The Queen's Birthday was widely recognized as an important national holiday by the 1860's. Although a few citizens probably disapproved of the additional unpaid day off, this holiday was extremely popular. The Queen's Birthday presented a chance to get outdoors after a long winter and to celebrate the blessings of monarchy. Traditionally, the Queen's Birthday was an appropriate time for the regular military and sedentary militia (non-uniformed civilian men of the local area) to muster, patriotic speeches, parades, and sporting and athletic demonstrations.
Queen Victoria was born May 24, 1819. On June 20, 1837, at the age of 18, she became the Queen of Britain. She ruled from 1837 to 1901. Queen Victoria and Albert were married in 1840. The royal couple had 9 children. The popularity of the Royal Family was reflected by the strong public interest when the Prince of Wales came to open Victoria Bridge in Montreal in 1860, and in the widespread and heartfelt grieving that took place throughout the Empire when the Queen's husband died in December, 1861. In May 1866, the Queen was celebrating her 47th birthday, and the end of the 28th year of her reign.
See us at the Queen's Birthday Celebrations, Sunday May 19, 2013,
New Year's Day 2013 dawned brutally cold, about -12C. Realizing our duty to protect the City, a few of us that survived the festivities of the night before, made our way to City Hall. Once it was determined that there were no Fenians hiding in the snow banks, we joined with the Mayor and City Council and were piped inside by representatives of the Brockville Pipe Band. While thawing out,we received greetings and wishes from all levels of government and a presentation was made to our most senior member.
Ron Wills, uncle of John Karn, turns 90 years old this year. A WW II veteran of many fierce campaigns overseas, Ron is part of our support group and joins us on many celebratory occasions. He was presented with a Temperance Medal by Mayor David Henderson. He swore he "never" touches the stuff and is deserving of this award. If you believe that, I have some swamp land in Florida ..........
Perhaps because of the cold weather, visitor turnout was low, but many thanks to Mark, Brian, Tim, John K, Uncle Ron, and Gord for holding up the Red side. Denis stopped by, SSgt Mike made an appearance on crutches. You should see him march on those crutches. SPEEDY RECOVERY, Mike!
A small group of us made a traditional stop at the Brockville Rifles Levee and enjoyed their hospitality. It was good to see Jeff who threatens that we will see more of him this year.
The word levée (from French, originally fem. pp. of lever "to raise") originated in the Levée du Soleil (Rising of the Sun) of King Louis XIV (1643–1715). It was his custom to receive his male subjects in his bedchamber just after arising, a practice that subsequently spread throughout Europe.
In the 18th century the levée in Great Britain and Ireland became a formal court reception given by the sovereign or his/her representative in the forenoon or early afternoon. In the New World colonies the levée was held by the governor acting on behalf of the monarch. Only men were received at these events.
It was in Canada that the levée became associated with New Year's Day. The fur traders had the tradition of paying their respects to the master of the fort (their government representative) on New Year's Day. This custom was adopted by the governor general and lieutenant governors for their levées.
The first recorded levée in Canada was held on January 1, 1646, in the Chateau St. Louis by Charles Huault de Montmagny, Governor of New France from 1636 to 1648. In addition to wishing a happy new year to the citizens the governor informed guests of significant events in France as well as the state of affairs within the colony. In turn, the settlers were expected to renew their pledges of allegiance to the Crown.
The levée tradition was continued by British colonial governors in Canada and subsequently by both the governor general and lieutenant governors. It continues to the present day.
As mentioned, the levée was historically a male preserve but during World War II levées were attended by female officers of the armed forces. Since then levées have been open to both women and men.
Over the years the levée has become almost solely a Canadian observance.
Today, levées are the receptions (usually, but not necessarily, on New Year's Day) held by the governor general, the lieutenant governors of the provinces, the military and others, to mark the start of another year and to provide an opportunity for the public to pay their respects.
Most levées may be attended by any citizen, including children. Attending the lieutenant governor's levée is an annual ritual for some families.
Today the levée has evolved from the earlier, more boisterous party into a more sedate and informal one. It is an occasion to call upon representatives of the monarch, military and municipal governments and to exchange New Year's greetings and best wishes for the new year, to renew old acquaintances and to meet new friends. It is also an opportunity to reflect upon the events of the past year and to welcome the opportunities of the New Year.
When I woke up this morning and it was –8ºC. I knew we were in for a cold day. Despite the temptation to crawl back into bed, I “soldiered on”, dressed in many layers and headed for the breakfast rendezvous enroute to Morrisburg for their Christmas Parade. A few of us have established a tradition to partake of a hearty hot breakfast in order to ward off the cold. We are not sure that it makes any difference but it gives us an opportunity to query each other as “why are we doing this?” A sanity check if you will. Only a few braved the cold and the early morning drive, but we got our bitching out of the way and headed for the parade.
Yes it had warmed up in Morrisburg, to –6ºC. We got dressed inside the Fire Hall and at 11:00am, 11 redcoats stepped off to lead the parade. 8 rifles and 3 colour party under the command of C Sgt. Bruno, Les from Montreal joined us. We followed the police car through the streets of Morrisburg, passing crowds that WE often outnumbered. After the parade, 4 of us paid a quick visit to the Retirement Home on the route to greet those that could not make it out. The resident ladies, with lustful eyes, wanted to keep John R, but Carl distracted them with a few tunes, and we escaped unharmed.
By evening it had warmed up to –2ºC in Gananoque, and felt so balmy, we were thinking of removing our tunics as not to overheat :-). 12 weather-hardened members, 8 rifles and 4 colour party put on a fiery display to thrill the crowds on King St. C Sgt Bruno and Sgt Lindsay provided great leadership, advancing us by wings down the street. Another traditional well deserved warm up was held at Moroni’s. I heard that all Fenians have been flushed from the premises.
Long underwear was the unseen uniform of the day. The temperature hovered just above zero, the sun peaked through occasionally, but the north wind was deadly. We were mostly protected by the buildings along King St, but at every intersection came the reminder of the cold.
Our turnout was impressive, 19 members on parade. Leadership was delegated to Sgt Lindsay who did a great job of "herding the cats" down King St. SSgt Mike was awarded the day, off as he was enjoying a well deserved vacation in Florida. He was obviously warmer than we were. We will get you. The volleys were good and once again no ducks were harmed in the process. The fifing and drumming was great and kept us in pace. The colour party carried the colours proudly. Mike, you would have been proud of the group! Thanks to Denis and Tom M for shuttling us back and forth. We could not have done it without you.
The spectators were sparse. A comment on the cold, I suspect. The young kids were not warming their ears - they have learned what comes next as we halt in front of them.
Terry was singled out (in photo) for his excellent drill skills and will be promoted to Captain next week :-). Thanks Paul & Laura M for hosting our annual post-parade get-together. I think I have finally warmed up and ready for next Saturday's two parades.
Over the years, The Brockville Infantry Company (1862) has worked closely with Fort Henry. In 2009, in recognition of this association, the Company was presented with the keys to the Fort. If the Fenians attack, we are only a "short drive" away.