Whitehorse Greets Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Tweets and Language Lesson

Whitehorse Greets Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Tweets and Language Lesson

By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

William and Kate
Prince William and his wife Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, leave after touring the MacBride Museum of Yukon History in Whitehorse, Yukon, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)

WHITEHORSE – The tapping and beeping noises out of the old telegraph went on for what felt like ages, but when it was done 90-year-old Doug Bell asked the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to press the button.

Seconds later, Prince William and Kate tweeted a royal welcome message using Second World War telegraph technology to tweet a message from Whitehorse to the world.

Bell has been tapping out coded messages for most of his life, but Wednesday’s royal tweet was a treat, he said.

The legendary Yukon wireless telegraph operator demonstrated his old-school skills during a tour by the royal couple of the MacBride Museum in Whitehorse.

“It was still in me, just like tapping out an alphabet,” said Bell, who admitted to being much slower than he was during his days as a telegraph operator.

The duke and duchess were the first to use the telegraph to tweet technology to sign the museum’s digital guest book. The technology was developed by Canadian company Make IT Solutions.

The museum has a communications exhibit highlighting how the community tried to stay in touch with the outside world from its remote northern location, said Patricia Cunning, the museum’s director.

“We are very interested in doing hands on activities for the public.”

In his day, Bell sent thousands of message from Yukon around the world, Cunning said.

The royals met with giggling children at the museum for a First Nations language lesson. The children sang a welcome song and pronounced the names of wolves, bears and rabbits in First Nations languages.

The sun was out for the royal visit, but it was only was chilly 2 C.

Kate wore a red, knee-length coat and William had on a blue blazer over a sweater.

The entire downtown area of Whitehorse was shut down for the royal visit and thousands of cheering people lined the streets to greet the couple.

William spent several minutes chatting with a First Nations artist who carved a wooden mask that included flowing black hair.

The history of the region played a major role in the royal couple’s visit to Yukon, known as the Land of Gold.

At Carcross, a community ringed by snow-capped mountains about 70 kilometres south of Whitehorse, William and Kate climbed aboard a restored steam locomotive that dates back to the era of the Yukon Gold Rush.

They were also entertained by First Nations dancers wearing colourful regalia and furs, were taken to an alpine meadow high above Carcross, and met those involved in the Single Track to Success program at a snow-covered Montana Mountain. The program has created an extensive network of mountain bike trails and taught young people the skills they needed to build trails.

CP - The Canadian Press