The Royal Cigarette Butt

Not officially part of our holdings—you won’t find it in our database—the Royal Cigarette Butt was acquired by the first City Archivist, Major Matthews, and we cannot part with it.

According to The Royal Progress in Vancouver (Item #PAM 1939-115), during their 1939 tour King George and Queen Elizabeth were entertained by a massed choir of 1500 singing outside of City Hall while they were inside.

. . . as their Majesties and the Mayor were in no hurry to leave the Mayor’s parlour, the crowd, under the direction of Archdeacon Sir Francis Heathcote, sang in unison:

‘We want the king.’

‘We want the King.’

The Queen stepped to the window and waved, and immediately there was a roar of approval from those below. The King stubbed out his cigarette and they left the Mayor’s parlour to descend to the Plaza.

Now there is a little story about the stub of the King’s cigarette. Immediately the Royal Party had gone Mrs. Hilda Pinder-Moss, Assistant Secretary, seized the cigarette stub and placed it in an envelope. No doubt she now exhibits her proud possession to all her friends!

Excerpt from Merry America: Their Majesties’ Tour of Canada, United States of America and Newfoundland, 1939, by H. R Pratt Boorman.

The cigarette butt was housed in a glass vial and cushioned within a small cardboard tube, where it remains.

2 responses to “The Royal Cigarette Butt

  1. Funny how little bits of royalty become something you cannot toss.

    My own story.

    Woodward’s bakery prepared wedding cake for the wedding of Charles and Diana using the ‘official royal recipe’. It was distributed to customers wrapped in little paper doilies with the occasion printed on the outside of the doilie.

    Fast forward 31 years. I have moved my Mom to Assisted Living and I am dealing with a house full of memories and memorabilia (we need to talk!). In the china cabinet is this little dish with 4 pieces of petrified wedding cake. What do you do with it. As you confess – you cannot part with the cigarette-and I have not idea what to do with this piece of cake!

    As serendipity would have it, my dear friend Shelley was helping me wade through the collection of memories and I pointed out the solid brown lump that was formerly know as wedding cake. Of course… in my mind the question is ‘what do you do with it… auction it on ebay?’. In a nano-second we both looked at each other with the realization that at the time that cake was distributed, the father of my friend was head baker for Woodward’s. He baked that cake! He passed away several years ago from cancer and we all miss him as well as his fabulous shortbread.

    After having a good cry… it became quite obvious that the petrified wedding cake had a new home – with the family of its maker.

    Now the next generation gets to say ‘what are we supposed to do with this?’

  2. Heather Gordon

    What a lovely story, Sharon. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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