1951 royal visit

The biggest news story in the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was the royal visit of Princess Elizabeth and her husband Philip, then the Duke of Edinburgh. The royal couple were available for viewing in two locations in Toronto.

The viewing spot in the west end was the CNE Grandstand, where 36,000 people could watch the royal couple go around the track in their motorcade:

In the east end, the royals were to be driven through Riverdale Park. The royal car would go across on Gerrard, up Broadview Avenue, down Royal Drive, and into Riverdale Park:

Within Riverdale Park, the royal route looked like this:

The privilege of viewing the royals was provided to school pupils. They were organized into sections, based on what school they attended.

The layout in Riverdale Park was planned to look much as it did during King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s royal visit in 1939. 27,000 school pupils would view them there.

There is a National Film Board film of the 1951 royal visit.

To get to Riverdale Park, the royals entered on the appropriately named Royal Drive, which has an interesting history. It was originally named Winchester Drive, and extended from the Don River to Danforth Avenue. It was renamed in 1940 to honour the King and Queen’s 1939 visit. When the Don Valley Parkway was constructed, most of Royal Drive became a northbound on-ramp from Danforth Avenue.

This City of Toronto atlas from the late 1950s shows the original route of Royal Drive and the planned route of the on-ramp:

Here’s the view from Google Maps today:

There’s a path that runs north from the running track into the area where Royal Drive used to be, but it doesn’t follow the route of the old road. Viaduct Park, north of the on-ramp, is now the City Adult Learning Centre.

The entrance to the on-ramp still bears the Royal Drive name. Here’s a photo of it from Google Street View:

I’m thinking that there aren’t too many on-ramps that have a street name!

This 2012 blog entry provides more information on Royal Drive, including some old photos of the area.

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