Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
Townspeople bid farewell to 'a prophet of our time'
By SHAWN McCARTHY
The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, October 3, 2000
LIMOGES, ONT. -- Aurele Constanteau celebrated on Parliament Hill on April 20, 1968, the day Pierre Trudeau was sworn in as Canada's 15th prime minister.
Yesterday, he stood solemnly by the Via Rail tracks in this village 40 kilometres east of Ottawa to bid farewell to his hero.
Mr. Constanteau, the chief of the village fire department, organized 200 people, mainly schoolchildren, who gathered in the parking lot of the Limoges Hotel to get a glimpse of the funeral train that carried the body of Mr. Trudeau from Ottawa to Montreal.
For this largely francophone community, Mr. Trudeau represents a defender of the faith, a politician of mythic stature who helped entrench the French fact outside Quebec and stood up to the separatists in that province.
"He's a hero to everybody all across Canada, whether it was French, English, he had no barriers on language," said Mr. Constanteau, a former security guard on Parliament Hill. "He united Canada as we see it today."
Flying from a crane borrowed from a local contractor was a Canadian flag that had once flown over the Peace Tower.
Rev. Broni Puchala, the local parish's Roman Catholic priest, led the group in prayer, calling Mr. Trudeau "a prophet of our time."
As the funeral train rumbled by, Mr. Constanteau saluted and his three-man fire department honour guard dipped their colour: the Ontario flag, the Maple Leaf and the green-and-white trillium and Fleur-de-lis of the franco-Ontarian.
Carol Hupé brought his Grade 7 class from Saint Viateur school.
Mr. Hupé said his students were vaguely aware of Mr. Trudeau's place in Canadian history, but witnessing the train would make the subject more meaningful for them.