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The following story was written years ago by LG Dallin and shared in response to social media posts by the Museum in 2023. She is a member of the Murphy family who owned the cottage where Princess Margaret stayed during her visit in 1958.
"The excitement of the preceding months and weeks had periscope into a last few days of frenzied preparation. Mounted Police with their usual “spit and polish” perfection accented the scene with scarlet. Inquisitive natives from miles around were crowding into the area to secure, by an early arrival, the most advantageous accommodations. Chefs, attaches, newspaper men, photographers and opportunists, saturated the town and went about their busy-ness like so many feathers attempting to gain the center of a high speed fan. The permanent inhabitants of the now artificially swollen community had gone underground to wait out the passing storm. Within the next twenty-four hours, her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret Rose, of Great Britain, was expected in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan. Long live the Queen!
Our family had been pleased to receive a communication earlier that summer of 1958, to the effect that the committee in charge of accommodations for the royal visit, wished to use our cabin at Saskatchewan’s northern resort of Waskesiu, for the housing of the Princess for one night during her tour of Western Canada. This arrangement meant that the Princess would stay in our home while our family moved to a nearby motel for the duration. The request was answered in the affirmative and preparations began in earnest.
Wild rumors began drifting in as to what lengths the Murphy clan was going to impress Her Royal Highness. I personally enjoyed squelching, in every conceivable manner, any such reports that reached my ears. In the early summer months, it was a common occurrence to have folks banging on our door and demanding to be shown around the grounds and the house, particularly the room in which the Princess would sleep.
My father (whose English ancestry is best not mentioned at this time since his grandfather had been, in his youth, a tea smuggler) was determined to make the classical test on the Princess by placing a pea under her mattress. Grandfather Murphy was equally determined that nothing of the rustic charm of the “cabin” be altered, save to put new drapes and a new rug in the bedroom the Princess was to occupy. Brother was commissioned to make sure that the steps which led from the driveway down to the patio were in good repair so that (in his words) “The Princess will not fall on her royal … posterior”. Lest there should be hard feelings between commoner and royalty, the whole family was invited to assemble on the morning after her late afternoon arrival, by helicopter on the first fairway of the nearby golf course, to meet her and greet her. This was met with varying degrees of anticipation by family members.
The rest of the episode was almost anticlimactic. Princess Margaret was charming as a Princess should be. Her automatic smile seemed genuine in this early morning encounter. We shook hands, all 16 or so of us and at my turn I dropped a careful and well-oiled curtsy (I had been practicing) and she passed on to meet others. If I had a lasting impression of this brief brush with royalty it was the moment of unmasked resignation which slipped onto the face of the Princess as she was ushered into the waiting limousine which would carry her through the hectic day ahead. No pumpkins and prancing six, no gallant prince to protect her, no lavish and carefree, opulent living for this Princess … only the duty of a royal tour of one of the colonies. God Bless the Empire!
And what about the pea my father slipped under the mattress? Later that afternoon when we moved back into our home, father checked it out. Not a sign of a pea anywhere. Later we learned that the Princess travels with her own mattress and linens which was probably just a well. If she was a true Princess and there was no reason to doubt this, she would have had a restless sleep cause by the lump made by the pea. We also learned from a photographer who was hanging around the place, that in the morning after her overnight stay, before her official day began, she wandered out into the back patio of the cabin and sat down in a deck chair. It folded slowly with her in it and left her struggling to get up. Not quite tipped over, not at all upright, she flailed about until a Mountie who was posted nearby came to her rescue. Protocol says that one must ask permission of a royal to touch them in any way and the red coated rescuer knew this. When he inquired of her if he could help, she replied with a succinct, positive permission laced with a few salty expletives. Hot damn! I had experienced my own wrestles with that ill designed lounger. The Princess and I had something in common after all."
Crowd waiting on Golf Course for the helicopter to arrive
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