Old Newspaper Stories

Royal Visit of 1954

When thinking of Royal Visits to Windsor, the Royal Visits of 1939, 1951 & 1984 spring to mind. While the English Royal family has made several visits to our fair city over the years, one that’s little known, and largely forgotten, is the Royal Visit of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassi I, Emperor of Ethiopia, who spent the night in Windsor, during a North American visit in 1954.

In June, 1954, the Emperor of Ethiopia was on a two month long tour a North America. During this tour, he came to Canada, visiting Ottawa, then Montreal, on to Quebec City, before flying to Windsor, where he spent the night before crossing the Bridge to Detroit, and back to the United States, where from Detroit, he went to Chicago, then to Minneapolis.

The royal party had 32 members, and they filled the entire eighth floor of the Prince Edward hotel during their stay. The stop over in Windsor, was really an official stop per the Government of Canada, who planned for the stop, and were hoping that the Windsor stop would be a low key affair. However Mayor Reaume, was never one to let a chance to be in the spotlight pass him by.

En route to the Prince Edward the mayor suggested that the Emperor might like to stop and pay his respects at the Cenotaph, which was then at the intersection of Ouellette & Gilles. Selassie agreed that he would very much like to see it, and the motorcade made an unscheduled stop, where Emperor Selassie got out of the car and spent several moments in silent reflection at the base of the memorial.

They arrived downtown where a large crowd was waiting to see the Emperor. In 1954, which was Windsor’s centennial year, a large building shaped like a birthday cake was erected on Ouellette avenue, Mayor Reaume, again, operating on his own schedule asked the Emperor if he wanted to go see it, again Selassie agreed, and the two men walked down the middle of Ouellette avenue to the Birthday cake and paid it a visit, before returning to the hotel.

The following morning the party ate in their suites, and headed to the Ambassador Bridge for a military display for the Emperor, where he was handed over to the Detroit party. From there he went to a reception at Detroit City Hall, where Mayor Alfred Cobo presented him with the keys to the city, and he had a brief press conference, before heading to Ann Arbor, when he was given an honorary degree. He then presented an antique Amharic Bible to the University of Michigan for its rare books collection.

While the other royal visits are more well known, this visit is one that’s largely forgotten. I wonder what happened to the official City of Windsor visitor’s guest book he signed back in 1954?

I hope everyone had a great holiday season, and happy new year.

Shown after Emperor Haile Selassie arrived in Windsor, Sunday, June 6, 1954, are from left to right Mayor Arthur J. Reaume, Mrs. Reaume, the Emperor, his granddaughter, Princess Sebla Desta, and Prince Sahle Selassie, a son.
Another distinguished name – that of Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia – was added to the City of Windsor’s official guest book last night. Emperor Selassie’s brief, overnight visit to Windsor ended at 9 am today, when he crossed over the Ambassador Bridge to Detroit. He is shown signing the guest book at the Prince Edward Hotel. Looking on is Mayor Arthur J. Reaume.
Windsor has less than two hours this morning in which to pay civic and military tribute to Emperor Haile Selassie, visiting monarch of Ethiopia, who is currently making a royal state tour of North America. The city carried off the affair in impressive style by escorting the Emperor to the Ambassador Bridge where a 100-strong Royal Canadian Regiment guard from London, Ont., awaited to accord the Lion of Judah military honors. The Emperor inspected the guard of honor and spoke to the Windsor and Detroit civic heads before leaving for Detroit at 9:30 am. The bearded King is shown above with his party and escort, which included Mayor Arthur J. Reaume seen at rear, as he inspected members of the 1st Battaliion, R.C.R., after taking the salute from the reviewing stand.
Informal yet dignified, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia had a word for each of the military and civic personages who gathered at the Ambassador Bridge to present their credentials and pay tribute to the head of an African country which is leaning more and more to the West. Shown above, the Emperor shakes hands with Brigadier T. G. Gibson of London, Ont., officer commanding Western Ontario area. At left is the Emperor’s aide-de-camp, Col, Makonnen Dennek who is accompanying his ruler on the tour. following the Windsor ceremony the Emperor and his retinue were escorted by Detroit motorcycle police across the bridge.
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