Montreal's Hillary Clinton fans look forward to seeing 'the one who took the first step'

When Caroline Zuttel heard Hillary Clinton was going to be vacationing in the Eastern Townships, she drove there to deliver a letter thanking her "for everything she went through."

Expect a forum-style talk, says McGill student who worked on campaign

Hillary Clinton speaks to an audience in Toronto promoting her new book "What Happened" in September. Monday, she will do the same in Montreal. (Christopher Katsarov/Canadian Press)

When Caroline Zuttel heard Hillary Clinton was going to be vacationing in the Eastern Townships, she felt this was her opportunity to thank her. 

The Nun's Island marketing consultant wrote a heartfelt letter, jumped in her car and made the hour-and-a-half drive to North Hatley, where the Clintons were staying. 

"She went through so much s**t for all of us as women that, yeah, I was like I want to thank her for everything she went through," Zuttel told CBC, noting she hand delivered her message to the Clintons' security staff. 

When Clinton released her book, Zuttel had rushed to pick up a copy before heading on vacation to Jamaica, where she spent much of her time poring over its pages.

'Forever the one who took the first step'

So, you can imagine what Zuttel did when she found out Clinton would be speaking about it in Montreal Monday.

"For me, the minute I heard she was coming to Montreal, I was like, yeah, of course I'm coming."

Hillary Rodham Clinton prepares to sign copies of her book "What Happened" at a book store in New York, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (Seth Wenig/Associated Press)

Despite being a native Montrealer with little ties to the U.S., Zuttel kept her eyes peeled on the country's 2016 federal election. It wasn't just about choosing a new leader to her, but about women's rights. 

In her letter, Zuttel said she wrote "that the glass ceiling didn't break this time, but the day it will break, she will forever be the one who took the first step."

'I want to be secretary of state when I grow up'

Claire Rawson Dannenbaum, too, feels Clinton's loss was still a step forward for women. 

"I want to be secretary of state when I grow up and she has broken so many glass ceilings … that I won't have to break," said Dannenbaum, who at 18 is a political science honours student in her second year at McGill.

Dannenbaum says she was raised in Los Angeles by two moms "in an interracial, Jewish family" and is a Democrat "through and through."

Monday, she'd like to hear from Hillary about "what she hopes her actions mean for the next generation" and what led her to want to take that campaign on.

On election night, Dannenbaum gathered with fellow Democrats Abroad members in a viewing party at McGill, organized under the assumption Clinton would be breaking the proverbial glass ceiling — as well as the literal one her campaign installed.

It soon became clear that wouldn't happen yet, but Dannenbaum says she and her peers immediately began mobilizing.

"What can we start doing now to bring some sanity into our government?" she says they asked themselves. "We've really been doing everything we can to ease the pain."

What to expect at the talk, according to student who worked on campaign

Alex Goldman, a 22-year-old history major at McGill, dropped everything to join the Hillary campaign two years ago and he's still reflecting on it, and the heartbreak that came with Clinton's loss. 

Goldman will be at the talk Monday evening with a group of friends and fellow Clinton supporters from McGill.

"It was the single hardest work I've ever done and the single most fulfilled I've ever felt," Goldman said of working on the campaign. 

Alex Goldman, wearing the blue shirt to Hillary Clinton's right, worked as an organizer on the 2016 campaign. (Submitted by Alex Goldman)

"It felt like we were building the world we wanted to live in — a world of inclusivity and diversity," he said. "What was so traumatic about the campaign was that on Nov. 8 [2016], that world that we were preparing to live in … disappeared."

But Clinton's careful steps back into the public eye, to Goldman, "it feels like a glimmer of that world again."

He says those lucky enough to have gotten tickets to Clinton's talk can expect a relatively intimate setting, with Clinton "sitting on the stage, talking to the audience about her thoughts on the election."

He says "the biggest tragedy" of her loss is that the world won't have known Clinton the way he and his colleagues did because of how she was portrayed in the media and by her opponents, and critics.

"I feel like for most of the campaign, the American public didn't really pay attention to the content of her ideas," he says.

with files from CBC Montreal Daybreak and Cecilia MacArthur