Festive Days in Vancouver

The Royal Visit in 1967

by Pastor Immanuel Rasmussen, 1967

We have been paid a visit by Their Royal Highnesses, Princess Margrethe of Denmark and Prince Henrik. The occasion was that East Asiatic Company was about to open a paper mill on Vancouver Island where the company owns a large amount of forest. A special company, Tahsis, has been formed with the Danish consul, J. Vibe Christensen as president; moreover, a whole town, Gold River, has been built for those employed by the mill. In a project as large as this there is of course also American capital, but the initiative is Danish and so is a large part of the capital. It is an enterprise of about sixty million dollars, which in Danish currency would be hundreds of millions of crowns. The project was now ready, and East Asiatic Company had invited Princess Margrethe to open the mill. The events received mention in the press that well could make us proud of being Danes.

Their Royal Highnesses came out here from eastern Canada; they landed in British Columbia’s capital, Victoria, on Vancouver Island on Monday September 25th. The first day they were guests of British Columbia’s lieutenant governor and participated in, among other things, a reception at Victoria’s City Hall to which many of the Danes that come to our services in Victoria were invited. You have to have lived for some years among emigrants to appreciate the importance of such a day to the life of an old emigrant. Wednesday morning the royals, their entourage, a numerous representation of great industrialists, representatives of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bøgh Andersen, and more arrived at Tahsis. Here you could see the princess, in hard hat like the others, inspect the large enterprise. Later the princess received a present from East Asiatic Company, a talking stick, a fine Indian artifact, one of the very finest from British Columbia.

Friday everybody returned to Vancouver. In the evening a reception was held at Hotel Vancouver with 500 guests; the newspapers described the reception as one of the most distinguished social events ever here. Personally I had an interesting experience in the afternoon: I arrived home and was asked to go across the street to the church as two people from Copenhagen would like to see me; it turned out to be Vice-Admiral Vedel and his wife. Their daughter had been married here by Pastor Kronborg in 1954, and now they wanted to see the church. The event was typical of those days when so many great Danes were in Vancouver.

Then on Saturday September 30th came the visit to the Danish Church. There were many people and the event occupied the minds of everybody. All the Danish organisations in Vancouver were represented; everybody agreed that our Danish church was the most beautiful frame around such a day; one feels how almost everybody over here cherishes the church at the bottom of their hearts.

Once the royal guests were inside, the folk dancers, who had waited outside under the beech trees, carried in all the flags representing the many Danish organisations here while our fine choir sang Nu sagtelig skrid vor højtidsdag (O day full of grace). We sang a hymn, there was a reading, and before the sermon the choir sang a verse by Pastor Clemens Sørensen. After the Blessing, the president of the Central Committee, Poul B. Christensen, addressed the princess on behalf of his compatriots.

Then Princess Margrethe delighted us all by bringing greetings from mom and dad. The reaction to her speech was beyond description; and so were the old people in the front pews who have been here since before the War. When the princess greeted each of them they had the highlight of their lives. They still haven’t come down to earth.

On the way out, Mrs. Poulsen, our oldest emigrant, presented a bouquet of flowers and said a few words to the princess. Who was most touched is hard to say. It will be long before the Danes here forget that day. She was the loveliest princess in the whole world.

Afterwards the princess visited Dania Home, and the old people there were completely taken by the princess’s kindness to them. Later in the day the princess returned to Denmark after some festive days over here.