PRINCE ED­WARD IS­LAND

(For Queen Vic­to­ria’s fa­ther)

Canada's History - - ROOTS -

Canada’s small­est prov­ince was named for Prince Ed­ward, the Duke of Kent, the fourth son of King Ge­orge III. Ed­ward was the first mem­ber of the royal fam­ily to live in Canada for an ex­tended pe­riod of time, re­sid­ing in Hal­i­fax and Que­bec City dur­ing the 1790s in a mil­i­tary ca­pac­ity and even­tu­ally be­com­ing com­man­der-in-chief of the Bri­tish North Amer­i­can forces.

Dur­ing his time in Canada, Prince Ed­ward en­deav­oured to im­prove mil­i­tary stan­dards. He com­mis­sioned a town clock and pa­rade grounds in Hal­i­fax and an im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem for the city’s for­ti­fied area.

His ex­ten­sive trav­els set prece­dents for fu­ture royal tours, and he was the first to de­scribe both English and French speak­ers as “Cana­di­ans.” He is re­ported to have dis­persed a 1792 riot in Charles­bourg, Lower Canada, with the words, “Part then in peace; I urge you to una­nim­ity and con­cord. Let me hear no more of the odi­ous dis­tinc­tion of French and English. You are all his Bri­tan­nic Majesty’s Cana­dian sub­jects.”

Prince Ed­ward was un­mar­ried dur­ing his time in Canada, but he lived with his long-time mistress, Julie de Saint-Lau­rent. In Bri­tain he could not ap­pear in so­ci­ety with Saint-Lau­rent, but the Bri­tish North Amer­i­can elite in­vited the cou­ple into their homes, and they be­came close friends with John Graves and El­iz­a­beth Sim­coe. There are nu­mer­ous Cana­dian fam­i­lies that claim to be de­scended from an il­le­git­i­mate child born to the cou­ple dur­ing their time in Bri­tish North Amer­ica, but there is no ev­i­dence that they started a fam­ily in Canada.

After his re­turn to Bri­tain, Prince Ed­ward faced pres­sure to marry a princess and to fa­ther le­git­i­mate heirs. Hop­ing Par­lia­ment would pay his debts if he mar­ried a suit­able bride, he re­luc­tantly ended his re­la­tion­ship with Saint-Lau­rent and mar­ried Princess Vic­toire of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widow with two chil­dren, in 1818. Prince Ed­ward died of pneu­mo­nia just nine months after the birth of the fu­ture Queen Vic­to­ria in 1819.

Although Prince Ed­ward never ac­tu­ally vis­ited his name­sake is­land, its res­i­dents were no doubt grate­ful for the for­ti­fi­ca­tions he or­dered for Charlottetown to pro­tect the city from raids by sea — a fre­quent prob­lem dur­ing the set­tle­ment’s early his­tory.

On­tario’s Prince Ed­ward County is also named after the Duke of Kent, as are many other places through­out Canada.

Prince Ed­ward, Duke of Kent.

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