Lethbridge’s Ralph Harris has a rare piece of memorabilia, and the story of how he got it is quite unique. On July 22 1972, while on a CP Rail train, Harris was awoken by an RCMP officer.
“We were taken aback by it a bit,” said Harris. “Because we were used to a call boy coming and knocking on the door.”
But Harris quickly found out why the extra security was necessary.
“There was a private coach on the head end, and out of the coach comes the prime minister of Canada,” said Harris.
Pierre Trudeau was in Medicine Hat, on Harris’s train. He quickly sprung to action.
“I said, ‘would you take me back? I’d like to get their autograph,’” said Harris.
And right there on the CP Rail train order, Harris got Trudeau’s signature, along with his wife Margaret’s, who was holding young Justin.
“He was in a pouch on his mother’s chest,” said Harris.
Fast forward 41 years, that little baby was paving his own political path, visiting Lethbridge during the Federal Liberal leadership race. And Harris’s wife, Irene, took advantage.
“I just shot up there and asked him,” said Irene, “do you think you could autograph this? He says, ‘oh, no problem.’ So that’s how we got Justin on there.”
And when the younger Trudeau was sworn in as Canada’s 23rd prime minister, the old train order gained even more significance.
“I’ve got the father, who’s the prime minister, I’ve got the son who’s the prime minister today. Now how many people have that on the same page?”
And what the Harris’ will do with their little piece of history?
“We’ll see. We’ll see. I’ll let you know,” said Harris with a smile.