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Laureen Harper, honourary chairwoman of the NAC Gala in support of Canada's next generation of performing artists mingles with guest during a reception at the National Art Centre in Ottawa. File photo: April 10, 2009
Laureen Harper, honourary chairwoman of the NAC Gala in support of Canada's next generation of performing artists mingles with guest during a reception at the National Art Centre in Ottawa. File photo: April 10, 2009
(Brigitte Bouvier/Special to the Globe and Mail)

Editor's letter: My boisterous encounter with Laureen Harper

We don’t have First Ladies (or First Gentlemen) in Canada, as Laureen Harper likes to tell people. If we did, she would surely break the mould.

Mrs. Harper is unlike any previous resident of 24 Sussex, and there have been plenty of trailblazers, from Margaret Trudeau to Mila Mulroney. The current Prime Minister’s wife has her own unique way, which I first discovered when I met her early in her time in Ottawa. I had written a book, Timbit Nation , based on a trans-Canada hitch-hiking trip that I had taken to get a sense of the country at the turn of the century. She had read it (or some of it), and seized on the experience to describe her own summer drives from Ottawa to Calgary and back, two kids in tow, while “Stephen” stayed on the job. During the most tiring stretches, between Winnipeg and Kenora, Ont., she relied on potato chips and pop and singing along with the radio to fight boredom.