Don’t be fooled: many a Canadian monarchical name predates the incumbent. The reigns of other queens, some of them also named Elizabeth, have been honoured in the local geography going back to the summer of 1576, when Martin Frobisher sailed a flotilla in search of a Northwest Passage in what’s now the Davis Strait. He thought the shore he was looking at was Labrador when, in fact, it was the southern edge of Baffin Island: no matter, he named it Queen Elizabeth Foreland. Elizabeth I is also commemorated in British Columbia’s Interior, with a peak (Mount Queen Bess) and in ice (Queen Bess Glacier).
Toronto’s central Queen Street was named Lot Street before 1837, when it was renamed to honour Queen Victoria. While Queen Elizabeth II has now reigned six years longer than her great-great-grandmother, it’s worth noting that Victoria still reigns supreme when it comes to the Canadian map: no individual is honoured in name more than her.
Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Park is named for the Queen Mother and was dedicated by her on her 1939 state visit to Canada with King George VI. The same goes for Ontario’s Queen Elizabeth Way, which she opened on that same visit. Oddly, Ontario’s 400-series highways, of which the QEW is one, are still officially designated as the King’s Highway.
While no new grand naming gestures are in the cards for this year’s Jubilee, a notable gardening effort is underway, coordinated by Queen Elizabeth’s provincial and territorial vice-regal representatives. The Platinum Jubilee Gardens project involves all 13 provinces and territories, each developing a garden of their own, designed for local climates and conditions, to be unveiled over the course of the summer. As part of the effort, all 13 vice-regal offices have received tobacco seeds from the Chapel Royal at the University of Toronto’s Massey College. In 2017, the Chapel Royal was officially designated Gi-Chi-Twaa Gimaa Kwe Mississauga Anishinaabek Aname Amik, or the Queen’s Anishinaabek Sacred Place. The inclusion of this tobacco in each Jubilee garden represents the enduring relationship between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples.
On the grounds at Government House in Regina, the Jubilee Garden is a circle, with benches and signage with a particular focus on Indigenous reconciliation, according to Heather Salloum, executive director and private secretary in the office of Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant-Governor Russ Mirasty. A member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous lieutenant-governor, Mirasty was the first of Queen Elizabeth’s vice-regal representatives to deliver her greetings in Woodland Cree at his formal installation ceremony in 2019. Enclosed by a hedge of pasture sage, Saskatchewan’s Jubilee Garden plantings in recognition of Her Majesty’s 70-year reign include Labrador tea, prairie smoke, common yarrow, western silvery aster and, of course, Queen Elizabeth roses.