In 1978, the year Edmonton hosted the Commonwealth Games, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and their son Edward embarked upon a month-long tour of Canada.

Nine of those days were spent visiting several communities in Saskatchewan, where Cochranite Bob Head, then an RCMP Inspector in Regina, was assigned to head up security.

At the time, it was just one of the assignments he had in his 37-year career in the RCMP. With the Queen's passing, he has been reflecting on those nine days.

Bob kept a close watch on them, day in, day out, and says the Queen proved to be the kind and caring person he had hoped she'd be.

"She was genuine, in my view, having watched her with many, many dignitaries," says Bob. "For example, I watched her with Allan Blakely and Roy Romanow and they were all welcoming her to Saskatchewan. Then she would turn aside and see a little girl with flowers and that was probably just as important to her as meeting our dignitaries."

Queen and Bob HeadQueen Elizabeth II chatting with a Brownie during her visit to Saskatchewan in 1978. Bob Head is second from the left with an ink arrow pointing at him. (Photo courtesy of Bob Head)

The tour took them to Regina, Saskatoon, Melville, Yorkton, Lloydminster, Fort Qu'Appelle, Balcarres, the Cory Potash Mine, and Moose Jaw, where she attended church.

Her deep concern for people was illustrated to Bob when unfortunately a chief petty officer, who was part of the escort, died of a heart attack en route to the 15 Wing Moose Jaw air base. 

"After we were boarding the aircraft, the Queen said to her lady-in-waiting she wanted her paper and pen. She wrote a letter to the chief petty officer's family as we were on the plane and had it delivered. She felt very badly, and that's the type of person that I assumed she was and was proved to be. She was just a fine, fine person."

"The impact she made over 76 years, I think was quite magnificent. She never failed to remember people who were around her as helpers, and she did that with me and my assistant."

On the last day before she left Saskatoon for Lloydminster, the Queen asked to see Bob and his assistant, whom he describes as a wonderful hard-working staff sergeant.

"We met at their room, Prince Philip was there as well, and she thanked me for security and presented me with a signed photograph of her and Prince Philip, and ER gold cufflinks. I still have them, and after 44 years it still brings back memories."

collage from 1978 Queen tourIn addition to the autographed photograph, Bob has kept the security plan for the Queen's visit to Saskatchewan, a keepsake booklet of photos, and the gold ER cufflinks (not pictured) he was presented.