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Alone at the Top
The Path to Power
Leading Canada
Private Life
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Banner: First Among Equals Pierre Elliott Trudeau banner
Pierre Elliott Trudeau.


A prime minister in disguise

Pierre Trudeau has a reputation as Canada's most flamboyantly dressed prime minister. More than once in his life his unusual taste in clothing has landed him in hot water. While at university during the war, he came across some nineteenth-century German military uniforms in the attic of a friend. Trudeau and his pal decided it would be a great joke to visit some friends dressed up as Prussian officers. They roared off on motorcycles with the pointed steel helmets on their heads, startling all those they met on the road!

While backpacking in the Middle East in 1948, Trudeau adopted the local costume and grew a beard. So well did he blend in with the inhabitants that he was mistaken for a Jewish spy by Arab soldiers in Jerusalem! Only the intervention of a Roman Catholic priest spared Trudeau from being charged with espionage, a crime punishable by death!

After he became an M.P. in 1965, Trudeau often upset his conservatively-dressed colleagues in the House of Commons with his casual attire. His long hair, sandals and loosely-tied cravat were definitely beyond the usual standards of dress in Parliament, and he was upbraided for them by former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker!

Source: Canada's Prime Ministers, 1867 - 1994: Biographies and Anecdotes. [Ottawa]: National Archives of Canada, [1994]. 40 p.

Trudeau: main page

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