Nanaimo’s May Queen crown

Nanaimo’s May Queen crown

Timeless tales: Crown a registered military memorial

NANAIMO - May Queen wore crown dedicated to men who died during First World War.

The City of Nanaimo is home to a rare registered Canadian military memorial – the original May Queen crown.

“This is very unusual to have something like this,” said Aimee Greenaway, interpretation curator at the Nanaimo Museum.

The crown has adorned the heads of numerous May Queens over the years and has travelled down Nanaimo streets during the former Nanaimo Empire Days celebrations.

The crown was made in the early 1920s.

The inscription on the front of the crown reads “dedicated in perpetual remembrance of the men who fell in the great war 1914-1918 Nanaimo district.”

The crown was crafted out of sterling silver, glass stones and fur trim by a Nanaimo jeweller named J. Thorneycroft.

At the time it was dedicated, Harewood, Wellington, Departure Bay and other outlying areas were still considered separate districts so the Nanaimo district would be confined to what people now refer to as downtown Nanaimo, according to Greenaway.

“The May Queen is wearing this when she is doing public events and the parade,” said Greenaway, adding the crown was experiencing wear and tear from the use.

In the 1990s a replica was made of the crown because the original was too delicate to withstand continued use.

The May Queen crown was on loan to the Nanaimo Museum for the past two years. This July the Nanaimo Empire Days Celebrations Society donated the original and replica crowns to the museum’s permanent collections.

Along with the crowns, the society also donated the purple cape, parasols and other regalia used by May Queens over the years.

Greenaway said there haven’t been any requests so far to use the May Queen crown for any Remembrance Day services in the community.

There are more than 7,500 Canadian Military Memorials in the national inventory overseen by Veteran Affairs Canada.

Most war memorials are cairns, sculptures, buildings or street and building names.

Besides the May Queen crown, Nanaimo has six other war memorials on the registry: the Nanaimo Airport’s Nanaimo-Collishaw Air Terminal, a plaque at St. Paul’s Church, the Royal Canadian Legion Mount Benson Branch No. 256 wooden cross erected for all war veterans in 1960, the General George R. Pearkes Senior Citizens Housing Society 42-unit housing complex, the mural of the HMCS Saskatchewan and the granite shaft outside of Dallas Square.

For more information about the registered military memorials, please go to

For more information about Nanaimo’s May Queen crown, please call the Nanaimo Museum at 250-753-1821.

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