Lime juice at Adam Road and a visit to an ancestor’s memorial: How Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is spending time in Singapore

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at Fort Canning Park to pay a visit to the memorial plaque of Esther Farquhar Bernard, his great-great-great-great-grandmother.
Singapore Press Holdings

From visiting his great-great-great-great-grandmother’s memorial plaque at Fort Canning Park, to dropping by Adam Road for lime juice, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seems to be making full use of his time here.

The 46-year-old premier arrived in Singapore this week for meetings with Asean leaders and business groups, but after that, he made time for some personal business as well.

On Thursday (Nov 15), Trudeau visited Fort Canning Park where a memorial plaque for his great-great-great-great-grandmother, Esther Farquhar Bernard, has been placed.

“She was the daughter of Major General William Farquhar, directly linking the Canadian PM to a part of Singapore’s history,” National Park Board wrote in its Facebook post published on the same day.

The Canadian PM even took a video of himself with the plaque and sent it to his family members, The Straits Times reported.

During his visit, he was presented with a plate bearing a drawing of a kingfisher from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings from the National Museum of Singapore, and shown the memorial plaque of another family member – William Clark Farquhar, a grandson of Major Farquhar.

Fort Canning Hill also has a special connection to Major Farquhar, ST reported.

When Major Farquhar first arrived here with Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, he was the one who climbed up the hill and hoisted the Union Jack.

Earlier in the day, at a dialogue with the National University of Singapore’s students, Trudeau drew laughs when he quipped that Major Farquhar was more important in establishing Singapore as he had shaped Singapore as a trading post between 1819 and 1823.

ST quoted him as saying: “I’m not horribly biased, I will defend my fifth-time great-grandfather.”

Trudeau also mentioned how Major Farquhar had been dismissed from Singapore in 1823 after a a bitter quarrel broke out between him and Sir Stamford Raffles.

“He was banished by Raffles after a few years for having been too close to the locals and allowing for gambling, and allowing them to keep some more of the cultures and traditions than the British and Raffles wanted.

“When he was banished, the harbour was apparently filled with little boats and people lining the shores to say goodbye to him in memory. It was a neat piece of history,” ST quoted Trudeau as saying.

It was Trudeau’s mother, Margaret Trudeau, now 70, who had found the historical connection with Farquhar. She was approached by producers of a Canadian television programme featuring famous Canadians tracing their genealogical roots, and took a trip here to learn the details.

Margaret Trudeau’s discovery was featured in a 2008 Canadian television programme, which revealed that Major Farquhar’s daughter, Esther, married a British army officer in 1818. He later left her.

According to the show, Esther led a tough life in Singapore, raising five children and dying at the age of 41, with nothing to her name.

The National Library helped with her research and her ancestor’s grave was located.

And that’s not all the Canadian PM has done here in Singapore.

At around 7.45am on Nov 16, Trudeau stopped by Adam Road Food Centre to pick up some lime juice, The Straits Times reported.

After ordering a cup of lime juice at Adam Drinks Stall, he chatted with several groups of people at the food centre.

According to ST’s report, Adam Road Food Centre was picked by Trudeau’s team as it is near the Four Seasons Hotel, where he is staying.

The Canadian PM left at 8am after completing a round of the food centre, ST reported.

This is not the first time a visiting politician has decided to grab some juice at Adam Road. In 2013, then US Vice-President Joe Biden and his son-in-law Howard Krein stopped at Adam Road for fresh lime juice from drinks stall Taj Mahal.

Trudeau will leave Singapore on Friday afternoon for Papua New Guinea to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings.

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