Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New London's Royal Welcome to Wee Willie The Prince of "Wails"

With the expected visit to PEI of Prince William and his bride-to-be Kate Middleton, we remember pictures of the summer he was born. It was on July 3, 1982 that New London welcomed Wee Willie The Prince of "Wails" in fine style with a commercial note that Transportation Provided by Village Pottery. He had been born two weeks before so his newsworthy arrival was still a current topic in both London and New London.

We marked the birth of Prince William in a unique way that year. With a proper British pram as the Village Pottery float in a local parade we began the 'up hill and down dale' hike pushing the heavy pram through the rolling hills of New London through the mile-long rural parade route.

It was the Saturday of the Canada Day weekend and the parade included fire trucks and a convertible car, commercial entries and floats with dignitaries and people dressed up in period costume. The parade marshal was our beloved postmistress, Kitty Cotton who had operated a general store in the Village Pottery building prior to the shop opening in 1973.

The four of us made it to the end of the route okay although Daphne had just given birth to a real baby three weeks before. Our summer helper, Guy LeBlanc was the official standard bearer marching ahead of us announcing the arrival of the royal pram with a sign, wearing a police hat of uncertain origin.

The baby in the pram was not our newborn, Andrew but our three year old Rob, who - wise beyond his years - was uncertain what he was doing playing a baby in a pram but went along with the venture willingly. We tried to gather what British effects we could and a supply of pristine Canadian red ensigns located at the family cottage added colour along with loads of lupins that grew near our pottery shop.

New London has a share of British history with the initial colony being located near the shore led by Robert Clark, an English Quaker merchant who arrived in 1773 with grand plans of building a settlement rivaling his native London. Patterson, the Governor of the day described Clark vision as
“hoped to make New London a place for the recovering of sinners.”

By 1800 it was clear that Clark's commercial visions would not be realized and the estate had been sold and the houses torn down or moved; the dream of a Quaker colony on St John’s Island was at an end. Yet today the family names of the district include those of the early colonists who can trace their roots back to the original group of settlers generations ago.

It was during the reign of George III and Queen Charlotte, that New London began and it was fitting to welcome their great-great-great-great-great-great grandson into the world in 1982 as it is fitting to welcome he and his bride in 2011.

So from those of us in New London - a hearty welcome to Prince Edward Island - now that you are not so wee.

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