Gabriolan met King George VI in 1939 Royal Visit

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, October 4 2016

It was in September 1939 that Gabriolan Pat Allen, now 94, went down to Victoria to be part of King George VI’s visit to British Columbia. He was 17 at the time. Allen and his two brothers had the honour of being part of the 100 man Guard of Honour from the Canadian Scottish Regiment. A few from each company on Vancouver Island were picked out to help with the Royal Tour of 1939.

“It was very nice meeting the old boy. He was elegant and distinguished. It was a real thrill and quite a historic moment for Victoria and now his great grandson has come. We wore busbys made of ostrich feathers. He inspected us and said, “By Jove lads, you look very good indeed.”

“It was down by Elgin Point. I can see us standing there and after that we had to rush like crazy, change our uniform and then line the streets to hold back the crowds. The King must have thought us a tremendous army. We saw a lot of them from lining the streets. It was very moving. For a 17 year old it was quite an experience.”

Allen tried to contact various government officials and media outlets to see if he could meet the Royal Family on their current tour of British Columbia without any luck.

“I’ve been following it and I’ve wanted so much to go down and meet the Prince. I said I just wanted to tell the Prince I was a Guard of Honour for his great grandfather.”

Allen has lived on Gabriola for 30 years and retired here after working in Port Eliza with Frank Beban Logging. He served in the Canadian Navy during the war on the HMCS Battleford in an Atlantic convoy.

Allen himself has followed the current Royal visit closely. He says it’s because of his own background. His grandfather came from Scotland and his father was from England. 

“Of course it’s so much more modern now, it wasn’t with the TV and cameras then. For a young lady, I think [Kate] is doing an excellent job, especially in this day and age.”

If he’d had the chance to meet the Royal Family, Allen says he would have encouraged them to enjoy their stay in beautiful British Columbia. “I hope they enjoy their visit and I know the citizens are making them very welcome. I would have loved the chance to meet them.”

When asked how many from his regiment might still be alive, Allen says, “I don’t imagine there’s too many of us left. I assume I’m one of the most fortunate ones that’s still around.” 

Allen’s first wife who he married in 1943 passed away from Alzheimer’s and his second wife passed away from cancer. “They were beautiful ladies.” Allen was recently visiting his daughter’s 150 acre farm in Quesnel, British Columbia. “I ran the bulldozer to make her a riding ring.” 

At 94, Allen attributes his long life to keeping in shape. He says he intends to live to 111 years and be shot by a jealous husband.