A local resident was taking pictures the day of Richard Nixon’s now famous quote about Justin Trudeau.
At a gala dinner in April, 1971, then U.S. President Richard Nixon focused on the prime minister’s son: “Tonight we’ll dispense with the formalities. I’d like to toast the future prime minister of Canada: to Justin Pierre Trudeau.”
At the time Onnig Cavoukian, known professionally as Cavouk, was a 26-year-old portrait photographer working for the family business.
“The president was addressing our parliament, while we took photos of Mrs. Nixon, with Margaret and Norah Michener at the Trudeau residence,” said Cavoukian who is now semi-retired in Parksville.
He said he “snapped the pictures of Maggie, Mrs. Trudeau, when I caught them relaxing with the other women.”
Onnig had resisted the Cavouk photo dynasty, but by 1971 he was well into a career that would see him shoot celebrities and more than 100 world leaders including the Shah of Iran, Indira Ghandi, Queen Elizabeth and Pope Paul VI.
The future Canadian prime minister was a well behaved four-month-old at the time and didn’t leave a big impression, but when he was hired again a couple years later he said “I remember Justin as a healthy, bubbly two-year-old.”
He took the original photos as Justin and young mom Margaret waited with the president’s wife Pat Nixon and the Governor General’s wife Norah Michener. A Cavouk portrait of Governor General Roland Michener was later used as a Canadian stamp.
Cavoukian realizes the historical connection, but brushes it off as one of many in his storied career. He said a local TV producer is working on getting him to Ottawa to try and recreate the family photos with the second generation of Trudeaus.