Stratford citizens gathered to reflect and pay homage to late Queen Elizabeth II’s reign at a ceremony held at city hall on Friday.
Mayor Dan Mathieson led the proceedings, introducing Perth-Wellington MP John Nater, Perth-Wellington MPP Mathew Rae, local faith leaders Rev. Stephanie Donaldson, Rev. Jeff Lawson, and the most recent recipients of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal for public service, Richard and Ruth Kneider.
“We ask all of you to keep her in your thoughts and prayers in the coming days,” Mathieson said, “as we say goodbye to someone who for many of us will be the only Queen we will ever know.”
Nater and Rae shared stories of the late Queen. Rae remembered watching her Christmas broadcasts and the heart she exuded to the many nations which looked up to her. Nater recalled when he managed to spy the Queen in 1997 when she visited the Stratford Festival to see Taming of the Shrew. He was in a lawn chair six or seven rows back and managed to catch a glimpse.
“To paraphrase Shakespeare,” Nater explained. “We shall not look upon her like again.”
Prayers, hymns, and a bagpipe rendition of 'Amazing Grace' were performed after Ruth Kneider spoke about the service the Queen dedicated herself to. Lastly, monarch butterflies were released into the sky, a notion of goodwill for Canada’s late-monarch.
Stratford citizens recall what her late-majesty meant to them
Young and old came to see the proceedings. A long line formed for citizens to write their condolences in a book of condolences to be sent to the royal family.
One such citizen was Margaret Erb, 90, who only recently returned to Stratford from Kamloops, B.C. When she heard Stratford was hosting a remembrance, she made sure to attend. Erb wrote her fondest memory of the Queen.
“I was born in Switzerland,” said Erb gleefully. “And in ‘47, when she got married I went to see her wedding at the theatre (Westminster Abbey) … that was so important at the time. We didn’t have much of anything.”
Bryan Flikkema brought his four young children Elise, Miriam, William, and Jacqueline to sign the book. They signed feverishly, though Jacqueline was too young to spell her name. Even so, she managed to write a ‘J.’
The book will be available at the Destination Stratford office at 47 Downie St., before it’s sent to the royal family later this month.
Queen Elizabeth passed away on Sept. 8 after more than 70 years on the throne. She was sovereign of 32 countries during her reign. She is succeeded by her son, King Charles III.
Another service for the Queen takes place today (Sept. 19), Canada’s national day of mourning. At 7:30 p.m. today at the Cenotaph, veterans will pay tribute during a sunset ceremony.
Related: City remembers the late Queen after her passing: https://www.stratfordtoday.ca/local-news/moment-of-profound-sadness-mayor-dan-mathieson-5799279