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U of M archives release never-seen-before footage of earlier royal visit

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla will be photographed by every possible device imaginable — but for the very first time, University of Manitoba is making available never-before-seen old-fashioned newsreel camera film footage of a much earlier royal visit.

On May 24, 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Winnipeg as part of their Royal Tour of Canada, traveling by train across the nation. They were greeted in Winnipeg by an estimated 100,000 people, including thousands of Americans. And, while staying overnight at Government House in Winnipeg, the King made his longest ever radio broadcast to the British Empire.

In 2013, Archives and Special Collections of the University of Manitoba Libraries acquired some material that had belonged to R.A. Storch, a graduate in civil engineering and a teacher and vice-principal at Winnipeg schools. Storch died on Jan. 14, 1988 at the age of 84. Among his personal effects were the materials that piqued the interest of U of M archivist Shelley Sweeney: more than 250 historical photographs of Winnipeg and a handful of colour and black and white 16mm films.

Two of the films feature the visit of King George VI of England and Queen Elizabeth to Winnipeg in 1939, showing people preparing for the Queen and King to drive by, and related festivities. School groups of children are shown, including some from what appear to be Somerset School and Cecil Rhodes School, excitedly waiting to see the Royal Couple.

In honour of the visit of Camilla and Charles, Archives and Special Collections have put online two of Storch’s films of the 1939 Royal Visit, including one colour film that is more than four minutes in length. In addition, Archives has also created a Vine showing the Royals driving by in their limousine, and will embed the short video on its Facebook page.

"This film had been long forgotten in a warehouse, and it is sheer serendipity to have it surface just in time for the visit of Charles and Camilla," said Sweeney.

The films of the 1939 Royal Visit can also be viewed here and here. The Vine can be accessed on the Archives & Special Collections Facebook page. Information on the R.A. Storch Fonds can be found here.

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