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.
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.
Camille Henri Thériault, politician, businessman, premier of New Brunswick 1998-1999 (born 25 February 1955 in Baie-Sainte-Anne, NB). Thériault served in the Cabinet of Liberal Premier Frank McKenna before briefly taking a turn as premier himself. After politics, he was chair of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board, and served as CEO of the Mouvement des caisses populaires acadiennes.
Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, CC, QC, OOnt, lawyer, parliamentarian, public servant, lieutenant-governor of Ontario (born 21 January 1922 in Toronto, ON; died 19 October 2012 in Hamilton, ON). Alexander was the first Black Canadian Member of Parliament, cabinet minister and lieutenant-governor (Ontario).
Brian Vincent Tobin, PC, OC, politician, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 1996-2000 (born 21 October 1954 in Stephenville, NF). Before serving as Newfoundland and Labrador's sixth premier, Tobin became a hero in the province when, as a federal Cabinet minister, he defended the turbot fishery against foreign overfishing. Nicknamed “Captain Canada,” he was also a strong advocate of national unity during Québec's 1995 referendum on sovereignty.
Dennis Michael John “Doc” O’Keefe, teacher, municipal politician, mayor of St. John’s 2008–present (born 20 April 1944 in St. John’s, NL). A retired school teacher, and a city council member since 1997, O’Keefe is a consumer-and cruise ship industry-advocate known for his approachability, and his daily walks of the streets of St. John’s.
Gregory Selinger, 21st premier of Manitoba 2009-2016, MLA, city councillor, social worker (born 16 February 1951 in Regina, SK). Manitoba’s economy grew during Selinger’s seven years as premier, but he faced a public backlash over an increase in sales tax and an internal revolt from his party.
Dan George, OC, Tsleil-Waututh actor, poet, public speaker (born 24 July 1899 on the Burrard Indian Reserve No. 3 in BC; died 23 September 1981 in North Vancouver, BC). By his film roles and personal appearances, Dan George helped improve the popular image of Indigenous people, often represented in stereotypical ways.