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Sir Winston Churchill, The Roaring Lion | by cstm-mstc
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Sir Winston Churchill, The Roaring Lion

"Have you Ever Wondered How Karsh Got Churchill to Scowl?"


During the 1980's I was very involved with the Canadian Club of Ottawa and was Secretary of the Club for a period of about ten years. The speaker's lunches sponsored by the Club were almost always held at the Chateau Laurier Hotel which, during that period, was also the residence of Yousuf Karsh. At one of the Canadian Club lunches during that time I had invited an office colleague, Rob Nelson to attend with me. We walked up Elgin Street to the hotel and just as we were about to go in the main doors at the front I noticed Mr. Karsh coming out. I said to Rob, "Oh look, there's Yousuf Karsh". Rob said to me "You know, I've always wondered if the story about him pulling the cigar from Winston Churchill's mouth to get the famous portrait was true." Then Rob, far less shy than me, went up to Mr. Karsh and introduced the both of us. Mr. Karsh was very polite and gentlemanly even though I'm sure he must have wondered who we were. After our brief introduction, Rob popped the question about Churchill and the cigar, asking Mr. Karsh if in fact he had pulled it out of Churchill's mouth. Mr. Karsh smiled and said softly "Oh no Mr. Nelson, I would never have done that. However, I may have gently removed it." We both smiled, wished him a good day and proceeded into the hotel to our lunch.


True story, uniquely Ottawa and uniquely Yousuf Karsh.


With kind regards,

Terry D. McEwan

Ottawa, Ontario


Festival Karsh


Canada Science and Technology Museum / Musée des sciences et de la technologie du Canada

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Taken in December 1941