Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Margaret, the Activist

The marriage between Margaret and Pierre Trudeau deteriorated to the point where, Margaret had an affair with Senator Ted Kennedy. She was also associated with members of the Rolling Stones such as Ronnie Woods and Mick Jagger. (This is according to Margaret's book and Keith Richards' autobiography respectively.)

Margaret separate from Pierre in 1977 and began a much talked about life as a jet-setter. She was also suffering from stress and bipolar disorder depression. Her ex-husband won custody of the boys and didn't pay any spousal support so Margaret found it difficult to make a living after her divorce. She began to give tell-all interviews to magazines in the US and Canada as well as appearing in two movies. She also wrote the book, Beyond Reason, which told of her marriage to the Canadian politician.

Pierre Trudeau's Liberal party failed to maintain a majority of seats in the House of Commons in the 1979 election. On that evening, Margaret Trudeau was dancing at the New York City nightclub, Studio 54. The next day, photos of her dancing were splashed across papers nationwide.

On November 16, 1983, Margaret filed for a no-fault divorce. It was finalized on April 2, 1984. Just over two weeks later, on April 18, 1984, Margaret married Ottawa real-estate developer, Fried Kemper. Her three sons attended the wedding. Margaret and Fried had two children together: a son named Kyle born in 1984 and a daughter, Alicia, born in 1988.

Tragedy struck the Trudeau family in November of 1988. Michel, the youngest son, was killed was killed when an avalanche swept him to the bottom of British Columbia's Kokanee Lake. This was devastating for Margaret and she suffered another massive depressive episode. The led to her second divorce.

Pierre Trudeau died in 2000 and Margaret - as well as their two sons, Justin and Alexandre - were at his bedside. 10 years later, Margaret said about her marriage to Trudeau;

"Just because our marriage ended didn’t mean the love stopped."

On May 5, 2006, Margaret announced she was suffering from bipolar disorder. She is an advocate for reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder. She has speaking engagements across North America and is an honorary patron of the Canadian Mental Health Association.  She is also the author of Changing My Mind a look at her struggles with bipolar disorder. The book was published in 2010 by Harper Collins.

Today, Margaret Trudeau is he honorary president of WaterCan, an Ottawa-based organization dedicated to helping the poorest communities in developing countries build sustainable water supply and sanitation services.

On October 19, 2015, Margaret's eldest son, Justin Trudeau, began his run for the position of Prime Minister of Canada. Justin led the Liberal party to a majority government, making him the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada. During the campaign period, Trudeau avoided campaigning herself in fear of suggesting her son was "so unready he needs his mummy."

This is my last entry for 2015. I want to thank all my readers for their continued support. I love writing this blog, finding out more about the city and country I live and sharing it with you. However, my goals in life have shifted a bit.

On September 14, 2015, I launched a mentor/life coach program to help people with chronic illness or disability reach goals, achieve dreams and live a better life. I have also recently become a member of the Rick Hansen Ambassador program. I have a budding career as a motivational speaker. In 2016, I am going to be pursuing these goals with more vigor so there may be gaps in how often I write the Vancouver Voyageur. I am not deserting you yet though.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Have a very Merry Christmas and may all your dreams come true in 2016.

Karen Magill

Monday, December 7, 2015

Margaret Joan Sinclair Trudeau

Our new Prime Minister - Justin Trudeau - has a Vancouver connection. His mother, Margaret Joan Sinclair Trudeau, was born here on September 10, 1948.

Margaret's parents were Doris Kathleen (nee Bernard) and James Sinclair. James was a former liberal member of the Parliament of Canada and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.In 1952, the family moved to Ottawa but returned to North Vancouver in 1958 when James lost his re-election bid.

Margaret graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1969 with a bachelor of arts in sociology.

At the age of 18, Margaret was on vacation in Tahiti with her family when she met the man who was to create her destiny - the Minister of Justice, Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Margaret didn't recognize him and thought little of the meeting. Pierre, however, was smitten with the flower child that was thirty years younger than him, and began to pursue her.

Trudeau was still a bachelor when he was appointed Prime Minister in 1968 and he and Margaret kept their romance hidden. That is until the country was shocked when 51-year-old Pierre married the 22-year-old Margaret in a private ceremony in North Vancouver. Due to the age difference, some eyebrows rose, and tongues were wagging but it seemed to fit with the Prime Minister's progressive views and youthful vigor.

Pierre was Catholic when he and Margaret wed so she converted to Roman Catholicism. Later in life, she studied Buddhism though now she considers herself to be Anglican.  When asked about her role in a marriage to the Prime Minister, Margaret stated, "I want to be more than a rose in my husband's lapel."

Apparently, Mrs. Trudeau had some difficulty adjusting to her new role. "From the day I became Mrs. Pierre Elliott Trudeau," she writes in her memoirs, "a glass panel was gently lowered into place around me, like a patient in a mental hospital who is no longer considered able to make decisions and who cannot be exposed to a harsh light." 

The couple had three children: Justin (born December 25, 1971), Alexandre (Sacha) (born December 25, 1973), and Michel (October 2, 1975 – November 13, 1998).

Pierre and Margaret appeared to have a very close and loving relationship at first. But the marriage soon began to fall apart. Margaret resented being left alone to basically raise three boys on her own while Pierre was away on work-related absences. Her high profile position brought extensive publicity but Mrs. Trudeau created her own episodes.

Margaret smuggled drugs in the prime minister's luggage, made scantily clad appearances at Studio 54, and tore apart a quilt work made by Canadian conceptual artist Joyce Wieland that hung on the wall in the prime minister's official residence in Ottawa because it celebrated "reason over passion".

Thanks to Wikipedia for the above information. Wednesday, I will tell you more about this lady who was also known as 'Canada's Wild Child'.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wrapping up 49

December 23, Vancouver's Seaforth Highlanders held a farewell parade for their retiring commanding officer, Lt-Col D.M. Clark. Part of the ceremony included an inspection by Brig. J.M. Rockingham of the Seaforth's ski company. These special troops would train on Mount Seymour.

On December 29, 1949, a strange thing happened. The leaders of the Polar Bear swim club put out a box called 'The Thing' in English Bay. On January 1, 1951, it was brought to shore - during the annual Polar Bear swim - and opened. Inside was an effigy of Stalin, which was ceremoniously burned.

1949 had other things occur.

The radio station, CKNW moved from 1230 on the dial to 1320.

The 1949 thriller, Johnny Stool Pigeon, starring Howard Duff, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea and Tony Curtis, among others, told of international drug dealers tracked to their downtown Vancouver lair by a heroic U.S. Treasury agent. One of the few American movies that used Vancouver as a backdrop and set the story to actually take place here.

One of the big hit songs of 1949, There's A Bluebird on Your Windowsill was written by a Vancouver nurse, Elizabeth Clarke. It became the first song written by a Canadian to sell a million copies.  This was also an "indie" recording - Mrs. Clarke spent $600 of her own money to record the song.

In 1949, S.V. Smith became president of the Vancouver Real Estate Board.

1949 was also the year Charles Edwin Thompson became mayor of Vancouver. Thompson was born on May 17, 1890 in Grey County, Ontario.

Donna Jean McKinnon writes Thompson “was a teacher, rancher, automotive dealer, and from 1945 to 1948 an alderman. His apparently contradictory combination of progressive and regressive policies make him a hard character to pin down. He felt that improvements to public transit, roadways and sewer lines and efforts to equalize civic taxes should be provided to law-abiding and politically correct citizens. However, civil liberties were impaired during his term through a policy requiring all civic employees to be screened for communist sympathies.”

I wrote on Thompson and his term as mayor in this 2011 blog entry if you want to read more.

Writer George Woodcock, was born in Winnipeg and moved to BC in 1949.  He first published a collection of poems in 1938 when he was 26 and his final book, published in 1994, was a history of B.C. Woodcock wrote a biography of George Orwell called The Crystal Spirit won the Governor General's Award for non-fiction in 1966. His writings on anarchism were well-received. In total, George Woodcock gave the world 120 books.

Clyde Gilmour was born in Calgary on June 8, 1912 and in 1949, he began writing film and music reviews for the Vancouver Sun, a position he had held with CBC radio in Vancouver since 1947. He stayed with both jobs until 1954 when he went East to earn national fame.

Thanks to The History of Metropolitan Vancouver website for the above information.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

Karen Magill