Columbia's Welcome - words and music by John Joel Austin
For a most important musical occasion in 1882 John Joel Austin published his composition, Columbia's Welcome, for the visit of the Governor General of Canada, the Marquis of Lorne, and his wife, Queen Victoria's daughter Princess Louise. The march was performed at "A Grand Concert under the distinguished patronage and in Aid of the Royal Hospital and Protestant Orphanage, Victoria, by the Victoria Amateur Orchestra, assisted by Principal Vocalists of the City, at Philharmonic Hall, Fort Street ..."
A tumultuous welcome by the "large and brilliant company" greeted the vice-regal guests at the concert:
"After quiet was again resumed the programme commenced with Mr. J. J. Austin's chorus entitled Columbia's Welcome to our royal visitors. In this welcome, which as a piece of musical composition is of a high order of merit, Mr. Chambers resigned his baton to the composer ... The sweet chorus and perfect harmony of Mr. Austin's production elicited much applause throughout, the audience showing conclusively that is was thoroughly appreciated ..." (Colonist, Nov. 22, 1882)
The Colonist also reported on "the most brilliant social event ever witnessed in the Province," a reception in the Legislative chambers of for the vice-regal visitors. James K Nesbitt's article in the Islander December 2, 1979, revisits the earlier Colonist's "monumental task" of describing the elaborate gowns worn by the wives and daughters of the VIPs and their positions in 1880s Victoria. Mrs. John Austin wore "crimson grosgrain, en train, petticoat of crimson moire, trimmed with jet lace and ornamented with white rosebuds."
Columbia's Welcome composed and conducted by John Joel Austin to open a concert under the distinguished patronage of the Marquis of Lorne, Governor General of Canada, and his wife, Princess Louise, in 1882. (Family Collection)