums or scrapbooks?  I would love to hear the stories of your discoveries.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Step by Step: The View after 500 miles

l really couldn't have asked for a better place to earn my 500 Mile Badge from Fitbit.  Just look at that view of Lake Superior taken from the cliffs of the Welcome Islands!

I would like to think that karma had something to do with it as I certainly wasn't planning on reaching this milestone while enjoying my favourite wilderness spot but everything just magically fell into place.  I was having such a great time scrambling over the rocky shores, hiking up the cliffs and even breaking a bit of a trail through the forest that I wasn't even thinking of the fitness points that I was racking up.  Fitness for fun - what a concept!!

I've written before about how virtual "pats on the back" help to keep me going on the fitness trail  (Fitbit Challenge: Virtual Badges & Real-Life Rewards) and so it's exciting to realize the real-life reward of being able to negotiate this rather challenging terrain almost like when I was a child spending my summer days playing there.

Speaking of real-life rewards, I also got to go on a bit of a shopping spree at Take a Hike, an excellent outdoor lifestyle store that I make sure to visit every time I return to Thunder Bay.  You just have to love how weight loss goes hand-in-hand with buying new clothes!

It's been quite a journey between 250 miles (Step by Step: 250 Miles and an Earbug) and 500.  Many thanks to all my Fitbit friends who provide daily encouragement to get in those 10,000 steps.

On that note, I'm always looking to make new Fitbit friends, so if you're interested give me a shout.  I'll try not to talk your ear off :)

Photos: Tatiana Dokuchic Family Album (June 25, 2012)

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