Jacques Cartier, navigator (born between 7 June and 23 December 1491 in Saint-Malo, France; died 1 September 1557 in Saint-Malo, France).
Lord Cardigan took up his position at the front of the Light Brigade. He sat tall in the saddle, his eyes flashing sapphire blue, his bearing proud. This would be his day for, although all who met him found him unusually stupid, no-one doubted his dauntless courage.
"I feel equal," wrote Emily Murphy in 1927, "to high and splendid braveries."
Sir George-Étienne Cartier, co-premier of the Province of Canada, lawyer, rebel, railway promoter, politician (born 6 September 1814 in Saint-Antoine, Lower Canada; died 20 May 1873 in London, England).
George Brown, journalist, politician (born 29 November 1818 in Alloa, Scotland; died 9 May 1880 in Toronto, ON).
Louis-Joseph Papineau, lawyer, seigneur, politician (born 7 October 1786 in Montréal, Province of Quebec; died 23 September 1871 in Montebello, QC).
William Lyon Mackenzie, journalist, politician (born 12 March 1795 in Dundee, Scotland; died 28 August 1861 in Toronto, ON). A journalist, Member of the Legislative Assembly, first mayor of Toronto and a leader of the Rebellions of 1837, Mackenzie was a central figure in pre-Confederation political life.2
The 36 men traditionally regarded as the Fathers of Confederation were those who represented British North American colonies at one or more of the conferences that led to Confederation on 1 July 1867, including the Charlottetown Conference (September 1864), the Québec Conference (October 1864) and the London Conference (1866–67).1
Gabriel Dumont, Métis leader (born December 1837 at Red River Settlement; died 19 May 1906 at Bellevue, SK). Dumont rose to political prominence in an age of declining buffalo herds and was concerned about the ongoing economic prosperity and political independence of his people.
In the very early morning of October 13, 1812, Major General Isaac Brock was fast asleep in his bunk at Fort George, on the Niagara Frontier.
Born in Toronto in 1867 and raised in Woodstock, Ont., Joe Boyle was an extraordinarily restless young man. At age 17 he went to New York with his father and hopped an outbound ship, spending three years at sea.
Radiant sunshine bathed the Island of Montreal on the morning of May 18th, 1642. The hawthorns and wild cherry trees were in blossom and the meadow, where a group of French colonists had set up an altar, was dotted with trilliums and violets.
In 1886 Prime Minister John A. Macdonald had the idea of bringing the "loyal chiefs" those who had refused to join the Northwest Rebellion east.
On 9 October 1867, in Spotted Island Harbour, Labrador, Captain William Jackman secured his vessel ahead of a vicious storm and went ashore to visit his old friend, John Holwell. Before the day ended, events transpired that earned Jackman a place in Newfoundland history — and legend.
"For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy." Such dry words to describe the courage and daring ascribed to the Victoria Cross (VC), the Commonwealth's highest decoration for bravery.
In the early morning of Good Friday, April 17, 1840, a terrific explosion shattered the peaceful atmosphere of the village of Queenston in Upper Canada (now Ontario). Brock's Monument, burial place of General Sir Isaac Brock, the much-revered hero of the War of 1812, was in ruins.
A knock on the apartment door froze him in his steps. Another knock, louder, more insistent. The knocking turned to pounding. A voice called his name several times. Finally the pounding stopped and he heard footsteps going down the stairs. He knew he needed help.
Maurice Ruddick, coal miner, musician (born 1912 in Joggins, NS; died 1988 in Springhill, NS). After a mine shaft caved in on Ruddick and six other workers, he helped keep his companions’ spirits up by singing and leading them in song and prayer. He later described the experience in "Spring Hill Disaster," the song he wrote about the event. Ruddick and the other "miracle miners" enjoyed public attention briefly after the disaster. For Ruddick, the only Black person in the group, racism dimmed his moment in the spotlight.
Sir James Douglas, fur trader, governor of Vancouver Island, 1851-63, and of British Columbia, 1858-64 (b at Demerara, British Guiana 15? Aug 1803; d at Victoria 2 Aug 1877).
Anderson Ruffin Abbott, doctor, surgeon (born 7 April 1837 in Toronto, Upper Canada; died 29 December 1913 in Toronto, ON). Abbott was the first Canadian-born person of colour to graduate from medical school. He served the Union army as a civilian surgeon during the American Civil War.
Mathieu Da Costa (depending on the language of the documents that mention his name, also known as “Mateus Da Costa,” “Mathieu de Coste,” “Matheus de Cost” and “een Swart genamd Matheu”), interpreter (dates and places of birth and death unknown). Da Costa is one of the most fascinating and elusive figures in the early history of Canada. Historians consider him the first Black person known to have visited Canada, probably in the company of Pierre Dugua de Mons and Samuel de Champlain. But many aspects of his life remain unclear or unknown.
Viola Irene Desmond (née Davis), businesswoman, civil libertarian (born 6 July 1914 in Halifax, NS; died 7 February 1965 in New York, NY).