21 Dec Lennons Travel to Ottawa to meet Canadian PM
On this day in 1969 John and Yoko boarded a train bound for Ottawa via Montreal, travelling from Toronto. He was accompanied by Ritchie Yorke, Ronnie Hawkins and John Brower, as well as personal assistants and security.
The purpose of this trip was to meet with the then-Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau and health minister John Munro on the following day, the 23rd December 1969. The Lennon’s arrived in Ottawa at 2am and immediately retired to the Chateau Champlain Hotel until their meeting at 11am. Scheduled for 30 minutes, the meeting ran overtime by 20 minutes and when asked why on their exit, Yoko replied that they had been enjoying the conversation and continued to call him a beautiful person. John was similarly impressed and stated that “if all politicians were like Mr Trudeau there would be world peace.”
The couple then met with John Munro for 2 hours, the subject of their discussion the possibility of a music festival organised with peace as its central theme at Mosport Park. This festival eventually reformed as the Toronto Rock ’n’ Roll Revival festival, organised in part, again, by Ritchie Yorke and was immortalised by Rolling Stone magazine as the second most important event in rock history.
Following these meetings, John and Yoko flew back to Toronto, then onto London, marking the end of their peace campaign in Canada for the time being. When asked why Lennon had chosen Canada to start the campaign, he said it was “because there’s a bit of hope here. Canada’s vibes are good. We like Canada, we like your image. We like the things you do.”
These meetings were John Lennon’s first with any world leader, and indeed set a new precedent for the power and influence of musicians as an instrument for social change. This is Lennon’s real legacy, enabling the musicians following his path to use their voice to make a difference to the world around them.