On Thursday, September 8, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at age 96 after a 70-year reign. She visited Halifax four times as Queen, so there are many people in this city with a royal story to tell. To mark her passing, we’re inviting readers to share their memories of QEII. To kick things off, we talked with legendary local politician Gloria McCluskey, the last mayor of Dartmouth and longtime city councillor, about her encounter with the Queen.
McCluskey, 91, looks back fondly on her time with Lizzie. During the 1994 royal visit to Nova Scotia, the Queen and the mayor spent 45 minutes together strolling the waterfront. “That’s a long time for the Queen to give little old me,” McCluskey says in an interview with The Coast, minutes after the news broke of the monarch’s passing. “It was kind of special being able to spend the time with her.” They also sat next to one another to watch a mime show, which the Queen “got a kick out of,” McCluskey says. “She was laughing.”
“I felt very at ease, very comfortable. And she was very elegant,” she recalls, “and smiling all the time.” McCluskey says the two kept the conversation “local,” as she was advised not to ask the sovereign about her family.
“She was a powerful woman, but yet she was the same, had the same feelings as all of us,” McCluskey says, “the same hurt feelings at times, and sadness.”
McCluskey met president Bill Clinton and every G7 leader at the 1995 G7 Summit in Halifax, but for her, the Queen outshines them all. “They're just world leaders. They come and they go but she stayed,” she says. “I’ve met all those people, but nobody like her.”
The Coast asked about the iconic photo where it looks like McClusky is giving Her Majesty the finger. “I was holding my hat!” she laughs. “It was quite windy down there that day.” McClusky adds that “it was certainly no disrespect to the Queen.”
“The whole world has lost a great lady,” McClusky says. “She was a tough lady but she had a soft way about her, a sweet way about her, and that lovely smile. That's how I feel about her.”
If you have a story about the Queen you’d like to share, send an email to email@example.com.