New Canada PM Justin Trudeau has a historic family link to Singapore

Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau greeting a supporter at the end of his speech at a victory rally in Ottawa on Oct 20, 2015 after winning the general elections.
Canadian Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau greeting a supporter at the end of his speech at a victory rally in Ottawa on Oct 20, 2015 after winning the general elections. PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA • Canada's newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau inherits a family link to Singapore.

His mother, Mrs Margaret Trudeau, now 67, found the historic connection and made it a personal mission to learn the details.

Her great-great-great-grandmother was Esther, the eldest daughter of a Scot named William Farquhar, an early figure in the European settlement in Singapore, according to Canada.com.

Mrs Trudeau's journey of discovery, covered in a 2008 Canadian television programme, revealed that Mr Farquhar's wife was the daughter of a French officer and a Malaysian woman.

Their daughter Esther married a British army officer in 1818, but he later left her. The show said she had a tough life in Singapore, raising five children and dying aged 41, almost penniless.

The Straits Times covered Mrs Trudeau's visit in September 2007. She said she always felt that she had "Asian roots", because of an interest in Buddhism and Confucianism. The National Library helped with her research and her ancestor's grave was located.

"We certainly know a lot about the Sinclairs (her maiden name), but very little about my mother's side. And I feel very much that Esther has entered into my spirit," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'A historic family link to Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe