The Revelstoke Mountaineer got a hot tip on Saturday evening: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sitting down for dinner with his family and friends at Chubby Funsters restaurant in Grizzly Plaza.
Now, if you’re looking to make it as a paparazzi in Revelstoke, I’ll be up front: you’re going to starve. We get lots of mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding and sledding A-listers, but real-world A-list celebs are few and far between, or take a heli straight to their lodge. So, a few moments later, I walked into the busy restaurant and made the eyeball confirmation. Trudeau, his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and children were dining with friends at the nice table next to the glowing fireplace.
In true Canadian style, half of the diners at the busy restaurant seemed to be trying hard to act as if it was no big deal — you know, just the Prime Minister over at the next table. Most of the other half seemed like American tourists who were likely oblivious to the Prime Minister’s presence, or at least they were more interested in the Atlanta Falcons vs. Los Angeles Rams game on the TVs. The other segment was the Prime Minister’s security detail, doing their best to blend in.
I mingled in the waiting area and went with the flow.
While waiting, it made me realize my Canadian-ness would mean I’d starve as a paparazzi, even if I lived in LA. Just ten feet away, I could have slapped my flash on my Nikon and got a nice bird’s-eye photo of the family as they tucked into dinner. But that seemed a little gauche.
So, I decided to retreat outside and wait for the exit shot.
It wasn’t long before the Prime Minister’s security detail was on to me. I moved my car across the Regent Inn parking lot so it would be better positioned to exit with the motorcade. Right away, one of the security detail walked over to my car to get my license plate. He came over and introduced himself, asking for my name, what I was doing and all that. I explained I was just the local news looking for a photo.
A few moments later a courteous woman named Linda came over and introduced herself as the head of the Prime Minister’s security detail. She said she could relay my request for a photo to Trudeau. After a while, she came back with a no. She emphasized that Trudeau was on vacation with his family, and that he didn’t like photos during family time.
Again, this made me feel bad, and reconfirmed my realization that I would never make it as a paparazzi.
I thanked her for her assistance, but said I’d be around for the exit shot anyway.
Outside, I sussed out the scene. The back entrance was shoveled, so I’d have to cover both exits. I found a spot to shelter from the snow under one of the mushroom-shaped visitor info kiosks in Grizzly Plaza. Local artist Bruce Thomas was walking home from his studio while I was standing there and asked me what was up. “What are you doing, dealing drugs?” he asked. I explained that I was staking out a shot of Justin Trudeau, who was inside at Chubby Funsters. He started to tell me a story about how one of his friends went to university with him at McGill University. I had to cut him off.
It was just then that the motorcade of big, black, tinted-out Suburbans rounded the corner from Victoria and made their way up Mackenzie Avenue. I made my move.
In the end, it was a little anticlimactic. I walked towards the front door with the two security detail members who were now following me around. “That’s close enough,” said the big one as I neared the motorcade.
Justin Trudeau walked out the front door first, holding his youngest son Hadrien. It wasn’t the awkward paparazzi scene I envisioned at all. Trudeau walked up to me and shook my hand and posed for the photo.
We chatted for about a minute. I asked him about dinner and why he chose to vacation in Revelstoke. I wasn’t recording, but more or less he said dinner was fantastic and that he’s in town for the great mountain at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
After I got the snaps, I got back into my car and followed the motorcade to where the family is staying. Now that I had the photo, the only point of following the motorcade was to find out where the Trudeau family was staying — some extra details to dish.
When we reached the destination, the garage door went up, the motorcade went in to even more waiting security, then the door went down.
So, where’s he staying? I’ll have to defer to my Canadian-ness and return a favour to courteous security detail chief Linda, so I’ll just say it’s somewhere under a blanket of Revelstoke snow, lit by a warm fireplace glow.