December 7, 2013

Celia Sandys Follows Her Grandfather’s Footsteps In Ottawa

115241.04The Speaker With Celia Sandys stand where the “Roaring Lion” portrait was takenAt the invitation of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa, Celia Sandys arrived in Ottawa from London for two days of pre-Churchill birthday activities in which she retraced her grandfather’s steps in Canada’s capital. Churchill travelled to Canada nine times between 1900 and 1954. On six of those trips, he visited Ottawa, where, on the 30th of December 1941, just over three weeks after Pearl Harbor and four days after his first speech to the American Congress, he delivered to the Canadian Parliament one of his most inspiring wartime addresses, which included the famous “Some chicken ! Some neck !” taunt of the Vichy regime.

He followed that speech with an unanticipated (by him) stop in the Speaker’s office, where photographer Yousuf Karsh awaited his prime ministerial quarry. The resulting determined, defiant, cigar-less Churchill, known as the “Roaring Lion” portrait, became one of the best-known photographic images of all time.

On November 28th, the Hon. Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons, invited Celia to his office to see the largest original print of the Roaring Lion, which hangs in the very place where the photograph was taken. Taking a photograph of Celia with the Karsh portrait was a perfect juxtaposition of the generations. The Churchill-Sandys photo by Ottawa Citizen photographer Bruno Shlumberger ran with Chris Cobb’s article the next day.

The Speaker then hosted a Reception for Members of Parliament, Senators and members of the SWCSO, at which Celia spoke of the “poignant and important connection” of Canada and its Parliament to her grandfather.

DSC_0539Ron Cohen and Celia Sandys Stand Where Churchill Addressed Canada’s ParliamentOn the following day, Celia had a tour of Parliament, including the magnificent Parliamentary Library (where the original pages of the 1941 speech were exhibited by the Churchill Archives Centre last year.) Together with Ron Cohen, President of the SWCSO, she got to stand at the place on the Floor of the House from which Churchill delivered the speech.

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Later that evening, the British High Commissioner to Canada hosted a splendid evening at Earnscliffe, the historic Residence of the High Commissioners in Ottawa since 1930. At an event complete with raw oysters and Pol Roger, among other delights, Celia spoke on “Memories of My Grandfather”. She enthralled the audience, sharing unique personal memories, thoughtful assessments of her Grandpapa and the importance to him of his family, her travel experiences with him (including the extraordinary 1959 voyage on the Onassis yacht, Christina), and highly amusing anecdotes. SWCSO members described her address as highly moving and a triumph.

Although her speeches were not recorded, Celia did interviews with CBC radio and CBC television, as well as the Ottawa Citizen. All can be read, watched or listened to on the SWCSO website here.

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