Canadian Music Royalty Honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Story: Don Graham
Roy Thompson Hall in Toronto, Ontario, was the scene of a unique gathering on Monday June 18th, 2012.
Commemorative medals were presented to distinguished Ontario residents who have already been invested with the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario. All living Order of Canada and Order of Ontario recipients were invited. It is unusual for these recipients to come together in one place said The Honourable Ontario Lt. Governor David Onley.
Lt. Governor Onley, Governor General David Johnson and other prominent Canadians presented the prestigious awards. CBC Anchor Peter Mansbridge hosted the gala and also received a medal.
Susan Aglukark, Molly Johnson, Ben Heppner and Gordon Lightfoot took the stage at Roy Thomson Hall Monday evening. The four musicians, all members of the Order of Canada, performed at a presentation of Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medals to more than 600 people. The special medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne.
Orillia’s Lightfoot was one of several who gave Lt. Governor Onley the idea for the gala. Lt. Governor Onley said he put the event together hastily, after presenting the first 25 Diamond Jubilee Medals on Feb. 6, at a gathering that brought together a remarkable group of people, including Gordon Lightfoot and actor Gorden Pinsent.
Lt. Governor Onley commented “So many people felt it in the room. It was a totally unique experience; these 25 people. It was almost an emotional experience and people were very touched by it. At the end of the day it was decided this had to be done on a larger scale.”
Ordinarily the medals would be mailed out or there would be dozens of small receptions. Roy Thomson Hall turned out to be available and then the ceremony began to fall into place.
“The next thing that happened was Gordon Lightfoot simply said, “I'll sing.” As soon as that happened, it came together in very rapid order, we knew we had something,” Lt. Governor Onley remarked.
Among the recipients from the music industry were Paul Anka, Bruce Cockburn, Tommy Hunter, Geddy Lee and the pride of Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) Ontario, Bobby Curtola.
We caught up with Curtola, Canada’s first teen idol and his beautiful partner Karen, at his downtown hotel the following morning. “What an honour,” he said as he showed us his shining new medal. “To be included in such a distinguished group of fellow Canadians and some old friends like Tommy (Hunter) and Gordon ( Lightfoot) after all these years is very humbling and gratifying. I’m so proud to be a Canadian and so very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given.”
So congratulations to all the recipients of the medals, Her Majesty the Queen of England for 60 years on the throne and to performers like Bobby Curtola who have been performing for 50 of those 60 years.