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Timmins history: Why Leo Del Villano and his wife were invited to dinner with the Queen

In our Timmins history feature this week, we wrap up our look at the very colourful Mayor Leo Del Villano.

In the late 1950s, His Worship learned that the bearskin busby hats worn by the Queen’s palace guards were getting ragged.

So, as Timmins Museum director-curator Karen Bachmann tells us, he decided to have a bear hunt in this area.

“They held it in the spring. They got 50 pelts,” she reports “He was at a meeting in Montreal for financial planners for municipalities and presented them to the British Consulate there.”

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Del Villano got a letter from Buckingham Palace, ensuring him that the pelts were made into hats. Then during her 1959 visit to Canada, Queen Elizabeth II econd invited Del Villano and his wife to join her for dinner.

“And I would have loved to have been at that dinner,” Bachmann comments, “because I’m sure it was quite amusing for everybody.” Both the queen and the mayor had a great sense of humour.

Bachmann says the man known simply as Leo was a no-nonsense guy who wouldn’t get away today with some of his comments… and things like his weekly meeting with local media, complete with “Irished-up” coffee.

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