Margaret Trudeau

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Margaret Trudeau
Margaret Trudeau bandana.jpg
Trudeau in 2015
Spouse of the Prime Minister of Canada
In role
March 4, 1971 May 27, 1977 (separated)
Preceded by Maryon Pearson
Succeeded by Maureen McTeer
Personal details
Margaret Joan Sinclair

(1948-09-10) 10 September 1948 (age 70)
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Pierre Trudeau
(m. 1971;div. 1984)

Fried Kemper
(m. 1984;div. 1999)
ChildrenFive; including Justin, Alexandre, and Michel Trudeau
Parents James Sinclair
Kathleen Bernard

Margaret Joan Trudeau (néeSinclair, formerly Kemper; born September 10, 1948) is a Canadian author, actress, photographer, former television talk show hostess, and social advocate for people with bipolar disorder, which she is diagnosed with. She is the former wife of Pierre Trudeau, 15th Prime Minister of Canada; they divorced in 1984, during his final months in office. She is the mother of Justin Trudeau, who has been the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada since 2015; the journalist and author Alexandre "Sacha" Trudeau; [1] and the deceased Michel Trudeau. She is the first woman in Canadian history to have been both the wife of a prime minister and the mother of a prime minister.

Bipolar disorder mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood

Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that causes periods of depression and periods of abnormally elevated mood. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania, depending on its severity, or whether symptoms of psychosis are present. During mania, an individual behaves or feels abnormally energetic, happy, or irritable. Individuals often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced during manic phases. During periods of depression, there may be crying, a negative outlook on life, and poor eye contact with others. The risk of suicide among those with the illness is high at greater than 6 percent over 20 years, while self-harm occurs in 30–40 percent. Other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and substance use disorder are commonly associated with bipolar disorder.

Pierre Trudeau 15th Prime Minister of Canada

Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, often referred to by the initials PET, was a Canadian politician who served as the 15th prime minister of Canada. He was the third longest-serving prime minister in Canadian history, having served for 15 years, 164 days.

Prime Minister of Canada Head of government for Canada

The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and Canada's head of government. The current, and 23rd, Prime Minister of Canada is the Liberal Party's Justin Trudeau, following the 2015 Canadian federal election. Canadian prime ministers are styled as The Right Honourable, a privilege maintained for life.


Early years

Trudeau was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the daughter of Scottish-born James "Jimmy" Sinclair, a former Liberal member of the Parliament of Canada and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Doris Kathleen (Bernard) Sinclair. [2] Her grandmother, Rose Edith (Ivens) Bernard, with whom Trudeau had an especially-close relationship, lived in Roberts Creek, British Columbia, in later life, and was from Virden, Manitoba. [3] Her grandfather, Thomas Kirkpatrick Bernard, was born in Makassar, Sulawesi, Indonesia, and immigrated in 1906 at age 15 with his family to Penticton, British Columbia, eventually working as a payroll clerk for Canadian Pacific Railway. [4]

Vancouver City in British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city, up from 603,502 in 2011. The Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 in 2016, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada with over 5,400 people per square kilometre, which makes it the fifth-most densely populated city with over 250,000 residents in North America behind New York City, Guadalajara, San Francisco, and Mexico City according to the 2011 census. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada according to that census; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. Roughly 30% of the city's inhabitants are of Chinese heritage. Vancouver is classed as a Beta global city.

James Sinclair (politician) Canadian politician and businessman

James "Jimmy" Sinclair, was a Canadian politician and businessman. He was the maternal grandfather of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Parliament of Canada the federal legislative branch of Canada

The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the national capital. The body consists of the Canadian monarch, represented by a viceroy, the Governor General; an upper house, the Senate; and a lower house, the House of Commons. Each element has its own officers and organization. By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate and monarch rarely opposing its will. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint and the monarch or viceroy provides royal assent to make bills into law.

The Bernards were the descendants of colonists in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia, including Francis James Bernard, a London, England-born Anglo-Irishman whose great-grandfather, Arthur Bernard, was a member of the Irish House of Commons for Bandonbridge, and brother of Francis Bernard, Solicitor-General for Ireland, and ancestor of the Earls of Bandon. [5] [6] Francis James Bernard was the founder of the Singapore Police Force in 1819, The Singapore Chronicle, the first newspaper in Singapore, was established with Bernard as owner, publisher, and editor in 1824 [7] and he opened up Katong, now a densely populated-residential enclave, the first to cultivate a coconut estate there in 1823. Bernard married Margaret Trudeau's 3rd great-grandmother, Esther Farquhar, in 1818, the eldest daughter of Scotsman William Farquhar, a colonial leader in the founding of modern Singapore, by Farquhar's first wife, Antoinette "Nonio" Clement, daughter of a French father and an ethnic Malaccan mother. [8] [9]

Singapore Republic in Southeast Asia

Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom, as well as the largest city within the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Anglo-Irish people ethnic group in Ireland

Anglo-Irish is a term which was more commonly used in the 19th and early 20th centuries to identify a social class in Ireland, whose members are mostly the descendants and successors of the English Protestant Ascendancy. They mostly belong to the Anglican Church of Ireland, which was the established church of Ireland until 1871, or to a lesser extent one of the English dissenting churches, such as the Methodist church, though some were Roman Catholics. Its members tended to follow English practices in matters of culture, science, law, agriculture and politics, but often defined themselves as simply "Irish" or "British", and rarely "Anglo-Irish" or "English". Many became eminent as administrators in the British Empire and as senior army and naval officers. Others were prominent Irish nationalists.

Another great-grandmother, Cornelia Louisa Intveld, married in 1822 to Royal Navy officer and merchant, William Purvis, from Dalgety Bay, Scotland, and a first cousin of American abolitionist Robert Purvis; a noted fine soprano and a beauty of her era. [10] Upon glimpsing her across the auditorium at the opera in London, England, British King William IV sent his equerry to invite her to his box. After she refused, the King sent the equerry back just to ask her name. [11] Intveld was born in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia, where her father, who came from humble beginnings in Hellevoetsluis, South Holland, rose up through the Dutch East India Company to become the Dutch Resident of Padang. Her maternal grandmother was an Ono Niha ranee (a term covering every rank from chieftain's daughter to princess) married a prominent Dutch colonial official and merchant. [12] Acclaimed British harpsichordist, Violet Gordon-Woodhouse, and Hawaiian settler, Edward William Purvis, according to popular belief, was the namesake of the ukulele, are Margaret Trudeau's first cousins, three times-removed. [11] Trudeau explored her mother's family's roots in Singapore during an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? .

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Dalgety Bay coastal town in Fife, Scotland

Dalgety Bay is a coastal town and parish in Fife, Scotland, on the coast of Scotland. According to Fife Council, the town is home to 10,030, making this the eighth-largest place in Fife. The civil parish has a population of 10,777. Dalgety Bay is part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region.

Robert Purvis abolitionist

Robert Purvis was an American abolitionist in the United States. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and was likely educated at Amherst Academy, a secondary school in Amherst, Massachusetts. He then spent most of his life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1833 he helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society and the Library Company of Colored People. From 1845–1850 he served as president of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and also traveled to Britain to gain support for the movement.

Trudeau's family moved to a large house in Rockcliffe Park, Ontario, in 1952 after her father was appointed to the Cabinet, and she attended Rockcliffe Park government school [13] although they returned to North Vancouver after he lost his re-election bid in 1958. She attended Hamilton Junior Secondary School and Delbrook Senior Secondary School in North Vancouver. Trudeau graduated in 1969 from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. [14]

Rockcliffe Park, Ontario Neighbourhood in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Rockcliffe Park is a neighbourhood in Rideau-Rockcliffe Ward, close to the centre of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1864, organized as a Police village in 1908, and an independent village from 1926, and ultimately amalgamated with the rest of Ottawa on January 1, 2001. As of 2011, it had a population of 2,021. In 1977 the entire village of Rockcliffe Park was designated a Heritage Conservation District. Rockcliffe Park is one of only a handful of surviving nineteenth-century communities of its kind in North America.

Delbrook Senior Secondary was a public high school from 1957 to 1977 in the District of North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, part of School District 44 North Vancouver.

Simon Fraser University Public research university in British Columbia, Canada

Simon Fraser University (SFU) is a public research university in British Columbia, Canada, with three campuses: Burnaby, Surrey, and Vancouver. The 170-hectare (420-acre) main Burnaby campus on Burnaby Mountain, located 20 kilometres (12 mi) from downtown Vancouver, was established in 1965 and comprises more than 30,000 students and approximately 950 faculty members. The Burnaby campus is on the territory of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and Kwikwetlem First Nations; the Vancouver campus is on Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam territories; and the Surrey campus is on territories shared by the Kwiketlem, Musqueam, Katzie, Kwantlen, Qayqayt, and Stó:lō peoples.

Marriage to Pierre Trudeau

As an 18-year-old vacationing in Tahiti with her family, she met Pierre Trudeau, who was then Minister of Justice. Sinclair did not recognize him, and she, in fact, thought little of their encounter, but Trudeau was captivated by the carefree "flower child", nearly-thirty years younger than he, and began to pursue her.

Tahiti Largest island of French Polynesia in central Southern Pacific Ocean

Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia. The island is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the central Southern Pacific Ocean; it is divided into two parts: the bigger, northwestern part, Tahiti Nui, and the smaller, southeastern part, Tahiti Iti. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 189,517 inhabitants, making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

Flower child

Flower child originated as a synonym for hippie, especially among the idealistic young people who gathered in San Francisco and the surrounding area during the Summer of Love in 1967. It was the custom of "flower children" to wear and distribute flowers or floral-themed decorations to symbolize ideals of universal belonging, peace, and love. The mass media picked up on the term and used it to refer in a broad sense to any hippie. Flower children were also associated with the flower power political movement, which originated in ideas written by Allen Ginsberg in 1965.

Pierre Trudeau was a bachelor before he became Prime Minister in 1968. They kept their romance private, so Canada was shocked after the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation led its morning radio broadcast [15] about Prime Minister Trudeau honeymooning at Alta Lake, British Columbia, at the foot of Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort [16] [17] the day after a surprise wedding in North Vancouver, British Columbia, on March 4, 1971. [18] Although she previously-accompanied Pierre Trudeau in public a year before to ice skate and dance at an event at Rideau Hall, official residence of Canada's Governor General, [15] 'it' was a complete secret except to immediate-family members and close friends that she was in a romantic relationship, then in a six-month engagement to the Prime Minister. [15] [18]

As Pierre Trudeau was a Catholic, she converted to Roman Catholicism for their marriage. She would, in later life, study Buddhism although she now considers herself an Anglican. Asked about her role in a marriage to the prime minister, Trudeau said, "I want to be more than a rose in my husband's lapel."

In 1971, the Trudeaus took a second honeymoon in the Caribbean to Barbados and an unidentified nearby-island [19] then Tobago, then to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (including both Bequia and St. Vincent) with Pierre taking a side-trip to Trinidad while Margaret stayed in Tobago. [20]

After Pierre Trudeau's government's near defeat in 1972 where Margaret herself was very-uninvolved in the campaign, she decided to become much more active for the 1974 federal election. At a rally in Vancouver, she told a crowd of 2,000 her husband taught her "a lot about loving." The remark was wildly-mocked and dismissed in public during the campaign by members of the press gallery as well as by her husband's main-political rivals Progressive Conservative Party of Canada leader Robert Stanfield and New Democratic Party leader David Lewis. Liberal party organizers considered her a top campaign asset, and sent her off alone to help local candidates in hotly contested ridings while critics noted, the wives of Stanfield and Lewis were on the campaign trail, they rarely spoke and stood behind their husbands at events. Political observers also found Pierre Trudeau noticeably more relaxed at events while Margaret came along. Initially, she brought her 6-month-old son Sasha on the trail with her, and one veteran reporter said, "It's the first campaign plane for the first thing off is a crib and a diaper bag." Later, she left her sons with her parents in North Vancouver while campaigning. Asked at the time if she thought her campaigning was helping Pierre Trudeau pick up votes, she replied, "I won't know until July 8th. But 52 per cent of the voters in this country are awful lot ..." [21] Her husband's party returned to a majority-government.

Trudeau had difficulty adjusting to her new position."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 no longer considered able to make decisions and cannot be exposed to a harsh light." [22] The couple had three children: Justin (born December 25, 1971), Alexandre (Sacha) (born December 25, 1973), and Michel (October 2, 1975 – November 13, 1998).

Margaret Trudeau (third from left) at the White House in 1977, alongside her husband Pierre, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter TrudeausAndCartersWavingFromTheWhiteHouse.gif
Margaret Trudeau (third from left) at the White House in 1977, alongside her husband Pierre, Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter

Although the couple initially appeared to have a very close and loving relationship, the marriage soon began to fall apart. Trudeau resented her husband's constant work-related absences, and was forced to raise her three young sons largely by herself. Beyond the normal extensive publicity her high-profile position brought, in a few instances, she headlined. Trudeau smuggled drugs in the prime minister's luggage, made scantily-clad appearances at Studio 54, and tore apart a quilt made by Canadian conceptual artist Joyce Wieland [23] on the wall in the prime-minister's official residence in Ottawa because it celebrated "reason over passion". [24] (Her husband's personal motto was "Reason before passion".) [25]

Over time, the marriage disintegrated [26] to the point, as recounted in her book, Trudeau had an affair with US Senator Ted Kennedy. She was also associated with members of the Rolling Stones, including Ronnie Wood [27] and, according to Keith Richards's autobiography, Life, Mick Jagger. [28] [27]

She separated from her husband in 1977, and became a much-talked-about jet-setter. [29] She gave many "tell-all" interviews to Canadian and American magazines, and appeared in two motion pictures. Pierre Trudeau won custody of the children and did not pay any spousal support. Trudeau had a difficult time earning a living after her marriage. She wrote the book Beyond Reason about her marriage.

On the eve of the 1979 election, in which Pierre Trudeau's party lost the majority of seats in the House of Commons, she was seen dancing at Studio 54 nightclub in New York City. A photo of her at the disco was featured on many front pages across Canada. [30]

Divorce and second marriage

Trudeau filed at the Ontario Supreme Court for a no-fault divorce on November 16, 1983 [31] one which was finalized on April 2, 1984. On April 18, 1984, in the chambers of Judge Hugh Poulin, with her three sons attending, she married in a civil ceremony Ottawa real-estate developer Fried Kemper, with whom she had two children: son Kyle (born 1984); and daughter Alicia (born 1988). [32] [33] [29]

Later life

In November 1998, the Trudeaus' youngest son, Michel, an avid outdoorsman, was killed when an avalanche swept him to the bottom of British Columbia's Kokanee Lake. The loss of her son was devastating for Trudeau, and she suffered another major depressive episode that led to her second divorce. [34]

When Pierre Trudeau died in 2000, Margaret was at his bedside with their surviving sons Justin and Alexandre. [35] Speaking in 2010 about her marriage to Trudeau she said: "Just because our marriage ended didn't mean the love stopped." [36]

On October 19, 2015, her eldest son, Justin Trudeau, led the Liberal Party to a majority government, becoming the 23rd Prime Minister of Canada. During the campaign, she was involved, but avoided campaigning in public as the Harper campaign's main attack line against Justin was "Just Not Ready" and feared they would suggest her son was "so unready he needs his mummy." [37]

Work, advocacy and writing

Trudeau speaks at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2017 Margaret Trudeau at UFV 17 (31428779353) (cropped).jpg
Trudeau speaks at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2017

Today, Trudeau is the honorary president of WaterAid Canada, an Ottawa-based organization dedicated to helping the poorest communities in developing countries build sustainable water supply and sanitation services. [38] Trudeau visited Mali in 2014. [39]

On May 5, 2006, Trudeau announced she has bipolar disorder. [29] Since then, she advocated for reducing the social-stigma of mental illnessbipolar disorder in particularwith speaking engagements across North America. [33] [40] In May 2019, she presented the one-woman-show Certain Woman of an Age in Chicago as part of the city's Wellness Week. [41] She is an honorary patron of the Canadian Mental Health Association. [42]

Trudeau is the author of Changing My Mind, a book about her personal experience with bipolar disorder, published by HarperCollins Canada in 2010. [43]


In 2013, she received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Western Ontario in recognition of her work to combat mental illness. [44]



While still married to Pierre Trudeau, Margaret Trudeau had a brief acting career, appearing in two Canadian-produced films:


See also

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