The Canadian Constitution Act
“While I was working as a graphic artist for a company in Toronto 1982, I was recognized as a Fine artist as well. I produced several oil paintings for the owner’s son who was a member of the House of Commons and who loved my painting’s style. I was privileged to be selected among other artists, to produce an oil painting of “The Canadian Constitution Act”. I was flown to Ottawa the day before the Queen’s arrival to the Parliament Hill and had official permission to take photographs while the stage had been prepared in front of the Parliament. Next day, Sunday, I was there again to watch the complete event of The Queen Elizabeth II’s Arrival and the signing of the Canadian Constitution with the then Prime minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau. My task was to photograph the total occasion in order to compose the painting.
Back to my home in Toronto that time, I started working on the painting size was about 32" x 46" and was given only 21 days to finish it. I had my baby son David who was less than one-year-old. So, he only received from me the very necessary needs, then I sat him with his toys listening to music with me while I was painting day and night.
The time came for the painting to be picked up and framed. It was heartrending for me to see it going away. Shortly after though, I was invited to the surprise party that had been arranged for Mr. Pierre E. Trudeau to receive the painting but I was too shy to accept the invitation.
Years went by and I always wished to have a quality photograph of the painting to replace the one I had taken with my humble camera back then. But I thought that was merely a dream. As I decided to move to Ottawa, I thought of visiting the National Art Gallery of Ontario before doing that. I was following the tour guide who had other tourists to explain to them this and that. From my responses on some of her comments on some paintings were in the gallery, she said to me “You have good observations for arts” I said “I am a fine artist” She asked for my name. Upon hearing it, she repeated it after me several times and said “Mona Youssef, it rings the bell!!” After posing and thinking, I learned from her that my name was in the Toronto Star news paper in an article about that party was arranged to present the painting to Mr. Trudeau. Upon hearing that, I became very delighted and excited! It even had motivated me more to obtain a good photograph of my painting; but how, where and when!? It was still a dream to me. Once in a while I had asked friends of how I could contact Mr. P. E. Trudeau, I only got laughed at and heard their comments saying “He is too busy and too arrogant to give attention to your request.” However, my inner feelings and understanding of Mr. Trudeau’s character were completely different. I have always believed in my heart that he was a very keen, intelligent and extremely knowledgeable person above norm and that was why perceived that way. He may appear arrogant yet, inward, he had the soft human feelings and the deep appreciation for spiritual matters and arts.
I moved to Ottawa and worked here and there but the idea was still growing in my mind. Of course, no one was able to direct me to how or where to take that photo! One day, in December, 1999, I decided to do it myself. I went through the phonebook and I started to call several numbers in the Parliament. As usual, one person had transferred me to the other and I had to introduce myself to each one of them explaining the reason of my call. Finally, I was given the phone number of Mr. Trudeau’s office. Let me be frank, I needed to take deep breaths and wrote down what I wanted to say to avoid stumbling over my words! Here is my first call and introduction:” Hello, Mr. Trudeau, my name is Mona Y and I am a fine artists who….. and calling to...........” He replied “my name is Trudeau but not the one you are looking for. I purchased this office from Mr. P. E. Trudeau and my name happened to be the same.” I asked “Would you happen to know, by any chance his phone number or where I could contact him?”
There, when my call needed extra deep breaths for the second attempt and introduction. “Hello, my name is Mona Youssef and I am a fine artist……and am calling to........... “In reply, the Secretary said that she would get back to me after consulting with Mr. Trudeau. Yes, finally, I contacted the real P. E. T.
In a few minutes, I answered the phone and it was the secretary giving me an appointment in two days to visit Mr. Trudeau’s house. She also had given me the name of a person who would be waiting for me. Yes, the dream came true! My husband and I took the new camera and excitingly drove to Montreal. The door was opened for us and there was my painting capturing it after 18 years! I felt like hugging it but acted as normal as possible. The painting looked so vibrant in colors as if was done yesterday. We took it to the balcony and got several photos of it and the day light was just perfect for photographing. Mr. Gerry Wall took us for a tour in the house and told me how much Mr. Trudeau was proud and loved this painting that he always hangs it here on this wall, so when his guests come up or down from these stairs, they would see it right in front of them. Garry also told me that Mr. P. E.T. had given his will to offer most of the paintings in his house to charities except few ones in which among them, my painting! I was so touched, felt great and honored to be able to add something valuable to someone’s life. I also felt that everything in his house carried such profound feelings in it! I too, was so much impressed by the size of the library in Mr. Trudeau’s house.
As we were leaving gratefully, Mr. Gerry Wall told me to pass by Mr. Trudeau’s office to receive a letter from him and explained the address to get there. The secretary kindly received us and gave me the letter of thanks. I asked her if it was possible to meet with Mr. Trudeau, she replied” He has a client right now in his office that it would take him a while plus he just came back from Germany, so by the time he finishes, I am sure he will be exhausted, we could have made arrangements if you asked prior to your visit”
I left back to Ottawa, feeling overjoyed but still wondering, did I actually make it? Was I really in his house? Do I really have a good photo of my painting in my camera now after 18 years! Did I truly, have a letter from Mr. Trudeau thanking me for the painting that he considered beautiful was so proud of to hang on his wall? It all seemed unreal in a beautiful dream that came true.
Yes, my feelings of Mr. Trudeau’s Character were true. He was completely the opposite of what some people thought of him! His rich knowledge, intelligent thinking ability and high education in addition to being deeply passionate made him looked above norm and perceived as he was. Pressure of life and heavy responsibilities can at times make us look different and carry ourselves differently but deep inside we might be totally the opposite!
In 2000, I was deeply grieved when we all lost Mr. P. E. Trudeau in death. I found myself writing poem in English for first time where I used to write only in my mother tong. The following is what I wrote in English and sent to the Family to offer my condolences:
The Red flower was standing, firm in its routs…. to provoke
Storms, Winds and Hardships, could not, before it.......... float
It kept on growing in passion, zeal and strength… of thoughts
Vitality, powerful image with tender feelings, influenced…. all
Among weeds surrounded, The Red Flower, loudly,. .spoke
To reason, listen, challenge, incite and make dreams…..float
To The Road of Patrician, its blossoms glowed …came forth
To lighten the dark field to a garden like, for us, you…..fought
Black, White, Yellow admired you, with their hearts, and souls
Your beautiful lively colors & brightness will never.. fade at all
Now, you are resting,...until the day you come back, adorned
Stand, among us, with all colors, in a garden, you’ll be adored
May the dew drops water you, bountifully, revive…...our hope
The hope of resurrection, through Jesus, will be brought forth
Mona Youssef, Canadian Fine artist
See The Canadian Constitution Act in
See The Canadian Constitution Act in
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