Two young local boys have had an experience most of us don’t have in a lifetime — they met the prime minister of Canada, had a brief conversation with him, got his autograph and have a record of it to keep forever.
Morgan and Spencer Mitchell are 11 and six, but they are both well aware of the importance of the country’s leader, and their good fortune in meeting him.
“We were there, and we’ve never met a prime minister,” said Morgan.
When asked if they know what the prime minister does, Spencer chimed in, “he’s the person who runs the country.”
Justin Trudeau was in Niagara-on-the-Lake last week for a funding announcement. After having breakfast in Silk’s Country Kitchen, where he chatted and shook hands with locals, he headed to the Anderson Lane community centre, where he made his announcement from the community garden behind the building, and took questions from reporters.
That accomplished, he spent some time greeting locals, talking with them and posing for photos.
The boys were at the library to participate in one of the kids’ summer programs, said their dad Michael Mitchell, and heard the prime minister was going to be there.
The week before that, the boys had been featured on the front page of The Local.
They were captured by photographer Fred Mercnik, who was on Queen Street taking Peach Celebration photos. Morgan and Spencer had set up a lemonade stand to raise money for Red Roof Retreat, and Mercnik took their photograph.
Most lemonade stands might make a few dollars, but in the six years they have been doing this, Morgan and Spencer have topped $10,000 for the organization that helps kids with disabilities. Six years ago, they had a baby-sitter who was a volunteer at Red Roof, and she took Morgan there regularly during that summer, explaining the purpose of the organization and why it was needed, said Michael.
When they got to talk to Trudeau, Morgan said, “he asked us about the lemonade stand and how much money we raised. We told him about Red Roof, and that it helps kids with special needs. He thought that was really cool, that we were raising money for children.”
He signed their photo in The Local, “Great stuff, Morgan and Spencer.”
Morgan said he’s been learning about government at Wheatley School in St. Catharines, and he is pretty excited to be able to say he’d met the prime minister over the summer. He has the newspaper on his bedroom wall, and his parents will have posters made of it for both boys.
Michael says he’s been telling Morgan about the page program for students, thinking after his summer adventure, he might be interested in it when he’s old enough.
“The whole experience was just serendipity, that the boys wanted to go to the community centre to pick up papers, and that they stuck around for the library program, and heard the prime minister would be there,” said Michael.
“I joked with him (Morgan) that the boys had eclipsed the other article on the front page, which was the successful nomination of Andrea Kaiser to the Liberal Party running in Niagara, who is also a personal friend.”
The headline below the photo of the boys and their lemonade stand, unnoticed by the Liberal prime minister, said, “Kaiser hopes to paint Niagara Falls riding red.”