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Trudeaumania sweeps Parliament Hill in 1968

The Story

(Note: This clip has no audio.) A group of swooning women, men, children and reporters hoping to meet the new prime minister waits outside Parliament in May 1968. Trudeau draws fans like a celebrity, lending credibility to the phenomenon called Trudeaumania. He ducks out the side door but the fans are already there waiting. One young blond woman leans over and kisses him on the mouth. As he's walking away, teenaged girls follow. One grabs his hand. That's about all Trudeau can take. He starts running away as the teenagers chase the wildly popular politician.

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: May 2, 1968
Duration: 1:27

Did You know?

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines Trudeaumania as "widespread popularity and fascination with ... Trudeau among the Canadian public, especially during the election campaign of 1968." The term, named after Beatlemania, compares fitful Beatles fans to Trudeau's admirers.

• In 1968, Canadian Press reporter Ken Clark lost dozens of notepad sheets to women looking for paper for Trudeau's autograph. (For more on Trudeaumania, see the topic Trudeaumania: A Swinger for Prime Minister.  

• Though the press often focused on Trudeau's young female fans, men and women of all ages were caught up in the Trudeau frenzy. On June 30, 1968, the Globe and Mail described a recent Liberal rally in Toronto: "As always, the great majority of those who held out their hands for the Prime Ministerial touch were from the teenybopper class, though a fair number of enthusiasts old enough to be their grandparents were not far behind in seeking the laying on of hands."

• A May 1968 Globe and Mail article described the popularity of funky Trudeau posters bearing slogans like "Pierre Power," as well as other hot-selling Trudeau merchandise ranging from drinking glasses to ashtrays. One purveyor of Trudeau posters explained, "This isn't a political thing with me. I'd make posters of my kneecap if they'd sell. But Pierre's what's moving at the moment, and that's what we're selling. It's all part of over-all Trudeaumania."

• In Trudeau's Memoirs, published in 1993, he was quite modest when he looked back on "Trudeaumania": "I had to believe... that the phenomenon was part of the spirit of the times. We had just come out of the Centennial celebrations; the year before had seen the remarkable success of Expo 67. The mood of the country was still one of festivity, and I happened to be there to profit from it. Of course, I wasn't about to complain!"

• Many Canadians, however, weren't wowed by Trudeau's charisma. In the Globe and Mail letters section in 1968, numerous readers took the editors to task for getting caught up in Trudeaumania. One reader wrote of his extreme disappointment that the paper seemed to be abandoning its conservative ideals to support the young, swinging Trudeau: "Now you throw caution to the wind and are going to follow the emotional hysteria of a younger generation. We are switching to the Telegram."

• By the time Trudeau married Margaret Sinclair, in 1971, the Trudeaumania phenomenon had essentially come to an end.



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