Through a royalist lens: New Brunswick, royal tourists, and the anglophone press, 1901-1959
University of New Brunswick
Over a nearly-sixty-year period, three generations of the Canadian royal family visited New Brunswick, sometimes at important moments in the province’s history. Each of these tours provided an opportunity for local leaders and boosters in Saint John, Fredericton, and Moncton to present a carefully staged version of their communities to an assortment of royal tourists, all the while supported in their work by the local anglophone press. These royal itineraries, supervised by Ottawa but largely of local design, varied only slightly in many respects, and yet by examining a variety of elements of these tours, the historian can learn a great deal about the times in which they took place, specifically with respect to the status of the military in civil society, the role of women, the variety of competing identities, the reinforcement of tradition, and various local issues which emerged during the planning and execution of the visits. Drawing upon coverage of these tours which appeared in the anglophone press, this dissertation contributes to a greater understanding of New Brunswick identities, specifically how the anglophone majority, and especially its middle class, perceived the province during the first six decades of the twentieth century, a period of important constitutional and cultural evolution. It fills gaps in our historical understanding of the period, while also building on the work which has been carried out on topics such as Britishness and the Loyalist Myth. Specifically, it adds to an ongoing debate about imperialism and Canada’s place in the British World after the Great War. Most importantly, this study adds another dimension to the expanding field of commemoration, and demonstrates the value of ceremonial occasions as markers of identity. The people of New Brunswick gathered by the thousands in the streets and along railroad sidings to catch glimpses of kings and princesses on every occasion between 1901 and 1959. The press suggested that these royal tourists captured the hearts and imaginations of the people who came out to cheer them. While spectators may have thought they were getting to know these royal guests, in fact they were learning far more about themselves.