Photo: See the full 25-page spread of photos from Queen Elizabeth II’s 1951 royal visit to Canada.
In 1952, a 25 year old princess named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary assumed the throne as Queen Elizabeth II. Today, she surpassed the 23,226 day reign of her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
“Inevitably a long life can pass by many milestones – my own is no exception – but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness,” the Queen said.
Some of those milestones—Elizabeth has overseen 11 Canadian prime ministers—will be recited in newspapers and passed down in history textbooks. Others, like the one that happened on October 4, 1957, when she conferred the title of “Royal” on the Canadian Geographical Society, rests as a quiet reminder of her impact on one particular non-profit.
The name change was announced in the November 1957 issue of the Canadian Geographical Journal (as Canadian Geographic was then known) with pride: “This is a mark of appreciation prefixed to the title of those organizations selected by Her Majesty that are deemed worthy to receive such an honour.” The next month the magazine ran 25 pages of photos and text on the queen’s Royal visit to Canada.
“The Royal prefix granted by The Queen was and remains a special distinction for the Society and support for its important mission.” said John Geiger, CEO of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society. “It enhances the status and prestige of the Society. We have a long-standing connection with the Sovereign, the Royal Family, and the Crown’s representatives in Canada.”
Edward Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) was a Fellow of the Society. Successive governors general have served as Patron, beginning with Lord Willingdon through to David Johnston, with Governor General Vincent Massey establishing the Society’s Massey Medal.