Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
In time, search will begin for a permanent memorial
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
OTTAWA -- When the thousands of red roses around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill have withered and are carted off, federal officials will begin to turn their attention to erecting a permanent memorial to Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
"Nobody has even begun to think about that question yet. We are still dealing with funeral ceremonies," Randy McCauley, a spokesman for Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, said yesterday.
"Whatever is done will be done in close consultation with Mr. Trudeau's family. But it is too soon to have that sort of discussion," Mr. McCauley said.
Len Westerberg, a spokesman for Canadian Heritage, the federal department that deals with questions of protocol and memorials, said there has been no shortage of suggestions from the public and from commentators.
Suggestions range from renaming Dorval Airport in Montreal -- the Toronto international airport is named for Mr. Trudeau's immediate predecessor, Lester Pearson -- to placing a statue of Mr. Trudeau paddling on an island in the centre of the Ottawa River between Quebec and Ontario to commemorate his love of the outdoors and Canada's duality.
Provincial and municipal levels of government may also want to memorialize Mr. Trudeau in the names of schools or other public buildings.
Parliament Hill might seem like an obvious spot for a statue.
But the Hill is becoming overpopulated; no fewer than 15 bronze figures dot the landscape.
Tory firebrand John Diefenbaker strides out of the West.
His political nemesis, Mr. Pearson, a Liberal, looks over his shoulder from the comfort of an easy chair.
There is no obvious promontory remaining for a Pierre Trudeau statue.
Not all of the late prime ministers are present on the Hill. For example, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, who governed for 15 months, has no statue. (He got something better, a Senate seat.)
Not all of the Parliament Hill statues are even of Canadian prime ministers.
A youthful Queen Elizabeth rides a horse near the East Block. Queen Victoria still reigns near the West Block.
George Brown, a Father of Confederation and the founding publisher of this newspaper, keeps watch over a side entrance to the parliamentary library.
Another of the Fathers, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, who was assassinated the year after Confederation, has a perch of his own nearby.
There is even a statue of a mythic literary character, brave Sir Galahad, a knight of Arthur's Round Table.
It was erected by the federal government to commemorate the heroism of Henry Harper, a local man who was swept away in the icy Ottawa River in December of 1901 trying to save a woman from drowning.
Mr. Trudeau is already memorialized inside the Centre Block. An oil portrait by artist Myfanwy Spencer Pavelic has hung in a second-floor corridor near the Hall of Honour for several years.
But it is not a spot easily accessible to visitors.
Like the families of most deceased prime ministers, the Trudeau family has indicated it wants his gravesite to be private.
Whatever is eventually done to formally commemorate Mr. Trudeau's life will be appropriate, permanent and on view for Canadians at all times, officials say.