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Summerside woman who shares birthday with Canada Day remembers celebrations on Parliament Hill

Effie Steele, 10, called onto the field at a Montreal Expos game in 1977, while her name appeared on the big screen.
Effie Steele, 10, called onto the field at a Montreal Expos game in 1977, while her name appeared on the big screen.

July 1 is much more than Canada Day for Effie Steele-Murray.

Effie Steele-Murray with a signed baseball featuring the names of Toronto Blues Jays players.

“I’m what they call a centennial baby. I was born on July 1, 1967. Canada’s 100th birthday.”

The Summerside native doesn’t remember the day she was born when the town gave her a stroller in celebration of being a centennial baby, but she does remember her 10th birthday.

“I was selected to represent P.E.I. at the Canada Day celebrations that would take place on Parliament Hill that year. The government paid for the trip. I was flown to Toronto and Montreal with my older sister Holly. I don’t know how I was picked, but it was incredible,” she said.

Steele-Murray’s older sister acted as her guardian on the trip since her parents weren’t able to make the trek.

“There was a child from each province on the trip as well as two of the territories. We shook mayor John Drapeau’s hand when we arrived in Montreal, which was really neat.”

The group spent several days touring the cities, seeing the sites and taking in the sounds of Expo 77.

“I remember having a lot of fun with the kids in the hotel. We would play games and goof off. All of it was really an incredible time.”

Effie Steele-Murray as a baby, in a stroller given to her family by the town of Summerside.

One of the most nerve-racking parts of the trip was attending the Montreal Expos game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We were all lined up in the corridor as we waited to be called out onto the field. They called us one by one. I was so nervous. Even taking my first flight ever to get there didn’t make me that anxious.”

Her favourite part was standing on Parliament Hill.

“Looking back, I’m astonished that I got to be a part of something like this. I have photos of the crowds on the hill that day and it’s huge. To think I was there is truly a privilege.”

When Steele-Murray returned home, the town threw her a celebration.

“That was really neat. Everyone was full of cheers and it was nice to celebrate with family and friends.”

Forty years later, Steele-Murray is preparing for a quiet birthday party with her husband John and their Pomeranian, Foxy.

“I’m going to be 50 this year. And so are the kids that were on that trip with me. It would be great to know where they are now, get a reunion together. It truly was a privilege to share that moment.”

millicent.mckay@journalpioneer.com

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