By Dirk Meissner and Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
Some Canadians donned fascinators and sipped tea Saturday morning, shunning sleep to watch the pomp-filled coronation of King Charles III.
In Halifax, about 60 people filed into the residence of Nova Scotia’s lieutenant-governor shortly after 6 a.m. local time, as the new monarch moved through the drizzly streets of London towards Westminster Abbey.
The tables in the visiting area were elegantly set and the guests were served tea, coffee, scones and muffins, with each person greeted personally by Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc and his wife, Patsy LeBlanc, who was wearing a bright red dress for the occasion.
Noelle Lavoie, 20, and her mother Cheryl Lavoie, 48, of Halifax were among those who had won a lottery draw for their seats, and they sported fascinators – the mother’s white and daughter’s pink – purchased online for the occasion.
“My great-grandmother was British and was a big monarchist and she would be thrilled to know I was here today for this,” said Cheryl Lavoie, as the broadcast continued behind her.
“I see ceremony, I see tradition. I picture this going back 1,000 years or more,” she said.
Noelle Lavoie said she’s pleased to see the new king take his place as head of state of his country and the Commonwealth nations and said she appreciated a traditional ceremony.
However, she’s hoping for a modernization of the monarchy, with King Charles making efforts to reach out to younger Canadians who knew little about him.
“I’m one of the younger people here and I’m interested to see how he can appeal to the younger audience and draw them in as well,” she said.
On the other side of the country, it was the dead of night as about 30 royal-watchers gathered at the 144-year-old Union Club in Victoria, where they sipped tea in a room festooned with Canadian flags and Union Jacks.
Donna Otto said she wanted to be part of history, even though it meant being up when most Canadians were slumbering.
Otto said despite King Charles’s age, he has been embracing modern ideas for years, including environmentalism, heritage preservation and gardening.
“He’s done things that haven’t always been acknowledged.”
Otto’s husband, David Spence, said the coronation had him looking to the future.
“It recognizes from where we have come and the possibilities of where we are going,” said Spence, who is president of the Victoria area’s Royal Commonwealth Society. “The energy and wisdom that is part of it all.”
Otto said she also celebrated the coronation by dressing for the occasion, wearing a royal blue dress and fascinator.
“To have a reason to dress up a little bit is really fun to do,” she said. “I think that’s part of it, and of course the tradition of the English fascinator.”
In Halifax, as the King entered the Abbey, the clinking of tea cups and conversations suddenly fell silent, and the gathering focused their attention on the broadcast from London.
As Joie Moore of Dartmouth, N.S., watched the large television screens, she said, “I’m just excited to be here.”
“It’s a once in a lifetime experience. I’m not saying there won’t be another coronation. There may very well be, but I’m 86 and so the chances of my seeing another one are pretty slim,” she said.
She said she feels Charles deserves to be a monarch. “He’s lived his whole life for this job and I’m glad he’s going to have an opportunity,” she said. “And Camilla will be at his side.”
“At the same time that it’s happening, this is the moment in history,” she said. “It’s this moment and that feels right for me.”
Coronation events were planned across the country Saturday, including an official ceremony in Ottawa. Many government buildings were to be illuminated in emerald green through the weekend.
Not all Canadians planned to celebrate, however,
A recent poll by Angus Reid Institute of more than 2,000 Canadians found 41 per cent said they don’t care about the event at all. Of the remaining respondents, 29 per cent said they would probably read a little about the coronation, 20 per cent would watch some of it and nine per cent were really looking forward to it.