VANCOUVER - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined world leaders Thursday in offering condolences to the British Royal Family on the death of Queen Elizabeth, whose death at the age of 96 marks the end of an era for many in Britain and the wider Commonwealth.
Mr Trudeau expressed his condolences from Vancouver, where he has been at a three-day Cabinet retreat.
Canada announced a 10-day mourning period and lowered the flag on Canada's parliamentary buildings to half-mast.
"It is with the deepest of sorrow that we learned today of the passing of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II," Mr Trudeau, dressed in a dark suit, said in remarks to reporters.
"She was our Queen for almost half of Canada's existence, and she had an obvious deep and abiding love and affection for Canadians," he said. "She was one of my favourite people in the world, and I will miss her so."
Queen Elizabeth died in Scotland surrounded by some of her family members, Buckingham Palace said Thursday.
Her eldest son Charles, 73, automatically becomes king of the United Kingdom and the head of state of 14 other realms, including Canada. His wife Camilla becomes Queen Consort.
Although Canada ceased being a colony of Britain in 1867, it remained in the British Empire until 1982, and is still a member of the Commonwealth of former empire countries that have the British monarch as head of state.A British-appointed governor-general acts on behalf of the monarch.
The Queen visited Canada more than any other country during her reign - 23 times as part of Royal Tours over the course of 70 years.
James Smith Cree Nation, which witnessed one of Canada's worst ever incidents of mass violence on Sunday, resulting in the death of 10 people, received this week one of Queen Elizabeth's last letters of condolence, one of the chiefs told reporters Thursday.
At the Clarence & Cripps British boutique and tea-room near Montreal, some customers were stunned to learn of the Queen's death, while others were hugging and in tears, said co-owner Nicky Fisher, who is from England.
"Everybody was just standing around not really knowing what to do," Mr Fisher said. "If she'd been sick for a while, we'd have been prepared. It is hard. It's the real end of an era," she added.
Ms Monique Ledoyen came to Ottawa from North Vancouver to meet a group of friends from her college days and tour Rideau Hall, the official residence of Canada's governor-general. But the tour was cancelled due to the Queen's death.
Ms Ledoyen said she met the Queen during a royal visit to Winnipeg in 1970.
"I was a Girl Guide and I was in her honour guard, and the Queen and Prince Philip and Charles and Anne walked by me," she said, adding Prince Philip spoke to her. "I was just thrilled." REUTERS