The front page of Inukshuk, which later became Nunatsiaq News, from April 30, 1975. (Image courtesy of Library and Archives Canada)

Yesterday’s News: When Prince Charles was named an Honorary Toonik

A weekly look through some of Nunatsiaq News’ front pages from the past 50 years

By Nunatsiaq News

As he rides in his horse-drawn carriage to his coronation today, will King Charles take a moment to remember when he received another honour — slightly less prestigious — in Nunavut?

The day he was named an Honorary Toonik at the Toonik Tyme festival.

It was late April 1975.

Iqaluit was still known as Frobisher Bay, Nunavut was still just the eastern flank of the Northwest Territories, and Nunatsiaq News was still a newsletter called Inukshuk, published in Iqaluit.

As Nunatsiaq News celebrates its 50th anniversary, each week we are taking readers on a walk through the past half-century by showcasing some of our front pages from years gone by.

Charles was still a 26-year-old jug-eared prince with big dreams when he stopped in 1975 for two days in Frobisher Bay during a visit to Canada.

“Prince Charles swept through Frobisher Bay last Wednesday and Thursday [April 23 and 24] in a tour that left the public disappointed in its brevity, but pleased with the good humour of the Prince himself,” Gilda Mekler reported for the Inukshuk newsletter.

Then as now, royal visits were big news. Five hundred locals waited for Charles at the airport, including young cadets, and after nearly two dozen reporters and camera operators from the south disembarked from the Nordair jet, the anticipation kept building.

“Then finally, Prince Charles arrived,” the story reads.

“He stepped off the plane, looking impeccably British and royal (and cold) in a light topcoat and was set by Commissioner [Stuart Milton] Hodgson, [Baffin South MLA] Bryan Pearson, [RCMP officer] Bob Pilot and other local dignitaries and their wives.”

Later describing his impression as he flew in, Charles said: “It was amazing … there was absolutely nothing there.”

The arrival of the Prince of Wales coincided with the annual Toonik Tyme celebrations and Charles was named an Honorary Toonik, the same honour given former prime minister John Diefenbaker, governor general Roland Michener and a few other dignitaries who visited back in the day.

There’s a video on YouTube that shows Prince Charles riding a snowmobile during his visit to Frobisher Bay.

He visited Pangnirtung too, and Reader’s Digest reports Charles also went to Resolute Bay where he went diving with Joseph MacInnis, who later would become one of the first to reach the site of the Titanic wreckage.

Meanwhile, it looks like Toonik Tyme was a success that year. Joannie Ikidluaq shaved 40 minutes off the old record to win the Lake Harbour Race, and later everyone enjoyed some barbecued caribou.

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Steve Lenaghan on

    I remember that day, he was staying in the 8 story and tripped on that big steel plate in the hall outside the security office
    We wanted to put up a plaque

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