IROQUOIS — The 60th Anniversary of the Opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway will be celebrated here, Saturday June 29 — a chance for people who lived through the waterway’s development and debut to share their memories.
A highlight is the scheduled re-enactment of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 1959 visit to Iroquois, a village utterly transformed and relocated by the super project. The royal pretenders will tour the village in a convertible and visit the Iroquois Shopping Plaza at 2 p.m. as their real life versions did all those years ago.
The affair is presented by the Iroquois Waterfront Committee and the South Dundas Historical Society with the cooperation of the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce.
To set the stage, Ross Video will show a video of the opening of the Seaway by Her Majesty and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in Montreal, ceremonies that preceded the Queen and Prince’s arrival by limousine in Iroquois.
Constructed by Ontario’s Hydro Electric Power Commission as a replacement for the village’s original downtown core lost to the Seaway, the Iroquois Plaza was one of the first shopping centres between Kingston and Montreal.
During the Queen’s original stroll at the newly built mall, she ascended the platform and met local dignitaries. She was then presented flowers and a boxed set of Caldwell towels by two little girls before leaving and heading to the brand new Iroquois locks to board her yacht, Britannia. Iroquois Waterfront Committee member Jim Millard confirms those girls – now women — will be in attendance for the festivities to share their memories of the day.
A special recounting of the day will begin 2:15 p.m. at the Iroquois Beach, located south of the street named in the Queen’s honour — Elizabeth Drive.
The beach gathering will be similar in format to one held July 1st last year to mark the 60th anniversary of the actual flooding of the “old village.” A number of local people including Bonnie Adair, C.F. “Mike” McInnis, Lorne Strader and others have been lined up to speak about their memories of the Queen’s visit. Anyone in the audience who was present for the 1959 event is welcome share their memories over a PA system, and video of the occasion will be taken for posterity. The Historical Society will also display photos from the historic day.
Organizers say the beach canteen will be open for snacks and refreshments; everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair and set up in the shade under the picnic canopy nearest the canteen.