Don’t be fooled by the name – Justin Trudeau discovers he’s really Irish at EPIC Museum


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got the first shock of the week as he visited Ireland en route to the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg.

EPIC’s experts at The Irish Family History Centre, led by genealogist Fiona Fitzsimons, traced Trudeau’s family back ten generations in 17th century Ireland. Trudeau discovered his secret past during a visit to the museum, situated in Dublin’s docklands area.

“The EPIC people really surprised him,” a spokesman told Travel Extra. “He knew he had French and some Scottish but he didn’t know he had that much Irish… He seemed genuinely shocked in a good way.”

Neville Isdell Chairman EPIC Irish Emigration museum and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau

Neville Isdell, Chairman EPIC Irish Emigration museum, and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau

Through his mother, Margaret Sinclair, Justin Trudeau is a direct descendant of the Bernard family from Co Cork. In 1661 Francis Bernard married Mary Freake and had six daughters and two sons. Francis died in 1689 defending Castlemahon against a Jacobite attack in the Williamite Wars.

Prime Minister Trudeau also has politics in the blood from his Irish line – is descended from their younger son, Arthur Bernard, who was High Sheriff of Cork in 1697 and MP for Bandon from 1713-14.

But Cork can’t lay all the claim to the popular Canadian PM – there’s a bit of Waterford in him too. In 1695 Arthur Bernard married Anne Power, of Mount Eglantine, Co Waterford. The Powers and their relatives the Boyles were very involved in the intellectual elite of late 17th and early 18th Century Ireland.

Arthur and Anne also had a large family, ten daughters and four sons, including Trudeau’s great (x6) grandfather Francis Bernard (their third son). Francis got his degree from Trinity College in 1729, but as a younger son had to carve out a career as he would never inherit land. He relocated to England. His grandson’s generation relocated to Singapore and Malaysia, which was then part of the colonial Indian ‘station.’ They remained there for a century, until 1906 when the Bernards emigrated to Canada.

The EPIC Museum says the Irish connection with Canada has always been strong. Several of the ‘Fathers of the Confederation’, the founding figures in the formation of the modern Canada state, were Irish emigrants and in turn the newly independent Irish Free State, which was established following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, was accorded ‘Dominion status’ specifically linked with the freedoms enjoyed by Canada

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