COMMENTARY · 23rd April 2010
Saturday, July 18, 1959, Terrace was treated to the spectacular visit of the Queen of the British Empire and Commonwealth. Crowds of more than 12,000, 10 to 12 deep, lined up from the location of the Back Eddy Pub to Emerson Street on Lakelse and Lazelle Avenues.
It was a quick visit as the Royal procession drove down Lakelse to Kalum Street, north to Lazelle, west to Emerson, back south to Lakelse and east to the Old Skeena Bridge and back to the Airport. The short visit however created a lifetime of memories.
The picture above is a bit of a mystery as the young boy standing in front of the Queen is still unknown. This is true for some of the others such as the two men on the very right behind the young boy.
The Native Chief in his regalia looking down at the unknown young boy is 96 year old Supreme Chief of the Ksan Gitxsan Nation of Damelahamid, Arthur McDames, who was born at Skeena Crossing in 1863. Attending with McDames, to his right, is his niece from Prince Rupert, Princess Antquelidisque, Mrs. Edna Harris.
McDames was one of the last Totem Pole carvers of his era. The practice of the First Nations culture was forbidden which included celebration feasts (Potlatch) and Totem carving. Only recently has the successor governments to the British/Church control recognized the wrong and allowed First Nations to become recognized as human beings and practice their culture again.
Pictured below are Tsimshian - Kitsumkalum Hereditary Chief Charles Nelson and his wife Emma. It was Charles and Emma who first encountered George Little after he walked from the Kitimat Area and set up a cabin near to where the Old Skeena Bridge is now, around 1905. At the time most of the native families had moved to the coast to work in the canneries. Only one native family remained at Kitselas and most of the region was left unoccupied right up to Port Essington. It was easy to spot a new comer as Chief Nelson did while paddling up the Skeena.
Emma passed away at the age of 105 on June 27, 1959, just a few weeks before the Queen arrived.
If you know the boy in the picture, likely in his late 50's, please add it as a comment to this story. Same goes for the Native gentlemen.
Comment by Y Moen on 25th April 2010
Queensway Drive was named by Bill McRae and a committee - visit by the Queen July 18th 1959. This road was formerly the Old Airport Road which ran to the Airport then, before the new road was put in.
that's your history for today -Yvonne
Comment by dawna on 24th April 2010
Yes Walter, you are right...the airport road was renamed Queensway in her honour and was the first road here paved...
Comment by Walter Fricke on 24th April 2010
If I remember my history correct, Queensway was named for this visit as it was the original road to the airport. Now I may be mistaken but I think it was one of the first roads paved here specifically for this visit. Anyone know for sure?