Minden Hills serves a tea fit for the Queen
By Sue Tiffin
The 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria was celebrated at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre on May 18 with a morning and afternoon tea inside and outside of the Bowron Log House. The event brought both full-time residents and out-of-town visitors to the cultural centre, some wearing fascinators, to sip tea, eat sandwiches and cookies and share in some peace on the busy holiday weekend.
The event also marked the first time in quite a while that the Haliburton Highlanders Pipes and Drums band played on the grounds, performing authentic music of the Victorian era.
“Jim [Thomson] specifically chose a series of Victorian-themed tunes to play, and he piped solo for over eight minutes, which is a long time on the pipes, to work through those tunes,” said Emily Stonehouse, supervisor, Minden Hills Cultural Centre.
Thomson was the pipe major for the Toronto Scottish Regiment, and recalled his experiences piping for the Queen Mother, who was associated with the regiment as Colonel-in-Chief, when she visited Canada in the 1980s.
“We piped her on and off the plane and actually, speaking of tea parties, she flew out to Ottawa on one of these occasions and we had to go there and pipe as she came off the plane, and she went and had tea with [Prime Minister] Brian Mulroney,” Thomson told the Times.
At one point, while the Queen Mother was staying in Forest Hill, in Toronto, Thomson’s music was the first thing she heard in the morning.
“I had to play outside her bedroom every morning to wake her up,” he said. “That’s a tradition in the Royal Family, they always have their own piper, that’s one of the jobs that you have to do.”
Thomson was invited to the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday celebration at Clarence House in London, at a time when security was quite heightened because of threats from the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
“It was quite something,” he said.
Victoria Day weekend, named for Queen Victoria, took place throughout most of Canada from May 18 to 20 this year.