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Queen’s funeral: How Canada is marking the day

As the Commonwealth grieves the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Canada marked her state funeral with a national day of mourning and commemorations in the capital, where she was remembered for her ability to connect with people, her wit, kindness, and for her 70 years of service.

A holiday for some, the sombre day was marked in various ways across the country.

In Ottawa, a national commemoration ceremony was held at the Christ Church Cathedral, where Queen Elizabeth was eulogized by former prime minister Brian Mulroney and former governor general Adrienne Clarkson. Both had met Queen Elizabeth II on multiple occasions, and in their addresses, offered their memories of moments of levity from those encounters, to a rapt audience.

“As one who had the privilege of a significant relationship with Her Majesty for many years, I can simply say this: She was extremely intelligent. A woman of impeccable judgment. Resolute, selfless, witty, very witty, and kind,” Mulroney said, going on to say that the successes of Canada that are deeply admired worldwide, are in part a product of the system of government chosen by its founders. 

“Today our system might appear anachronistic to some. I understand that, but to others… the role of the monarchy, and in particular, the irreplaceable role played by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for 70 years was absolutely indispensable in our country’s hugely impressive achievements and contributions to peace and prosperity and stability, at home and around the world,” said the former prime minister.

Clarkson reflected on the major points in Canada’s history that the Queen was present for, and got a laugh from the crowd when she spoke about the queen’s declaration that she would never abdicate.

“‘It is not in our tradition. Although I suppose if I became completely ga-ga, one would have to do something,'” Clarkson recalled the Queen saying. “But she held the course to the end. Focused, dutiful, calm, the essence of equanimity.”

In his tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, Algonquin spiritual adviser and English Poet Laureate of Ottawa Albert Dumont made reference to “the horrors committed against Indigenous peoples of British colonized lands by past monarchs,” while also referencing “her ability to emotionally connect with the common people, her desire to make the world cleaner and safer.”

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney speaks from the pulpit during commemorative ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth at Christ Church Cathedral, in Ottawa, Monday, Sept.19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

As attendees—including members of Parliament, dignitaries, and members of the diplomatic corps, as well as representatives of various faith communities and charities with whom Queen Elizabeth II had a close connection—began filing in to the cathedral, ‘Amazing Grace’ was performed by The Appleby College String Ensemble.


Music was a prominent element throughout the service—which had a mix of religious and non-religious elements—including hymns and songs, a tribute video montage featuring an original piece composed by the Canadian Armed Forces for the occasion, and musical interludes by Canadian artists.

Canadian talents Tomson Highway and Patricia Cano performed ‘Thank You For The Love You Gave’ in English, French and Cree; Ginette Reno performed ‘Ceux qui s’en vont’; and Rufus Wainwright performed his cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’.

Dean of Christ Church Cathedral Ottawa Reverend Elizabeth J. Bretzlaff, and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Reverend Shane A. D. Parker, officiated at the service, and prayers were read by Canadian Secretary to the King Donald Booth and Canadian Armed Forces Chaplain General Brig.-Gen. Guy Belisle.

Care was taken to display a series of visual elements in relation to Her Majesty inside the cathedral, including a framed official portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, her personal Canadian flag folded, and two wreaths, one on behalf of Canadian people and the other on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Flower arrangements and bouquets were also placed throughout the church and on the tables holding the books of condolences. The flowers included Bells of Ireland, thistles for Scotland, leek for Wales, English roses, and maple leaves for Canada.

After a moment of silence in remembrance of Queen Elizabeth II, a reciting of the royal anthem as well as the national anthem, the ceremony ended with a tolling of the church bells.


The historic occasion brought hundreds of Canada’s most prominent politicians and members of civil society together to pay tribute to the longest-reigning Monarch.

Attendance at the service was invitation-only, with some 600 guests filling the historically significant space.

Federal cabinet ministers including Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez attended the ceremony, as did Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh.

Chief Justice Richard Wagner, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre, former astronaut Roberta Bondar, and former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney were also among those present.

“It was important for us as Canadians… to remember her, and to thank her,” said Rodriguez on his way in to the cathedral when asked about Canada deciding to hold its own events on Monday. “There’s a lot of people from across the country that wanted to pay their respects, rightly so I would say, so it’s an important moment.” 

Gen. Eyre reflected on Queen Elizabeth II being the first royal female veteran.

“She was an example, an example to live up to, an example of service before self, an example of determination, an example of humility. Characteristics that we can all aspire to,” he said ahead of the ceremony. 

The cathedral — a designated heritage property — is where numerous state funeral services have been held, and is where a commemorative ceremony was held for Prince Philip in 2021, and for The Queen Mother in 2002. Queen Elizabeth II also attended worship at the cathedral in 1957 and 1967.


The ceremony followed a memorial parade that began just as events in London were wrapping up.

In Ottawa, despite the rainy fall weather, hundreds gathered along the parade route and in front of screens set up at the Garden of the Provinces and Territories, and in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street, to take in the historic occasion.

“It’s a historic occasion so I took Rebecca out of school and we decided to come down and pay tribute to the Queen,” said Virginia Schweitzer, who brought her daughter with her to watch along the parade route. 

“It’s part of history, and it’s important to mark the occasion,” said onlooker Julie Brennan. “The Queen has always been a big part of our lives.” 

Moving through the downtown core, the procession began at the Cartier Square Drill Hall, a military training facility next to Ottawa City Hall along the Rideau Canal. Travelling past the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument and the National War Memorial on Elgin Street, it turned onto Wellington Street before arriving at the Christ Church Cathedral.

Her Majesty’s Personal Canadian Flag, wrapped in plastic to protect it from the rain, is carried by a member of the guard of honour as the Memorial Parade for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth arrives at the Christ Church Cathedral for the National Commemorative Ceremony in Ottawa, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The parade included two RCMP Musical Ride detachments on horseback at the front and rear of the procession, a 100-person military service guard of honour comprised of navy, army, air force and special forces members, the Canadian Armed Forces Central Band, as well as representatives from each of the 16 military regiments of Her Majesty.

A member of the National Sentry Program carried Her Majesty’s personal Canadian flag.

A 96-gun salute — one round for every year of Queen Elizabeth II’s life — was conducted during the parade from a location west of the downtown core.


While there were plans for a Second World War aircraft flyover during the parade and a post-ceremony Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 flypast in the “missing person formation,” the Department of National Defence had to cancel them due to “inclement weather.”

Canadian flags that have been flying at half-mast on all federal buildings and establishments in Canada and abroad, including the Peace Tower, are expected to be raised at sunset on Monday, marking the end of Canada’s official period of mourning.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon were not present in the capital, as they travelled to London to represent Canada, alongside more than a dozen prominent Canadians, at the state funeral.

As attention turns to a new era under King Charles III, Trudeau announced Monday that in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s lifelong commitment to duty and service, Canada will be donating $20 million to the Queen Elizabeth Scholars (QES) program, which provides funding for university exchange projects that give Canadian students the opportunity to study abroad.

“Because she was a sovereign who had seen all of life’s happiness and hardships, we trusted her messages of hope — that tomorrow can and will be better. As we say goodbye, we look to tomorrow with that same hope. We look to time for that same healing. There is no doubt that hard work lies ahead for all of us, but it is the hard things that make a difference in life,” said Simon in a statement issued on Monday. 

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