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Royal walk down memory lane

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sometimes the smallest thing can spark some of our biggest memories.

NNSL photo/graphic

Bill Gawor of Rankin Inlet received this coin commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II when he was an eightyearold boy attending school in Quebec 59 years ago. - Darrell Greer/NNSL photo

So it was for Bill Gawor of Rankin Inlet this past month when he came upon a souvenir token he's had in his possession since his youth.

Shortly after the death of King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, his daughter, Elizabeth, wore the crown as Queen of England.

A year later, in 1953, thousands of souvenir coins were circulated among school children in the Commonwealth.

And Gawor remembers the time well.

Gawor said for whatever reason, it took some time to arrange the official coronation ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II.

He said that's why the copper coin bears the 1953 date.

"I was attending Sullivan Mines in Val-d'Or, Que., which was a French school with one English class," remembers Gawor.

"We had seven grades in one class, and kids were bringing in stuff about our new Queen every morning.

"It was interesting to see what everyone had and then paste it in as a souvenir."

Gawor, now 68, vividly remembers receiving his commemorative coin as an eight-year-old boy.

He said the monarchy was still a big deal in those days, even in Quebec.

"I was in Grade 3 at the time and, as a class project, we kept a scrapbook with all things relating to the new Queen that we could find.

"Most of the articles were from the Toronto Star Weekly, but even Kellogg's Corn Flakes got in on the act with a contest to correctly colour a drawing of the Queen's crown on the back of each box of Corn Flakes."

Gawor said a search of the coin on eBay showed it selling for about $5.

But, he said, he has no intention of selling his coin, because it brings back too many memories.

"The token has a lot of sentimental value to me and I still remember the overcast day we received them.

"While I clutched the coin in my fist during recess, the entire schoolyard suddenly started watching as a biwing plane flew over with some guy actually standing outside between the double wings.

"Just standing out on the wings bigger than life!

"It's a day I don't think I'll ever forget."

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