|Monday, July 21, 2008|
It was a homecoming fit for royalty, with a surprise twist, for Ontario Lieutenant Governor David Onley and his wife Ruth Ann.
Descendants of United Empire Loyalists and local dignitaries welcomed the honourable couple to the Spruce Row Museum in Waterford yesterday afternoon for a UEL certificate presentation.
With a "greeting that was 30 degrees Celsius warmer" than the couple's last visit to the area, Onley and his wife were thrilled to be celebrating Ontario's heritage. Specifically, Ruth Ann's.
Onley and the Grand River Branch of the United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada successfully kept the surprise certificate presentation under wraps until the moment Ruth Ann's name was called.
"I was completely shocked," she said. "I was not expecting this to happen today."
After Onley presented his stunned wife with her prestigious award, she joked, "should I shake his hand?"
Then she leaned in and kissed him.
The certificate, which is awarded to those who are of proven UEL descent, now entitles Ruth Ann to sign her name with the designation UE.
Being a Simcoe native, it was quite fitting that she received her award in Norfolk County.
"It's a pinch me moment," she said, prior to receiving the award. "It's always so great to come back and catch up with everyone."
Onley, who hails from Midland, Ontario, said that he too enjoys coming to Norfolk because it reminds him of his childhood.
"It helps to emphasize your roots and realize how deep they go," he said. "With all the travelling and moving everyone does in these modern times, it's important to date back. That's what we're doing here today."
Despite a few nerves about meeting Ontario's royal representatives, the members of the Grand River branch, along with other branch visitors, were thrilled to welcome the couple and help pull off the surprise.
"It was marvellous to have them here," said Bill Terry, the branch's past president. "Of course nerves are there, but they are so warm and relaxing. It was fun to have a little surprise to go along with it."
While Onley's visit was a momentous occasion for Norfolk residents and UEL members, the event even created buzz outside of the community.
"It was such an impressive ceremony," said Alison Smith UE, from Kitchener, who was also slightly nervous to meet the couple.
As great advocates for their own heritage as well as Ontario and Canada's, the Onleys said they are pleased to assist in these types of celebrations.
"Our institutions here in Ontario date back a long time into our roots," Onley said. "They didn't just come about from nothing. There was a great amount of effort in our nation's development."
© 2008 , Osprey Media