Trudeau slides down a banister

Above photo by Ted Grant, shot in 1968, is a classic of Canadian photojournalism. Pierre Trudeau was running to succeed Lester Pearson as Liberal party leader, and prime minister. The press corps waited outside as Trudeau left Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel. Grant however was inside, and heading down the stairs in front of Trudeau when he heard laughter. Turning around, he saw Trudeau sliding down the railing. Of three photos he took of that moment, only one was in-focus. “The third one, he was practically on top of me,” Grant recalled.

The photo began Trudeaumania. Before it fizzled out after 1971 with the prime minister’s rocky marraige to Margaret Sinclair, Trudeaumania would define an energetic and nonconformist generation and propel Trudeau to three election victories.

Allegedly bisexual,Trudeau dated celebrities — including Barbara Steisand and Margot Kidder — and invited John Lennon and Yoko Ono to his office. A racy bachelor with penchant for flowers in his lapel, fast sportcars, judo and scarves, he wooed Canada with his irreverent, “un-Canadianly immodest” behavior. He did a pirouette behind the back of Queen Elizabeth II, and also slid down banisters at Buckingham Palace and Marlborough House. He wore sandals to the parliament and accused of using obscenities inside the parliament once. He waved his middle finger at protestors.

Socially liberal and high-living, Trudeau was staunchly nationalistic and internationalist. He crushed a violent separatist movement in his native province of Quebec (once he stared down an attacker), while promoting French language and Francophone minority. With his attempts to form close relations with China and Cuba, his nonchalance for NATO and quixotic campaigns for world peace and nuclear disarmament, Trudeau remained a constant thorn for the White House.

9 thoughts on “Trudeau slides down a banister

  1. What a great shot, and a very interesting character. While I am familiar with the name, I had no idea of Trudeau’s story. I could not imagine in a million years someone like this making a political splash in the USA, although he would certainly get my vote!

  2. He added more debt, more government staff, more departments then any PM before him. He destroyed out military, brought in expensive racist, discriminatory bilingual and multicultural programs only outside Quebec. He allowed the English language to be banned in Quebec under his watch, al la bills 22, 178, 101.(this was all planned, with Levesque, Marchand, Pelltier, Chretein, Oulette.)He destroyed out proud and founding BNA act by forcing the charter of wrongs and restrictions on the country. Trudeau was the worst prime minister this country has ever seen.I could go on for hours with how much damage this man did to Canada. The mess this country is in today is because of him and the clowns who followed for not repealing Trudeaus mess.

    • Trudeau was one of Canada’s better Prime Ministers. He kicked off the transformation of Canada from a WASPish patriarchal society with a provincial mindset, to one that allows women and the marginalized equal footing in public and economic life.

  3. Gee nice photo! It was a one shot image with a manual focus Leica camera & lens!!!!! On Tri-X film pushed to ASA 800!


    Thank you very much. I’d be very pleased if some one answered my question. Thank you very much.

    Dr. ted


  4. I slid down that banister during the after party of the OTTAWA ROUGH RIDERS 1960 Grey Cup victory. No politics involved. Just lots of beer. Ronnie Stewart Russ Jackson and Dave Thelen,were around.. Then on to the underground to see and hear Jack MacParltand.. Goods times.

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