Longevity & Legacy Portraits 2019: Empress of Architecture

Queen Victoria – 200th Birthday

May 24, 1819 -2019

For a woman who never set foot in Canada, Queen Victoria’s birthday has been commemorated here in this country as a national holiday for 174 years, usually seen as the proper start to the weekends of summer ahead. Queen Victoria was monarch of Great Britain when we became a Confederation in 1867 – the Dominion of Canada, part of the British Empire.

Nine years later in 1876 under the Royal Titles Act of the United Kingdom, Queen Victoria was officially also titled Empress of India. Well she was never our empress but she obviously impressed us enough to leave her birthday as a long weekend gift to us. Though we dropped the public Dominion naming in 1982, there is a whole lot of history around all this, which is not really the central point of this piece.

What is worth this brief commentary is that the legacy of Queen Victoria still hangs on in Canada in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that her great-great-grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth 11 is the head of state for Canada, not our empress, but still impressive. Both these monarchs hold the record for the longest reigning in the UK, Elizabeth 67 and Victoria 63 years. How’s that for longevity?

However, one of my favourite reminders of Queen Victoria, a lasting impression left on Canada if you will, is the buildings that remain today, part of that period, what one could call Victorian Era Architecture. In my province of Ontario, these distinct buildings stand as a solid tribute to that time. I will share a couple of photos here and while you look at them, think of Queen Victoria as our Empress of Architecture.

In many cases these houses or buildings, look like little birthday cakes, where you could light a candle on the tops of the charming and majestic little turrets. How fitting for the woman whose birthday isn’t celebrated quite the same way in the UK, where close enough to her birthday, there’s another Bank Holiday in late May – but I like Victoria Day.

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