Fluke meeting between former President and ex-Prime Minister in a Niagara Falls hotel lobby


Published May 12, 2023 at 10:48 am

Former American President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn enjoyed Niagara Falls during a July 1996 visit to celebrate their 50th anniversary. (Photo: Niagara Falls Public Library)

As comedian Stephen Wright once observed, “It’s a small world… but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.”

In July 1996, perhaps one of the most random meetings between former political allies took place in the lobby of a Niagara Falls hotel.

Former American President Jimmy Carter, who served from 1976 to 1980, and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who served from 1968 to 1979 and again from 1980 to 1984, accidentally crossed paths in their Niagara Falls’ hotel, the Ramada Renaissance.

Carter, then 71, and his wife Rosalynn had chosen to come to Niagara Falls, Ontario (aka the romance capital of the world) to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Jimmy Carter, left, and Pierre Trudeau, right, during an official visit to Washington while both were in office.

Trudeau, then 76, was simply in town to visit his granddaughter. At the time, his son and our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was a student in university.

Since the Carters had kept their visit low-key, neither had any idea the other was there, much less at the exact same time.

Their chance meeting happened as the Carters were returning from a day-long outing and Trudeau was leaving the hotel with his granddaughter for an excursion.

In the end, the two men sat down in the lobby for a 10-minute chat, no doubt filled with reminiscence of the time they both lead their countries simultaneously.

While in Niagara Falls, the Carters enjoyed the Maid of the Mist, the Journey Behind the Falls and also toured the Niagara Parks Commission’s much anticipated new attraction, the Butterfly Conservatory.

In addition, they enjoyed a leisurely stroll in Niagara-on-the-Lake that included a stop at the Floral Clock, lunch at the Oban Inn and a tour of the Iniskillin Winery.

Former American President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn pose in front of the Floral
Clock in Niagara Falls. (Photo: Niagara Falls Public Library)

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