The King and Queen of Greece visit Toledo

It is quite possible – and feel free to correct me if I am in error – that there has been only one visit to Toledo by any reigning monarch. And Toledo turned out in force for the brief, whirlwind visit of King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece in 1953.

The day – Nov. 5, 1953 – started when the King and Queen stepped off their train at they city’s brand new Union Station and were greeted by mayor Lloyd E. Roulet and Ward Canaday (Canaday said he suggested a visit to the King during a tree-planting ceremony in Greece).

Ward M. Canaday

The Blade described Canaday as a “Toledo industrialist” but he was a lot more than that – Ward Murphy Canaday was chairman of the board and president of Willys-Overland and is often referred to as “the father of the Jeep.” He died Feb. 27, 1976 at age 90. The Ward M. Canaday Center For Special Collections at the University of Toledo is named in honor; his daughter made a large donation to make the center possible.

Leaving from the new station, The Blade estimated 70,000 people lined the motorcade route as it passed through downtown on its way to the Willys plant. “Thousands of school children cheered and waved at the royal visitors from vantage points at Collingwood Blvd. and West Woodruff Ave., in front of Ursuline Academy and Scott High School, and at Rosary Catherdal.”

King Paul and Queen Frederika of Greece make remarks at Union Station upon alighting in Toledo in 1953. Photo courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, obtained from http://images2.toledolibrary.org/

At the plant, Canaday, his wife, and executive vice president Raymond R. Rausch took the King and Queen on a tour of an assembly line, and the King spoke to the workers, expressing his gratitude for the help, leadership and inspiration coming from the United States. “American aid helped keep my country fron disaster…in Greece you have friends who will never fail you.”

After the visit to Willys, the motorcade swung through the West Toledo and Ottawa Park areas, the University of Toledo, and Ottawa Hills (passing Canaday’s house at 4425 Brookside Rd.), heading down Reynolds Road through Maumee, into Perrysburg and over to Rossford, where the King and Queen toured the Libbey-Owens-Ford plant in Rossford.

King Paul of Greece examines a blast furnace at the Libbey-Owens-Ford plant in Rossford. Photo courtesy of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, obtained from http://images2.toledolibrary.org/

The Blade, being an afternoon paper, also referred to a luncheon at the Commodore Perry and a visit to the Toledo Museum of Art.

Upon returning downtown, more than 1,500 people jammed the intersection of Superior and Walnut Streets outside the Hellenic Orthodox Church (known today as Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church) to greet the royal couple. “Their tumultuous welcome forced the limousine bearing the King and Queen to come to a halt. Paul got out of the car to acknowledge the wild cheering and shake hands with several men and women in the crowd,” The Blade said.

As far as I can tell the King and Queen spent the night at the Commodore Perry and headed off to Detroit the next morning.

According to the State Department’s website, Toledo was one stop of many for the king and queen. It started in Washington at the invitation of President Eisenhower. Afterwards, they visited Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Grand Canyon, Houston, New Orleans and Williamsburg, and then back to New York for a two-week private visit.

King Paul was the next-to-last king of Greece. He died in 1964 and was succeeded by his son, Constantine II, who was only king for a little over three years until a military coup forced him into exile (which was followed by the monarchy being abolished in 1973).

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