Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the dominant creative mind which produced the British North America Act and the union of provinces which became Canada. As the first prime minister of Canada, he oversaw the expansion of the Dominion from sea to sea. His government dominated politics for a half century and set policy goals for future generations of political leaders.
James Karl Bartleman, OC, OOnt, diplomat, author, lieutenant governor of Ontario 2002–07 (born 24 December 1939 in Orillia, ON). James K. Bartleman spent nearly 40 years as a career diplomat, serving as high commissioner and ambassador to many countries, including South Africa, Cuba and Israel, and as a foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. A member of the Mnjikaning First Nation, he became Ontario’s first Indigenous lieutenant-governor in 2002. Bartleman’s tenure as lieutenant-governor was highlighted by his advocacy for literacy and education in Indigenous communities and his efforts to end the stigma around mental illness.
His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, third son of Queen Victoria and Governor General of Canada from 1911 to 1916 (born 1 May 1850 in London, United Kingdom; died 16 January 1942 in Surrey, United Kingdom). As Governor General, Connaught was involved in military recruitment and philanthropy in Canada during the First World War. He also established the Connaught Cup for marksmanship in the RCMP and made extensive renovations to Rideau Hall. His daughter, Princess Patricia, was the first honourary Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
Dennis Michael John “Doc” O’Keefe, teacher, municipal politician, mayor of St. John’s 2008–present (born 20 April 1944 in St. John’s, NL). A retired school teacher, and a city council member since 1997, O’Keefe is a consumer-and cruise ship industry-advocate known for his approachability, and his daily walks of the streets of St. John’s.
Stephen Kakfwi, Dene leader, politician, premier of the Northwest Territories 2000–2003 (born 1950 near Fort Good Hope, NT.) Kakfwi attended residential schools in Inuvik, Yellowknife and Fort Smith. He achieved national prominence because of his forceful appearance before the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry. In the mid-1970s he argued passionately that the proposed construction of a pipeline across the traditional homeland of the Dene people before the settlement of their land claims would destroy their way of life as well as damage the natural environment of the region.
Gregory Selinger, 21st premier of Manitoba 2009-2016, MLA, city councillor, social worker (born 16 February 1951 in Regina, SK). Manitoba’s economy grew during Selinger’s seven years as premier, but he faced a public backlash over an increase in sales tax and an internal revolt from his party.
Alikomiak (also spelled Alekámiaq) and Tatimagana, Inuit hunters from the central Arctic, were the first Inuit to be condemned and executed for murder under Canadian law on 1 February 1924. The trials of Alikomiak and Tatimagana have been described as demonstrations of federal authority over the Inuit as well as of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
Georges Henry Erasmus, OC, Indigenous leader, activist and spokesperson (born 8 August 1948 in Fort Rae, NT). Erasmus has been a leading advocate for the self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada. He has served as the head of several Indigenous public policy organizations, including the Dene Nation and the Assembly of First Nations. He also served as the co-chair for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Camille Henri Thériault, politician, businessman, premier of New Brunswick 1998-1999 (born 25 February 1955 in Baie-Sainte-Anne, NB). Thériault served in the Cabinet of Liberal Premier Frank McKenna before briefly taking a turn as premier himself. After politics, he was chair of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board, and served as CEO of the Mouvement des caisses populaires acadiennes.
John George Edward Henry Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll, Marquess of Lorne from 1847 to 1900, Governor General of Canada from 1878 to 1883, author (born 6 August 1845, in London, United Kingdom; died 2 May 1914 in Cowes, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom). As Governor General of Canada, Lorne founded the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook extensive tours of western Canada, proposing the names Alberta and Lake Louise in honour of his wife, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. Lorne’s patronage of Canadian artists set precedents for future Governors General and his books promoted Canadian landscapes, culture and history to a wide international audience.
Andrew James Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the Opposition (2017– ), Speaker of the House of Commons, Member of Parliament, insurance broker (born 20 May 1979 in Ottawa, ON). Scheer was the youngest Speaker of the House when elected to that position in 2011. Six years later, he became the second Conservative leader since the party's re-formation in 2004.
Wabanakwut Kinew, hip hop artist, broadcaster, university administrator, author, politician (born 31 December 1981 in Kenora, ON). An Ojibwa activist and public intellectual, Wab Kinew began his career as a musician and rapper with the hip hop group Dead Indians. He gained national attention through his radio and television journalism for the CBC, including 8th Fire, a television series on Indigenous issues. Kinew’s 2015 memoir, The Reason You Walk, was a national bestseller and finalist for the RBC Taylor Prize. Kinew was elected to the Manitoba legislature in 2016, despite controversial tweets and rap lyrics that dogged his campaign. Similarly, his bid to become leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party in September 2017 has been marked by revelations of stayed domestic assault charges from 2003.
Dan George, OC, Tsleil-Waututh actor, poet, public speaker (born 24 July 1899 on the Burrard Indian Reserve No. 3 in BC; died 23 September 1981 in North Vancouver, BC). By his film roles and personal appearances, Dan George helped improve the popular image of Indigenous people, often represented in stereotypical ways.
Samuel Michael Katz, businessman, mayor of Winnipeg 2004–2014 (born 20 August, 1951 in Rehovot, Israel). An entrepreneur and owner of the Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball team, Katz was elected Winnipeg’s first Jewish mayor in June 2004. The latter half of his administration was marked by controversy over city real estate deals.
Christina Joan “Christy” Clark, 35th premier of British Columbia (2011–2017), radio broadcaster, political staffer (born 29 October 1965 in Burnaby, BC). Clark was a fiscal conservative with a populist flourish, often compared to legendary premier W.A.C. Bennett. She was the first female premier to be re-elected in Canadian history.
Stephen McNeil, business owner, politician, 28th premier of Nova Scotia, 2013 to present (born 10 November 1964 in Bridgetown, Annapolis County, NS). Few observers expected much from refrigerator repairman Stephen McNeil when he was first elected to the Nova Scotia legislature in 2003. But he surprised pundits when he became leader of the Liberal Party, and was twice elected premier, winning majority governments in 2013 and 2017.
Bernard Lord, lawyer, businessman, premier of New Brunswick 1999-2006 (born 27 September 1965 in Roberval, QC). After becoming New Brunswick's youngest elected premier at age 33, Lord successfully revised the province's Official Languages Act and introduced widely praised measures to improve bilingual services.
John Joseph Horgan, 36th premier of British Columbia, 2017–present; political aide (born 7 August 1959 in Victoria, BC). Horgan revitalized British Columbia's New Democratic Party after 16 years on the opposition benches. After the 2017 election, he engineered a power-sharing deal to topple a weakened Liberal regime and govern the province with the support of the Green Party.
Brad Wall, businessman, politician, 14th premier of Saskatchewan, from 2007 to present (born 24 November 1965 in Swift Current, SK). Wall led the new Saskatchewan Party to power, presided over a time of stunning economic prosperity for his province, and became one of Canada's leading conservative voices in the early 21st Century.
Brian Vincent Tobin, PC, OC, politician, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 1996-2000 (born 21 October 1954 in Stephenville, NF). Before serving as Newfoundland and Labrador's sixth premier, Tobin became a hero in the province when, as a federal Cabinet minister, he defended the turbot fishery against foreign overfishing. Nicknamed “Captain Canada,” he was also a strong advocate of national unity during Québec's 1995 referendum on sovereignty.