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.
Julia Verlyn (Judy) LaMarsh, OC, lawyer, politician, broadcaster, author (born 20 December 1924 in Chatham, ON; died 27 October 1980 in Toronto). Judy LaMarsh was a force in politics at a time when Canadian women were fighting for equal treatment in the country’s political system. She became the second female federal Cabinet minister in Canadian history when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson named her Minister of National Health and Welfare in 1963. She was instrumental in the development of several groundbreaking federal programs, including Medicare and the Canada Pension Plan. As Canada’s Secretary of State (1965–68), she pushed for the establishment of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada and coordinated Canada’s Centennial year festivities. Fiercely outspoken, LaMarsh remained active in public life after her retirement from politics, as an author, a broadcaster and a lawyer.
Patrick George Binns, premier of Prince Edward Island 1996-2007, provincial bureaucrat, federal MP, farmer, diplomat (born 8 October 1948 in Weyburn, SK). Binns governed PEI for 11 years as premier, with a focus on strengthening rural communities and developing the Island's renewable energy resources.
John MacLennan Buchanan, premier of Nova Scotia 1978–90, senator 1990–2006, lawyer (born 22 April 1931 in Sydney, NS). A master political campaigner, Buchanan was the longest-serving Conservative premier in Nova Scotian history, and was among the leaders who negotiated the accord to repatriate Canada’s Constitution in 1982.
John Frederick Hamm, premier of Nova Scotia 1999-2006, physician, politician, (born 8 April 1938 in New Glasgow, NS). After a career as a family physician, Hamm moved into provincial politics in 1993 and became premier in 1999 — the first premier in 40 years to balance the province’s budget.
John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon, 1st Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair, Earl of Aberdeen from 1870 to 1916, governor general of Canada from 1893 to 1898 (born 3 August 1847 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom; died 7 March 1934 in Tarland, United Kingdom). As governor general, the Earl of Aberdeen and his wife, Lady Aberdeen, focused on social welfare and engaging with Canadians of various backgrounds and cultures, setting precedents for the philanthropic initiatives of future governors general. Aberdeen also owned an estate in the Okanagan Valley and pioneered commercial fruit growing in the region.
Valérie Plante, mayor of Montréal 2017–present, community organizer, city councillor (born 14 June 1974 in Rouyn-Noranda, QC). After running for mayor with an irreverent campaign that advertised her as “the right man for the job,” Plante won Montréal’s municipal election on 5 November 2017, becoming the first woman to be elected mayor in the city’s 375-year history.
Sir Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge, Major General The Earl of Athlone, Governor General of Canada from 1940 to 1946 (born 14 April 1874 in London, United Kingdom; died 16 January 1957 in London, United Kingdom). Athlone served as Governor General during the Second World War and hosted the Québec Conferences at La Citadelle in 1943 and 1944, where Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt met to decide Allied strategy for victory over Germany and Japan. A maternal uncle of King George VI, Athlone was the last close relative of the monarch to serve as Governor General of Canada.
Thomas Joseph “Tom” Mulcair, Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) 2012–17, Leader of the Opposition 2012-15, provincial Cabinet minister, lawyer, university professor (born 24 October 1954 in Ottawa, ON). Appointed to the Privy Council of Canada in 2012. Mulcair played a key role in building support for the NDP in Québec during the 2011 federal election, after which the party, under leader Jack Layton, became the official opposition. Four years later, Mulcair led the party to a disappointing third-place finish.
Denis Coderre, politician, federal cabinet minister, mayor of Montréal 2013–2017 (born 25 July 1963 in Joliette, QC). A federal politician for 16 years, Coderre moved into municipal politics and was elected mayor of Montréal in November 2013. Although credited with cleaning up the city’s administration, Coderre lost the November 2017 election to Valérie Plante, becoming the first Montréal mayor in 57 years to lose after only one term.
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.
Jim Watson, broadcaster, politician, mayor of Ottawa 1997–2000 and 2010–present (born 30 July 1961 in Montréal, QC). Watson has been in and out of politics since first being elected as an Ottawa city councillor in 1991. He has also served as a member of the Ontario provincial parliament (MPP) and a minister in the Liberal provincial Cabinet. He is currently serving his third term as mayor of Ottawa.
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 honorary colonel-in-chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
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.
Francis “Peggy” Pegahmagabow, Anishnaabe (Ojibwa) chief, Aboriginal rights advocate, war hero (born on 9 March 1889 on the Parry Island reserve, ON; died 5 August 1952 at Parry Island, ON). The most highly decorated Aboriginal person in Canada during the First World War, Pegahmagabow became a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and self-determination.
Madeleine Meilleur, politician (born 22 November 1948 in Kiamika, Québec). Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) in Ontario from 2003 to 2016, she was Minister of Culture, Minister of Community and Social Services, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Attorney General of Ontario, and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs. On 9 June 2016, after 25 years in politics, Meilleur announced that she was resigning as MPP, Attorney General and minister.