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Hitch your wagon to a star

Queen Elizabeth visits the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa June 30, 2010.

Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen

By Matthew Pearson, Bruce Deachman and Nicki Thomas, The Ottawa CitizenJuly 1, 2010 8:17 AM.

OTTAWA — After unveiling the statue of jazz legend Oscar Peterson with a pull on a golden rope, Her Majesty, the Queen walked over to where Peterson’s widow, Kelly, and daughter, Celine, were standing.

The Queen shook hands with them and spoke of how much she’d enjoyed meeting Peterson himself and hearing him play when he performed for her and the Duke of Edinburgh at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall during a 2002 concert celebrating her Golden Jubilee. She even asked whether they liked the statue.

“She spoke about what an honour it was for Oscar,” Kelly Peterson said later, “and how pleased she was to be here to unveil the statue and asked if we were happy with the likeness.”

It was one of numerous brief exchanges in which the 84-year-old monarch engaged Wednesday during the first day of her four-day visit to Ottawa, but such moments, perhaps more than anything else, display the grace with which the Queen fulfils her royal duties.

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Thousands of people, young and old, retirees and office workers, packed sidewalks around the National Arts Centre to witness the unveiling. The crowd gasped as the velvet curtain rose to reveal artist Ruth Abernethy’s larger-than-life sculpture. The Queen seemed impressed.

“When she saw it, particularly when she went around it, she was very taken by it,” NAC president Peter Herrndorff said. “When she looked at the sculpture, she said, ‘That’s really interesting, it’s really Oscar.’”

Her Majesty, wearing a power-blue coat and hat, pearl earrings and necklace, showed the same attention to others. She spoke to 10-year-old Ty Weber, who, along with others, handed the Queen a bouquet of flowers (which were artfully handed to a nearby assistant). The youngster couldn’t remember what the Queen said to him.

Her presence seems to have that effect. “She looks you right in the eye. I didn’t know what to do,” said Norma Booth, 82, who waited in the crowd for three hours to shake Her Majesty’s hand. “She put her hand up and I thought, ‘Do I or don’t I?’ Then I thought, ‘Nothing to lose.’ I can’t believe it.”

Earlier, after arriving at the Ottawa airport from Halifax, the Queen and Prince Philip were greeted by Madison Trudeau, the 10-year-old niece of Transport Minister John Baird, who presented the Queen with a bouquet of pink and orange roses, officially welcoming the royal couple to the city.

After running the gauntlet of waiting politicians, the Queen and Prince Philip left in a motorcade for a visit to the newly renovated Museum of Nature. They were greeted by a collective cheer from the crowd of about 500 that had gathered outside.

Inside, the Queen toured the new Water Gallery, unveiled a plaque and met with museum volunteers. She also went on a brief walkabout during the 40-minute stop, accepting flowers and greetings.

One well-wisher was Amy Levengood, who had driven to Ottawa from Douglassville, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. “The Queen has been my hero since I was about 11- years old,” the 40-year-old said. “She is such a constant person in an ever-changing world. Her dedication is unmatched by so many public figures today. She has kept her integrity.”

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The sentiment was shared by others. Ann McJamet, accompanied by her daughter and three grandchildren, was taking part in her seventh royal visit, the first occurring in 1939, when McJamet was only two and the Queen was a 13-year-old princess.

“I usually cheer her on when she’s in town,” said McJamet, who held a weathered Union Jack flag in one hand. “I was brought up to revere the Queen and remain loyal to the Crown.”

Nearby, 24-year-old Sarah Russell wore the same lapel pin her grandparents kept from the Queen’s 1953 coronation tour of Canada. “I think it’s important to remember the roots of the country: where it started and where we come from,” she said. “And I think the Queen’s an impressive lady.”


Queen Elizabeth visits the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa June 30, 2010.
Queen Elizabeth visits the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa June 30, 2010. Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen

The moncitizenship is the new Canadian governmental task. The diplomatic lines of Republics of Yemen and Poland are non grata with their masks.

M.T. Al-Mansouri

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