Respected press photographer Ted Grant is already well decorated for his illustrious photo career but there’s still one more award coming, and it’s a big one.
Grant, who lives in Saanich, is among the 2016 recipients to receive the Order of Canada. The 86-year-old is set to fly to Ottawa on Feb. 11 for the ceremony.
“When the phone rang there was a lady’s voice who said she’s calling from Government House (Rideau Hall) in Ottawa to alert me ‘you’ve won the Order of Canada,’ I got misty eyed,” Grant said. “When I lived in Ottawa I shot assignments in Government House. I know the house, the room, the inside of the whole building, so I started out and out crying, and just coughing, and she says, ‘Mr. Grant, are you all right, do you need someone to help you?’
“’No, I’m just crying,’” he replied.
Anyone who’s talked to Grant knows he has a few mantras he swears by. For one, if you don’t have the attitude that you can still kick ass, you might as well be dead.
He’s also quick to admit he’s an ‘emotional jerk,’ a term he may have come up with to describe his propensity to become overwhelmed by emotion.
Grant earned his reputation working 60 years as a photojournalist for Canadian and international papers, shooting parliament and assignments such as the children of Chernobyl and the Vietnam war in 1968.
The National Archives of Canada has a dedicated Ted Grant Photo Collection with more than 280,000 images, while another 100,000 additional images are featured at the National Gallery of Canada.
Since his name was released among the 69 distinguished Canadians who will join the Order in 2016 Grant has received at least 200 emails of congratulations, he said.
Another Saanichite, filmmaker Atom Egoyan, is also earning recognition as he’s being promoted to ‘Companion’ status within the Order. Egoyen graduated from Mount Douglas secondary and now lives in Toronto.
For Grant, the opportunity isn’t lost on him to make the most of his visit. One of the most, if not the most defining photos of his career is that of Pierre Trudeau sliding down the bannister of Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier Hotel during the 1968 Liberal leadership convention.
And if Justin Trudeau is willing, Grant would like to take a moment to give him the framed print.
“I’m taking a mounted picture with me to present a copy of this particular photo to Justin, I don’t want a big show and tell unless they do, it’s their call,” Grant said.
Interestingly, despite shooting in Ottawa during the 1970s Grant never photographed the Trudeau family, or young Justin.
“I never had the opportunity to shoot the family, it was one of those things. It would have been cool, but I was busy working on other things,” he said.
One of Grant’s grandsons will make the trip with him to Ottawa where they’ll visit more of his family including a son, a daughter, grandchildren and a great-grandson he’ll hold for the first time.
“It’s an overwhelming thing to know I’m going back [to Rideau Hall],” Grant said “I’ve photographed in it, seen any number of situations there, and my reaction before I even get there is far greater than someone who’s never been there.”
Grant still credits his wife for buying him a camera on their first anniversary in 1950, which started it all, and wishes she was here to share this honour with him now.