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7 June 1939: a Royal Visit and The RCR

7 June 1939: a Royal Visit and The RCR

A royal visit generates important quantity of by-products, starting with souvenirs and ending with manifestations of public affection or demonstration of elaborate military pageantry. Our collection holds interesting such testimonials related to the 1939 Royal Tour by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. It was the first time that a living monarch visited Canada and part of the itinerary included an encounter with citizens of Stratford on 6 June, followed by a brief stop in London, Ontario, next day.

Alongside souvenirs, several photographic archives uneveil the excitement behind the scenes or the detailed preparations conducted by The RCR, mandated to provide Guard of Honours in Halifax and London, ON.

Commemorative Medallion

To commemorate the first royal visit to Canada, the Royal Canadian Mint struck a series of three commemorative medallions, identical in design, but different sizes. Designed by Percy Metcalf, the obverse features the conjoined profiles of George VI and Elizabeth; the reverse, designed by Emanuel Hahn, shows the itinerary of the royal couple on a map of Canada.

The commemorative medallion in our collection is a 25 mm tombac medallion, the variety distributed to school children.

DATE: 1939
OBJECT ID: RCRM2008.005.0060i

1939 Royal Visit Souvenirs

Many local souvenirs were created on the occasion of the 1939 royal visit to London and Stratford, Ontario. The three shown here are a clear manifestation of affection for the monarchy, to a point where even a piece of wood used to build the platform where Their Majesties recieved the citzens of Stratford, was worth saving for... marketing purposes.

Purple Ribbon

DATE: ca. 7 June 1937
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0009

Schoefield Pendant

DATE: 1939
DONATED BY: F.B. Schofield
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0010


DATE: 6 June 1939
OBJECT ID: RCRM2020.001.0059


The photographic records of the 1939 Royal Tour offer great insights of the actual encounter with King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. Some of the photographs taken by reporters assigned to the task, depict "C" Company, The RCR preparing to welcome King George VI, in the parade square at Wolseley Barracks. Others  depict the actual ceremony, held in the square facing CNE Station, where the royal train arrived in London, on 7 June 1939. The memorable occasion was immortalized not only in black and white, but also in colourized pictures.

These photographs may have been produced by Perfect Pictures Studios of London, Ontario, however the photographer is unknown. Most likely, they were avaialble for sale at Cairncross and Lawrence Drugstore, located at 216 Dundas Str.

Honour Guard, The RCR

DATE: ca. 7 June 1939
OBJECT ID: RCRM2006.016.0010

Honour Guard, The RCR at CNE Station

DATE: ca. 7 June 1939
OBJECT ID: RCRM2006.015.0001

Royal Arrival, 7 June 1939

DATE: ca. 7 June 1939
OBJECT ID: RCRM2006.032.0008

Colourized Photograph

King George VI Inspecting "C" Company, The RCR

This is a colourized photographs depicting a sequence during the troops' inspection by King George VI upon arrival in London, Ontario, on 7 June 1939.

DATE: 7 June 1939
DONATED BY: Brian Duncan
OBJECT ID: RCRM2017.030.0002

Photo Album

Alongside the official photographs or those published by the media, the 1939 royal stop in London, ON, sparked an interest with private individuals who created their own mementoes. It is the case with this photo album including invaluable images of The RCR preparations to welcome the royal couple in London, ON. The album was put together by a female relative of Pte William Henry Forrest, who was part of the above mentioned military parade. The commanding officer who accompanied George VI, was Major W. J. Home, at the time in charge of "C" Company stationed at Wolseley Barracks.

Below is a selection of images from this photo album. 

DATE: 7 June 1939
OBJECT ID: RCRM2021.001.0004

Documentary Film

The 1939 Royal Tour to Canada was an enormous event, designed to highlight the independence of the Dominion from Britain. It was also a build-up to gain support for the war looming in Europe with an itinerary that included a state visit to the United States (7 to 12 June 1939); the monarchs were accompanied by the Canadian PRime Minister at the time, William MacKenzie King. A detailed overview of this royal tour can be found in the National Film Board archives.

Feature Documentary from NFB