Queen Elizabeth puts Waterloo on the map

For a brief time this morning, the residents of Waterloo Region had royalty in their midst. One of only five stops on the nine-day Royal Tour, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s stopover in Waterloo brought the pair to Research In Motion (RIM), maker of the world-famous BlackBerry.

The Queen was met by an impressive crowd as her motorcade descended upon RIM’s Phillip Steet location.

Amidst a large crowd, many of whom had gathered for hours, Queen Elizabeth was promptly whisked inside the plant.

Accompanied by RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, the 84-year-old Queen was taken for a 30-minute tour of the facility and then presented with a personalized white BlackBerry.

David Yach, RIM’s Chief Technology Officer for Software, expressed excitement over what the royal couple’s visit meant for RIM.

“It feels that it gives us some recognition… not for what we do locally, but for what we do globally as well,” he said.

Peter Braid, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, echoed Yach’s enthusiasm.

“[It] speaks to how important we are in the national fabric and as an engine of our national economy,” he said.

Braid also highlighted the significance of the Queen’s visit for the city as a whole, saying that it “underscores the very important role that we play with respect to our high tech community as a research hub and as a centre of innovation.”

If Waterloo was previously overlooked, according to Braid, the affectionately dubbed “home of the BlackBerry” is now “on the map.”

For others, however, the Queen’s visit to Waterloo Region served as a marker of a different sort.

For Waterloo residents Elizabeth and John Kerr, the occasion marked their eighth time seeing the Queen. The couple, who considers Queen Elizabeth the “Queen of Canada”, was ecstatic to hear of the 2010 Royal Tour’s Waterloo stop. This, John Kerr explained, is because the Queen is “not just visiting, [she is] coming home.”

Today’s visit to Waterloo marked the second-last day of the Queen’s 22nd Canadian homecoming. Tomorrow Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip will fly on to New York City where Her Majesty will address the United Nations assembly.

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