Margaret Trudeau Makes For Most Interesting Sunday Newspaper Read
Perhaps one needs to be of a certain age to find Margaret Trudeau of interest. But for a period of my life it seemed there was never a shortage of stories about her antics. So when her son was elected Prime Minister last month it was only a matter of time before a great article would emerge about her life. Today it made for the best read in the Sunday papers.
In her memoir, “Changing My Mind,” published in 2010, Mrs. Trudeau recalls not being particularly impressed by her future husband when they first met on the island of Moorea in Tahiti. She was on vacation with her parents and sisters; he was there to mull over seeking the leadership of the Liberal Party.
Mr. Trudeau was reading “History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” which struck her as an odd choice for a holiday. “My first thought was that he was old, with old skin and old toes,” Ms. Trudeau wrote.
After graduating from Simon Fraser University in her native British Columbia, Mrs. Trudeau made her way to Morocco and “wandered from one hippie colony to another, experimenting and growing up — or so I imagined.” After she returned to Canada, Mr. Trudeau, a longtime bachelor, looked her up for a date while he was out in British Columbia.
Based on an offhand comment from him that evening, she moved to Ottawa and took a job as a government sociologist. Neither the capital city nor the work suited her. But Mr. Trudeau did. He may have had old toes, but he was as athletic as he was intellectual. Photos of Mr. Trudeau skiing or canoeing, often in a buckskin jacket, regularly appeared in Canadian newspapers. They married in March 1971. She was 22, he was 51.
Within the next few years, Mrs. Trudeau gave birth to three boys. The two oldest, Justin and Alexandre, who is known as Sasha, were both born on Christmas Days. The youngest, Michel, came to be called Miche (pronounced “Meesh”), a name given to him by Fidel Castro during a state visit to Cuba.
Whatever Mr. Trudeau’s charms, living with his mother well into middle age proved not to be ideal preparation for life as a husband, a situation made worse by his heavy work schedule. And while he was wealthy thanks to his father’s success in the gas station business, Mrs. Trudeau soon discovered that her husband was an exceptional tightwad.