The world held its breath as doctors at Buckingham Palace announced their concern for Queen Elizabeth II’s health on Sept. 8. Once her death was announced hours later, at around 1:30 p.m. that day, the passing of a monarch who had reigned for more than 70 years drew reactions from within the United Kingdom and far beyond — including Canada.

By the end of her 96 years, the late Queen had been witness and high-profile player on the world scene for longer than most Canadians had been alive — a revolving door of changes, triumphs, and controversies across seven decades on the throne. Though she was a symbol of colonialism for many, others viewed her as an embodiment of traditional British values, supporting her long reign.

While those across the Atlantic Ocean waited in an eight-kilometre-long line to express their condolences ahead of the Queen’s state funeral on Sept. 19, crowds in downtown Ottawa lined Elgin and Wellington streets to watch a commemorative procession. The day’s events continued inside Christ Church Cathedral, the procession’s final destination, where an invitation-only ceremony took place and featured speakers such as former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former governor-general Adrienne Clarkson. To conclude Ontario’s provincial period of mourning, a 96-gun salute ensued, with a volley fired every 10 seconds for every year of the Queen’s life.

Two older women hold a British flag together.
On the official day of mourning, under grey skies and drizzling rain, citizens with ties to the late Queen honoured her memory, bundled up in their raincoats and often holding British flags. Diane Meunier and Deborah Davis stood at the very start of the official procession in downtown Ottawa, shared Union Jack in hand, saying that they loved the Queen dearly and believed her to be a great role model for generations. [Photo © Maya Blumenfeld]
A woman in a yellow coat stands behind a flag with an image of a younger Queen Elizabeth emblazoned on it.
Admirers of the longstanding monarch showed their appreciation by displaying special flags and apparel. This onlooker draped a decorated Union Jack, emblazoned with the image of a young Queen Elizabeth II, over the metal barricades of the procession. Highlighting just how lengthy her reign was, the flag celebrates the Queen’s 70-year reign. [Photo © Maya Blumenfeld]
People standing behind metal barricades look towards the parade with gloomy expressions.
Uniformed Canadians stood along the procession route amongst local civilians and others from across the country who came to Ottawa to mark the passing of Elizabeth II. The Queen played a significant role in Canadian and British affairs for many decades, leaving people in those countries with a wide range of feelings about the end of her reign and the future of the monarchy. [Photo © Maya Blumenfeld]
A woman peers over the pile of flowers laid on the steps of the British High Commission building in Ottawa.
Heaps of flower bouquets, letters of condolences, and memorabilia are laid along the steps of the British High Commission on Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. Just inside the building, the public could find a book resting beside a framed photograph of the late monarch, intended to be signed by those seeking to leave their sentiments of solace.
An open book with the page titled, "In memory of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada" and a pen and photograph of the Queen laid on it.
Several venues offered opportunities to reflect on Queen Elizabeth’s reign on the day of her funeral, with City Hall displaying a book of condolences. Not only was there an open signature book, but also a gallery of photos capturing the history of the monarch performing official duties and showing other special moments from her life. [Photo © Maya Blumenfeld]