Queen Milli of Galt

“Queen Milli of Galt” is a play, written by Gary Kirkham, that’s coming to Theatre Orangeville May 8.  In fact, this morning, Susan went to the first read through, at the rehearsal hall.  It is a delightfully heart warming story – we saw the play in Blythe a few years ago – and can hardly wait for it to open here.  Yes, it’s Good Friday, and the cast is rehearsing again on Easter Sunday, but as they said in the movie “Shakespeare in Love“:

William:  “The show must…”

Tilney – Master of the Revels: “Go on.”

The story of Queen Milli of Galt is true – partly, or wholly, we’re not sure.  But Millicent Millory was a real person – born in Galt, Ontario, in 1890.  She became a teacher who worked in Lambton Mills, Malton, Northern Ontario, and Rockwood – also, apparently, in Calgary.  Prince Edward, who became Edward VIII, was certainly a real person and a playboy, and he did visit Canada several times before becoming king… in 1919, 1923, 1924, 1927 and later up to 1950, but it’s the 1919 visit where the story began.  While here in 1919, the prince stayed at the Iroquois Hotel in Galt.  Millicent’s father, James Milroy, owned the hotel, so it’s quite reasonable to believe that Milli could have met Prince Edward there, as she claimed.  The prince also bought a ranch near Calgary that he visited often – even after he abdicated the throne and married Wallis Simpson.  But the rest of the story is not so easily confirmed.

Did Milli Milroy Marry Prince Edward?

For the rest of her life, Milli claimed that she did indeed marry the prince.  She said it was a morganatic marriage, which means that she and any children give up any claim to royal title or privilege.  There were children, she said, two boys – Andrew and Edward – who were either quickly adopted, taken back to England by the royal family, killed in a car crash, or – one of them at least – risen to power and influence in the Canadian government.  To save embarrassing the prince and royal family, Milli kept secret the names of her sons, but she did, occasionally, show friends the marriage certificate and photos that she kept in the family bible.  She said she would allow these to be made public after her death.

Milli died in 1985, and on her gravestone is incised: “Millicent A.M.M.M.St.P-Daughter of James and Helen Milroy, 1890-1985 Wife of Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, 1894-1972”.  Not long after Milli died, someone broke into her home.  The only thing taken was the family bible.   In a story in the Wellington Advertiser, August 29, 2003, writer Stephen Thorning quotes an interview with the late Eva Howlett, a friend of Millicent Milroy, who confirmed many of these facts.

What’s the Real Story?

What does it matter?  It may be true, in whole or in part, but it’s an intriguing tale, and the play written about it is delightful.  “Queen Milli of Galt” runs from May 8 to 25 at Theatre Orangeville, 87 Broadway, Orangeville.  It stars Heidi Lynch, Jefferson Mappin, Mag Ruffman, Adrian Shepherd and Lauren Toffan.  David Nairn directs.

There is another story told… one that connects the prince to Orangeville in a very distant way.  Apparently during one of his early visits to Canada, his car (minus the prince) pulled up to a gas station on Broadway and filled up.  Kind-a like the many American inns that claim “George Washington Slept Here” or those in Great Britain claiming “Dick Turpin slept here.”  But all these tales may be true!

Post Script

Susan got back from the read through – and lunch – just a few moments ago. She said, “The play is even better than I remember – and all the actors are superb”.  Gary Kirkham was at the reading, too, and he was thrilled with this production.  It’s going to be so much fun!

Post Post Script

If you’re into geocaching, here’s a challenge.

Signs Say the Silliest Things

Many years ago, we were on a road trip around Cape Breton – I just remembered the lobster rolls and clam chowder, it must be lunch time.  Anyway, I saw a sign in the window of a jewellery store in North Sydney.  It was professionally produced, printed with bright colours.  It read “Ears Pierced While You Wait”.  The first thing I thought was “No thanks, I’ll pick them up on my way home”.

Last summer, we were wandering around the area – in the Hills of Headwaters, not Cape Breton.  We turned right at the south end of Erin’s downtown, parked, and took a little walk.  Crossing the bridge over the river that runs south from town, this sign was set on a concrete block set right into the water, facing the bridge:

girl's head profile, with pony tail, eating ice cream, in the barred circle from road signs


and all I could think of was, “______?”

What’s it trying to say?

On the same subject (ice cream, not signs), if you’re in Toronto and want to enjoy the city’s best ice cream, go to Ed’s Real Scoop – on Queen East at Logan, Queen East at Beech, and now open on Roncesvalles.

Running In the Mud

Some things are irresistible.  Wet concrete, for instance.  Not many can resist setting a penny or writing initials in a wet sidewalk once the workers pack up their shovels and drive off.  Forty years ago or so, someone gave into this urge (According to the Orangeville Works Department, this sidewalk was poured in the late 70’s or early 80’s).  I was out for a walk late last summer (2013) and found where someone had left his mark in the sidewalk on the south side of Church Street in Orangeville, just east of the train tracks.

A footprint in the sidewalk

Footprints in the sidewalk… way more fun than initials.

Footprints have got to be free… in spite of attempted repairs it still shows through.

Footprints have got to be free… in spite of attempted repairs it still shows through.

I have a picture of a summer’s evening, warm and bright.  The Works Department crew has left and the concrete in the new sidewalk is curing.  A young man sees the caution barrier and the wet concrete and gets an idea. He takes off his shoes and socks and runs down the sidewalk, his arms waving wildly and his feet barely staying under him.  The wet concrete squishes a bit underfoot and leaves a white rime on his soles.  As he runs, he shouts at the top of his voice, nothing intelligible, just exuberance.  Someone reading the paper on this front porch looks up, shakes his head and mutters, “Kids”.  Maybe there were other boys there – buddies who dared him to do it – but I think he’d have done it anyway. It looks like they have tried a couple of times over the years to repair the footprints, but they’re still there and will be at least until the time comes to replace the concrete.  Sidewalks have a life of 50 or 60 years, so they’ll be there for a few more years at least.