VICTORIA — The life of Queen Elizabeth is being celebrated in British Columbia upon news of her death.
British Columbia Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin issued a statement Thursday expressing sadness at the Queen’s death, saying her long and steadfast reign touched entire generations of Canadian families.
Austin said those generations watched her grow from a teenage princess who trained as a mechanic during the Second World War, to a young queen who charmed crowds on many Canadian tours, and then to a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
“The impact of the reign of Her Majesty cannot be understated; the passage of this Queen represents the end of an era defined by its longevity and her ceaseless service.”
Queen Elizabeth, who was 96, spent 70 years on the throne.
King Charles III, as he will be known, is now Canada's head of state.
Premier John Horgan said in a statement the Queen will be remembered for her full-hearted service to her people.
Each of her seven visits to British Columbia brought residents together in a common purpose, he said.
The premier said the Queen made time for people, especially children, at every opportunity.
“For the tens of thousands of people who came out to see the Queen as she travelled to communities throughout B.C., these moments will be cherished for a lifetime."
Her legacy will live on in the many organizations and charities she supported, including the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, created to protect and conserve forests throughout the Commonwealth, Horgan said.
Shawn Wade, president of the B.C. branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society, said he felt “shock and disbelief” upon hearing news of the Queen’s death.
“It’s like losing someone in the family really. Very sad,” said Wade, who represents over 100 members in the province.
Wade said the Queen has been a constant presence for him.
“She is in our lives from the time we are born …. So, obviously, to lose somebody who has been so permanent is just crazy. You can’t comprehend it and it’s like watching the first atom bomb go off or something,” said Wade.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose cabinet is meeting in Vancouver this week, had been expected to make an announcement in the city on Thursday.
Instead, he made a brief statement, saying the Queen was one of his favourite people.
The Queen served us all with strength and wisdom for 70 years, Trudeau said.
"She was thoughtful, wise, curious, helpful, funny and so much more."
Trudeau cancelled a planned Liberal fundraiser in Surrey Thursday night.
He is scheduled to proceed with a farewell meeting with Horgan in Vancouver on Friday, before returning to Ottawa.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said in a statement that the Queen's "incredible life" had been defined by her "dedication to serving the people," her selflessness and compassion, while Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum issued a statement of condolence calling the Queen a "constant and steadying presence."
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said on Twitter that the Queen "committed to public service when so few women held political power."
"Her leadership as Canada’s longest serving Sovereign will be remembered for generations to come," he said.
In downtown Vancouver, resident Linda Shea said she started crying when she heard the news as she was driving into the city.
“She’ll be missed,” Shea said. “She’s just always been there.
“I just respect her. She’s always been so dignified.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2022.
The Canadian Press