Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Happy Anniversary

Mar 5, 2016

I note that yesterday, March 4, was Margaret Trudeau's wedding anniversary. It was 45 years ago that she and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau tied the knot at a quiet ceremony at a church in North Vancouver.

Does this qualify as a "remember where you were" moment for Canadians? I know it does for me. On the evening of March 4, 1971, I was in the press box of the hockey arena in Medicine Hat, Alberta. One of the perks of working at the local newspaper, for which I was writing editorials at the time, was a regular seat high above the ice surface at the home games of the local Junior A team, the Tigers. While we sipped on our rye and cokes, the sports editor gave me an education in the finer points of hockey, a game I had never been interested in before.

As was customary, when the game ended that night we phoned in the final score to Canadian Press, which is when the editor on the other end of the line told us the news: our middle-aged prime minister had married a hippie! We immediately repaired to the bar of the Assiniboine Hotel to discuss the implications.

Footnote: We soon learned that the new first lady came from North Vancouver's premier political family. Her father, James Sinclair, known to his intimates as Jimmy, had been the Liberal member of Parliament for the riding of Coast Capilano for 18 years and the Minister of Fisheries during the St. Laurent years. In fact he was considered to be the front-runner to succeed St Laurent as party leader and PM when ill health sidelined him. If not for a bad back, he might have become the first politician from BC to become PM.