Rita Joe (née Rita Bernard), CM, Mi’kmaq poet (born 15 March 1932 in Whycocomagh, NS; died 20 March 2007 in Sydney, NS). Often referred to as the poet laureate of the Mi’kmaq people, Rita Joe wrote powerful poetry that spoke about Indigenous identity and the legacy of residential schools in Canada. Her works continue to influence Indigenous and non-Indigenous writers and artists alike.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, OBE, writer (born 30 November 1874 in Clifton (now New London), PEI; died 24 April 1942 in Toronto, ON). Lucy Maud Montgomery is arguably Canada’s most widely read author. Her first novel, Anne of Green Gables (1908), became an instant bestseller and has remained in print for more than a century, making the character of Anne Shirley a mythic icon of Canadian culture. Montgomery’s body of work — more than 500 short stories, 21 novels, two poetry collections and numerous journal and essay anthologies — has sold an estimated 50 million copies worldwide. Anne of Green Gables alone has been translated into at least 36 languages as well as braille, and been adapted dozens of times in various mediums. Montgomery was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and the Literary and Artistic Institute of France, and declared a Person of National Historic Significance in Canada.
Emma Donoghue, novelist, literary historian, teacher, playwright, radio and film scriptwriter (born 24 October 1969 in Dublin, Ireland). Winner of the 2010 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, Emma Donoghue has introduced a fresh, if often jarring, voice in modern fiction produced by women. One of Canada’s most important contemporary literary figures, she is perhaps best known for the novel Room (2010), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and for the screenplay of its 2015 film adaptation, which earned Donoghue a Canadian Screen Award and an Independent Spirit Award, as well as BAFTA and Academy Award nominations.
"I sprang from the oars to my feet, and lifted the anchor above my head, threw it clear just as she was turning over. I grasped her gunwale and held on as she turned bottom up, for I suddenly remembered that I could not swim." - Joshua Slocum, Sailing Alone Around the World, 1900.
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, communication theorist (born 21 July 1911 in Edmonton, AB; died 31 December 1980 in Toronto, ON). Professor of English at the University of Toronto, McLuhan became internationally famous during the 1960s for his studies of the effects of mass media on thought and behaviour.
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.
Margaret Laurence (née Jean Margaret Wemyss), CC, novelist (born 18 July 1926 in Neepawa, MB; died 5 January 1987 in Lakefield, ON). A Companion of the Order of Canada and three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction, Margaret Laurence is one of the pivotal and foundational figures in women’s literature in Canada.
Tomson Highway, CM, playwright, novelist, pianist and songwriter (born 6 December 1951 in northwestern Manitoba). A Member of the Order of Canada and named in Maclean's magazine as one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history, Tomson Highway has proved himself one of Canada’s most prominent and influential writers.