Story and photos by Bradley McIlwain
Bells sounded earlier this morning outside St. George’s Memorial Anglican Church to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee as members of the community and congregation flooded in to attend a Choral Matins honouring her accession to the throne.
“It’s a real celebration of 60 years,” said Geoff Lloyd, assistant priest at St. Georges. “We put this service together for people to have the opportunity to commemorate her reign.”
Lloyd travelled to Canada last August from the United Kingdom with his family after retiring from his parish in Plymouth, Co. Devon. “It was an excellent turnout, and the people of Oshawa have shown great love for their queen.”
The Reverend Canon Anthony Jemmott, who presided over the service, said: “today is part of the church’s continued service to the community and outreach within the City of Oshawa.”
St. George’s Church has a long history with the city dating back to 1843, with service being held in the old courthouse. The original building was erected in 1847 at the northeast corner of Park Road and King Street until 1858 when the current building on Centre Street was built.
The Anglican Church is formally recognized as the Church of England in Canada, and there were many people of British heritage in attendance, adorned in colourful pins, hats and traditional flags to show their support.
“We were old enough to remember when she ascended the throne,” says Anne Lord, who made the trip from England to Canada when she was a young girl, and was in attendance today with her friend Jeanette Haywood. “It’s a very important day, and we’re happy to be here.”
“She’s done a very good job over the years,” added Haywood, who confesses her love of the royal pageantry.
Josephine Masters, who was born in Yorkshire and lived in England until she was 23, recalls a childhood experience at a service for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. “I’ve always attended any services during the Queen’s visits since I was a little girl,” says Masters, “and sung at the Queens Coronation at the Town Hall in Lancaster,” where she grew up.
In the pew behind Masters was Dianne Redmond, who was wearing a lively smile as she waved a small, African flag. “I was 6-7 when I came to Canada,” she remembers, “to be free from apartheid that was going on at that time. I’m proud to be here, and it’s wonderful to be part of the celebration.”
The choir at St. George’s sang choruses from the Queen’s coronation that echoed as they recited on either side of the ornate reredos and stained glass, accompanied by the reverent gong of guest organist Clement Carelse that elevated the presence in the room.
Mayor John Henry was at the service to share his thoughts on this special occasion, and invited all attendees to join him at City Hall for tea and conversation. “Today is an amazing day, celebrating a fantastic monarch and it’s another moment in history as part of Canada,” he said. “This is something that started out as an idea with the church, and it’s a privilege to be here and celebrate.”
Many made their way their way across the street to City Hall and were greeted with music by the Heartstrings Quartet of the Durham Youth Orchestra who performed pieces by classical musicians such as Mozart and Handel.
The 151 Chadburn Squadron Royal Canadian Air Cadets of Oshawa greeted guests as they arrived. “It’s pretty important to me,” says Deckland Lloyd who is in his 3rd year as a cadet. “We have British relatives in my family, and we hear a lot about her [the Queen].”
In line getting coffee, I meet Joanne Aoudstra, who tells me of her run in with Prince Phillip just last year. “I flew down to England with my friends and I bumped into him downtown. He was doing some banking. We talked for a few minutes, and I said, ‘I heard you have a love of horses,’“ Aoudstra is an equestrian by trade, and has won awards at Ontario horse shows has been riding since she was sixteen.. “He said he has two horses that he shows every year at CNE.”
The oldest parishioner of St. Georges, Lillian Sharples who recently turned 101, was proud to give her show of support as her lifelong friends stood with her. “I was born February 8, 1911,” says Sharples, all her wits about her. “I’m very happy to be here, because my parents were from British origin, and I admire the Queen immensely.”