The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Julie Payette, OC, CQ, astronaut, engineer, jet pilot, musician (born 20 October 1963 in Montréal, QC). Payette participated in two space flights to the International Space Station, STS-96 (1999) and STS-127 (2009), and served as the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. In 1999, she became the first Canadian to board the International Space Station. An accomplished scientific authority, musician and athlete, Payette is a board member of Own the Podium and a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s board of directors. In July 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Payette will become Canada’s 29th governor general, succeeding David Johnston.
Philip J. Currie, palaeontologist, museum curator (born 13 March 1949 in Brampton, ON). In the early 1980s, Currie played a lead role in the founding of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Drumheller, Alberta. He later became the namesake of another institution, the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, which opened in September 2015 near Grande Prairie, Alberta. Much of Currie’s research has focussed on fossils from Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park and other Cretaceous sites, as well as the evolution of carnivorous dinosaurs and the origin of birds.
Boris Peter Stoicheff, physics professor (b at Bitola, Yugoslavia 1 June 1924). A specialist in spectroscopy, laser physics and nonlinear optics, he is known for his innovative use of lasers. After receiving a PhD from U of T in 1950 he joined the National Research Council of Canada in 1951.
Theodore Lionel Sourkes, OC, biochemist, neuropsychopharmacologist (born 21 February 1919 in Montréal, QC; died 17 January 2015 in Montréal, QC). One of Canada's great scholars, he became professor of psychiatry at McGill in 1965 and director of the neurochemistry laboratory at the Allan Memorial Institute of Psychiatry; in 1970 he was appointed professor of biochemistry, retiring in 1991. He was a prime mover in the establishment of biochemical psychiatry as an accurate discipline.
Loris Shano Russell, palaeontologist (born 21 April 1904 in Brooklyn, New York; died 6 July 1998 in Toronto, ON). Over the course of his career, Russell served as a palaeontologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, as professor of geology at the University of Toronto, and in various roles at the National Museums of Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum. Russell was among the first to suggest that dinosaurs might have been warm-blooded, his most significant contribution to the field of palaeontology.
John Larkin Kerwin, physicist, research director (born 22 June 1924 in Québec City, Québec; died 1 May 2004 in Québec City). Kerwin joined Laval's physics department in 1946 after study at St Francis Xavier, U of T and Massachusetts Inst of Technology and, after earning his DSc at Laval, rose to become its rector in 1972.
George Hunt, ethnographer and museum acquisitions collector (born 14 February 1854 in Fort Rupert, BC; died there September 1933). He is best known for his work with anthropologist Franz Boas; together they documented the language, rituals and customs of Hunt’s people, the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl). Hunt's rich ethnographic notes and artifact collections provided the first ethno-history of the Kwakwaka'wakw culture.
Bertram Neville Brockhouse, physicist (born 15 July 1918 in Lethbridge, AB; died 13 October 2003 in Hamilton, ON). Brockhouse pioneered the use of thermal neutrons to study structural, dynamical and magnetic aspects of the behaviour of condensed matter systems at an atomic level.
Bernhard Adolf Hantzsch, explorer, ornithologist (d near the mouth of Hantzsch R, NWT June 1911). Hantzsch sailed with a German ornithological expedition to the eastern Arctic in 1906 and during that summer explored and collected specimens along the coast of Ungava Bay and northern Labrador.
Michel Sarrazin, surgeon, physician, naturalist (b at Nuits-sous-Beaune, France 5 Sept 1659; d at Québec C 8 Sept 1734). He came to New France in 1685 and the following year was appointed surgeon-major to the colonial regular troops. He later studied medicine in France for 3 years and returned to Québec in 1697 as king's physician.