IPM welcomes Trudeaus to Walton - Sept. 28, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
One of the brightest jewels in the crown of last week’s International Plowing Match (IPM) in Walton was a visit from Justin and Sophie Trudeau and their children on Friday.
While the visit was late developing – the announcement was only made to the public the night before – hundreds came out to see Trudeau, who first tried his hand in the plowing fields and then spoke to those gathered around the main stage for the Queen of the Furrow competition speeches.
News broke around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night that the Trudeaus would be in Walton for the IPM. Their visit, however, would be brief, as the Prime Minister was scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko at 3 p.m. in Toronto.
IPM Chair Jacquie Bishop said that she and the executive committee had been writing letters and attempting to draw Trudeau for the IPM for years, but it wasn’t until Mrs. Nolan’s Grade 1/2 class from St. James Catholic School in Seaforth wrote two letters to Trudeau that he began to take notice.
The class was on hand on Friday and was able to meet the Prime Minister and have their picture taken with his family. Trudeau thanked them for their letters and their enthusiasm about the match.
Trudeau also spent some time on a red Massey-Ferguson tractor that belonged to John Ryan, grandson of host farmer Jack Ryan. Trudeau met with the Ryans that morning and then his family made their way to the plowing fields by way of a people-mover with the Ryans, Bishop and other VIP guests.
John, with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the Prime Minister and let him use his plow, withdrew himself from competitive plowing as a result, but his dad Joe says it was worth it.
Trudeau was coached on the fields by Brian McGavin, a champion plowman in his own right, who said that the Prime Minister impressed in the fields and kept it pretty straight.
While Trudeau was plowing, John Ryan came out and helped McGavin with his coaching duties, while also discussing his plow with Xavier, the Prime Minister’s nine-year-old son.
After the furrow was plowed, the Trudeaus made their way to the main stage, where the Queen of the Furrow contestant speeches were ongoing.
Trudeau congratulated all of the young ladies for their hard work and commitment before greeting them all personally.
Sophie also spoke to the women, saying that they “rock” and that she was so impressed with the quality of contestants in the competition.
Bishop, reflecting on the Trudeau visit, said it was so special to have the Prime Minister in Walton for the match. She said the family was so gracious and welcoming and it was the private moments with the Trudeaus that she will remember forever.
Whether it was the conversations between John and Xavier or Sophie putting Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan’s granddaughter to sleep on the people mover, Bishop says it was nice to be able to get up close and personal with the family.
Bishop also said that the Trudeaus were so great with the St. James students and she felt that was a very special part of the visit as well that those students will never forget.