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.
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.
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, revelations of stayed domestic assault charges from 2003 threatened to derail his bid to become leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party, though he was named leader in September 2017.
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.
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.
In September 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Adrienne Clarkson governor general. Her appointment marked several "firsts" in the selection of Canada's governor general: she was the first without a military or political background, and the first non-white Canadian to be appointed to the vice-regal position.
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.
Stephen McNeil, business owner, politician, 28th premier of Nova Scotia, 2013 to present (born 10 November 1964 in Halifax, 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.
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.
Although the Reform (that is to say liberal) Party swept the constituencies like a broom, the principle that the majority party controls parliament was not yet established. Colonial government was still firmly in the grip of the governor, who was appointed by London.
John Graves Simcoe, army officer, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada (born 25 February 1752 in Cotterstock, Britain; died 26 October 1806 in Exeter, Britain). Simcoe served as an officer with the British army in the American Revolutionary War, but is best known to Canadians as the first lieutenant-governor of the new British colony of Upper Canada, which later became Ontario.1
David Lloyd Johnston, professor, university administrator, governor general (born 28 June 1941 in Copper Cliff, ON). After establishing himself as a respected professor and well-published scholar, Johnson became president of two major Canadian universities. Beginning in the 1980s, he served as an advisor to the federal and Ontario governments, both Liberal and Conservative, on a number of sensitive issues, including what would become the Oliphant Commission. Appointed governor general in 2010, Johnston encouraged education, innovation, philanthropy and volunteerism and devoted much of his time to the plight of Indigenous peoples. After Johnston served five years in office, the government asked him to stay in office for an additional two years, making him the longest-serving Canadian governor general in half a century.2
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.
Edward Richard Schreyer, PC, CC, CMM, teacher, politician, diplomat, premier of Manitoba 1969-1977, governor general of Canada 1979-1984 (born 21 December 1935 in Beausejour, MB). Schreyer was the first New Democrat to form a government anywhere in Canada. He was also the first Manitoban to become governor general. In that post, Schreyer was a strong advocate of bilingualism, the environment and women’s equality, and sought to make Rideau Hall more accessible to Canadians.