10 Great Canadians

Terry Fox Statue In Front of the Parliament (Ottawa)

Terry Fox Statue In Front of the Par­lia­ment (Ottawa)

Wel­come to my new series, the “Cana­dian List of Ten”! Ten weeks, ten posts, ten lists and one hun­dred new Cana­dian things for you, from food to lan­guage, from city to weather.

There are great Cana­di­ans in all fields: sports, sci­ence, arts, social sci­ences… Thou­sands of Cana­di­ans from all back­grounds and all ori­gins helped improve this world, one way or another, through the centuries.

Today, I invite you to get to know ten of them. Like all lists, this one is sub­jec­tive — I had to make a choice among all the great Cana­di­ans out there. But I’m wait­ing to hear from you: who should be added to the list?

So, in no par­tic­u­lar order, here is the list of 10 great Canadians.I’m sure you know at least a few, and I know you will be impressed by some of their achieve­ments.

  1. Terry Fox: he was a Cana­dian human­i­tar­ian, ath­lete, and can­cer treat­ment activist. He became famous for the Marathon of Hope, a cross-Canada run to raise money for can­cer research, which Fox ran at the age of 21 years old with one pros­thetic leg. He started his run in the Mar­itimes, through New­found­land, Nova Sco­tia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Que­bec, and Ontario. He was forced to stop because of his health and died one year later. Canada cel­e­brated his young hero and the marathon of hope is still ran every year to raise money for can­cer research.
  2. Nor­man Bethune: he was a Cana­dian physi­cian and med­ical inno­va­tor. Bethune is best known for his ser­vice in war time med­ical units with the Chi­nese Com­mu­nists dur­ing the Sec­ond Sino-Japanese War. He is still viewed as a hero in China. He died in China right before the the begin­ning of WWII.
  3. Pierre Trudeau: he was the 15th Prime Min­is­ter of Canada from April 20, 1968, to June 4, 1979, and from March 3, 1980, to June 30, 1984. He is still a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure today and always arise pas­sion­ate reac­tions, both very pos­i­tive or extremely neg­a­tive. He is famous for estab­lish­ing the Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms, pro­mot­ing Canada’s mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ist pol­icy and imple­ment­ing the offi­cial bilin­gual­ism politics.
  4. Mar­garet Atwood: she is a Cana­dian author, poet, critic, fem­i­nist and social cam­paigner. She is most famous for her nov­els, but also for her poetry. She is also involve in pol­i­tics and spoke against the Con­ser­v­a­tive government.
  5. Louise Arbour: she is the for­mer UN High Com­mis­sioner for Human Rights, a for­mer jus­tice of the Supreme Court of Canada and a for­mer Chief Pros­e­cu­tor of the Inter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Tri­bunals for the for­mer Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She indicted then Pres­i­dent Slo­bo­dan Miloše­vić for war crimes, among other state leaders.
  6. David Suzuki: he is a Japan­ese Cana­dian sci­ence broad­caster and envi­ron­men­tal activist. Since the mid-1970s, Suzuki has been known for his TV and radio series and books about nature and the envi­ron­ment. He has been a long time activist to reverse global cli­mate change and patiently edu­cate peo­ple through­out the world.
  7. Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell: he was an emi­nent sci­en­tist, inven­tor, engi­neer and inno­va­tor who is cred­ited with invent­ing the first prac­ti­cal tele­phone. Although he was born in Scot­land, he moved to Canada as a young man. His inter­ests were very var­ied and he is also cred­ited as the inven­tor of the metal detector.
  8. Keno­juak Ashe­vak: this Inuit artist is regarded as one of the most notable pio­neers of mod­ern Inuit art. She designed sev­eral draw­ings for Cana­dian stamps and coins. She is most famous for her draw­ings, prints and sculp­tures and she is one of the ambas­sadors of Inuit art around the world.
  9. Fred­er­ick Bant­ing: he was a Cana­dian med­ical sci­en­tist, doc­tor and Nobel lau­re­ate noted as one of the co-discoverers of insulin. In the 1920, the Par­lia­ment of Canada granted him a life annu­ity to work on his research. His dis­cov­ery is esti­mated to have saved over 16 mil­lion lives, worldwide.
  10. Julie Payette: she is a Cana­dian engi­neer and a Cana­dian Space Agency astro­naut. She went to space twice and she is now Chief Astro­naut of CSA.

About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Mar­garet Atwood is one of my favorite writ­ers. She is amaz­ing, her sto­ries are fas­ci­nat­ing and dis­turb­ing, and her writ­ing style is so beau­ti­ful, pow­er­ful, exact…
    .-= Seb´s last blog ..Star Bear! =-.

  2. @Nigel Babu — Yes, he was quite an amaz­ing young man!

    @Gabriel — It is, really! Some Cana­di­ana we have here :-)

    @Agnes — Thank you Agnes!

    @RennyBA’s Terella — I learn the same way about Nor­way when I head to your blog 😉

    @DianeCA — He did leave an amaz­ing legacy!

    @khengsiong — yes, the run is the one he started in his fight against can­cer. Bell was actu­ally Scot­tish, moved to Canada and also lived int he USA I believe.

    @Tulsa Gen­tle­man — No dumb Amer­i­can! I didn’t know much about Cana­dian myself before I moved there. I still don’t know that much about Amer­ica his­tory actu­ally, because we don’t learn it at school.

    @Seraphine — I don’t even know him… gotta check that!

    @Shantanu — Canada does have a lot of singers! I just wanted to show other personalities 😉

    @Beth — You know what, I almost added Don Cherry. He is hilar­i­ous (at least, I find!).

    @Seb — Really? I have to read her books again, it’s been a while.

  3. I agree…I really think Don Cherry need to be on that list. Not sure what Beth means by just kid­ding. He is exactly what I think of when I think of great Cana­dian fig­ures and personalities.

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