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.
François-Eugène-Alfred Évanturel, lawyer, civil servant, legislator, minister, journalist and Clerk of the Senate of Canada (born 31 August 1846 in Quebec City, Quebec; died 15 November 1908 in Alfred, Ontario). A Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1886 to 1905, he was the first French Canadian to serve as a minister in a provincial cabinet and is the only French Canadian to have served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario (1897-1902).
Adrienne Louise Clarkson, PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD, 26th governor general of Canada 1999–2005, television personality, journalist, novelist, public servant, publisher (born 10 February 1939 in Hong Kong). In 1999, Clarkson was appointed as Canada’s 26th governor general by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. She was the first racialized person, the first person of Asian heritage and the first without a political or military background appointed to the vice-regal position. Her appointment came after an award-winning career in broadcast and print journalism, where she was best known as host and reporter of CBC’s the fifth estate. After her tenure as governor general, Clarkson and her husband, John Ralston Saul, launched the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, an organization that aims to accelerate the cultural integration of new citizens into Canadian society. She is the author of two novels and five works of nonfiction.
David Barrett, OC, OBC, 26th premier of British Columbia 1972–75, member of parliament 1988–93, MLA 1960–83, social worker (born 2 October 1930 in Vancouver, BC; died 2 February 2018 in Victoria, BC). Barrett led the first New Democratic Party government in British Columbia, a short-lived but prolific administration that passed more than 400 bills in three years. The Barrett government created the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the Agricultural Land Reserve and the province’s PharmaCare program. He was the first premier of Jewish heritage in Canada.
David See-Chai Lam, OC, CVO, OBC, 25th lieutenant-governor of BC 1988–95, banker, land developer, philanthropist (born 25 July 1923 in Hong Kong; died 22 November 2010 in Vancouver, BC). After establishing himself as a successful banker in Hong Kong, David Lam moved to Vancouver in 1967 and became a central figure in the city’s real estate development. As a philanthropist, he made major contributions to the cultural life, community spaces and educational institutions of British Columbia. A vocal advocate of immigration and of Canada’s role within the Pacific Rim, Lam served as lieutenant-governor of British Columbia from 1988 to 1995. He was the first person of Asian ancestry to hold a vice-regal post in Canada.
Philip Siu Lun Lee, CM, OM, 24th lieutenant-governor of Manitoba 2009–15, research chemist (born 5 May 1944 in Hong Kong). Lee was installed as 24th lieutenant-governor of Manitoba following 38 years in municipal civil service. Lee was the first person of Asian heritage to be appointed to the vice-regal position in Manitoba and the third Chinese Canadian appointed lieutenant-governor in Canada.
Elijah Harper, Oji-Cree politician, consultant, policy analyst (born 3 March 1949 at Red Sucker Lake, MB; died 17 May 2013 in Ottawa, ON). Harper is best known for the role he played in scuttling the Meech Lake Accord, for which he was named the Canadian Press newsmaker of the year for 1990.
Sir James Douglas, governor of Vancouver Island (1851–63) and of British Columbia (1858–64), fur trader (born 15 August 1803 in Demerara [Guyana]; died 2 August 1877 in Victoria, BC). A resourceful, energetic and intelligent man, Douglas helped the Hudson’s Bay Company become a trading monopoly in the Pacific Northwest. As colonial governor, he initiated British rule west of the Rocky Mountains, and as the founder of settlement, trade and industry, he is remembered as “the Father of British Columbia.”
Kathleen O’Day Wynne, 25th premier of Ontario 2013–18, community activist, mediator, teacher, politician (born 21 May 1953 in Toronto, ON). The skills of a mediator, coupled with a strong sense of will, propelled Kathleen Wynne’s political career, making her Ontario’s first woman premier and Canada’s first openly gay head of government.
Amid the widening and complex debate about the removal of the names and statues of controversial, colonial-era figures from public places, The Canadian Encyclopedia sought the opinions of three writers on the subject. Here, political writer John Geddes argues that historical figures should not be judged narrowly, or by the standards of the present.
Stephen Joseph Harper, PC, prime minister of Canada 2006–15, politician, author, economist (born 30 April 1959 in Toronto, ON). Stephen Harper is Canada’s longest-serving Conservative prime minister since Sir John A. Macdonald. After helping to found the Reform Party, and serving as head of the National Citizens Coalition and leader of the Canadian Alliance Party, he transformed the country’s political landscape by uniting the previously divided and moribund right into the Conservative Party of Canada. He led the CPC to three consecutive election wins before being defeated, and subsequently resigning as party leader, in 2015. Harper’s adherence to a brand of ideologically-pure conservatism resulted in what the Globe and Mail called “Canada’s first ever truly Conservative government.”2
Andrew John Weaver, OBC, FRSC, leader of the BC Green Party 2015–present, climate scientist (born 16 November 1961 in Victoria, BC). Andrew Weaver is a leading climate change researcher who has made historic gains for the Green Party of British Columbia in his second career as a politician. In 2013, he was elected the province’s first Green MLA. In 2017, he led the Greens to three seats. After the 2017 election, he engineered a power-sharing deal with the BC New Democratic Party and toppled the Liberal government of Christy Clark to help John Horgan become premier.