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Catharine Parr Traill

Catharine Parr Traill, née Strickland, pioneer writer, botanist (born 9 January 1802 in London, England; died 29 August 1899 in Lakefield, ON). Catharine Parr Traill’s books are some of the earliest in the Canadian literary canon. Works such as The Backwoods of Canada: Being Letters from the Wife of an Emigrant Officer (1836) offer detailed descriptions of pioneer life in Canada, while Canadian Wildflowers (1868) and Studies of Plant Life in Canada (1885) showcase her skill as an amateur botanist.

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Irving Abella

Irving Martin Abella, CM, O Ont, FRSC, historian, professor, administrator (born 2 July 1940 in Toronto, ON; died 3 July 2022). Irving Abella was a professor of history at York University from 1968 to 2013. He was a pioneer in the field of Canadian labour history and also specialized in the history of Jewish people in Canada. Abella was co-author of the book None Is Too Many: Canada and the Jews of Europe 1933–1948, which documented antisemitism in the Canadian government’s immigration policies. Abella served as president of the Canadian Jewish Congress from 1992 to 1995 and helped establish the Centre for Jewish Studies at York University. He was a Member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

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Igor Gouzenko

Igor Sergeievitch Gouzenko, Soviet intelligence officer, author (born 26 January 1919 in Rogachev, Russia; died 25 June 1982 in Mississauga, ON). Igor Gouzenko was a Soviet cipher clerk stationed at the Soviet Union’s Ottawa embassy during the Second World War. Just weeks after the end of the war, Gouzenko defected to the Canadian government with proof that his country had been spying on its wartime allies: Canada, Britain and the United States. This prompted what is known as the Gouzenko Affair. Gouzenko sought asylum for himself and his family in Canada. His defection caused a potentially dangerous international crisis. Many historians consider it the beginning of the Cold War.

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Red Jacket (Otetiani)

Red Jacket (Otetiani), Indigenous leader (born 1750 near Canoga, Seneca County, New York; died 30 January 1830 at Seneca Village, near Buffalo, New York). Otetiani was also known as Red Jacket. This is based on an ornate red officer's coat he received from the British. He received this coat in recognition of wartime service during the American Revolution. He supported the American side during the War of 1812.

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William Kennedy

William Kennedy, explorer (born 26 April 1814 probably at Cumberland House, Rupert's Land; died 25 January 1890 at St Andrews, Red River Settlement).

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Acadian Heritage

This collection explores the rich heritage of the Acadians through articles and exhibits, as well as quizzes on arts and culture, history and politics, historical figures, and places associated with the Acadian people.

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Canada’s Walk of Fame

Canada’s Walk of Fame is a non-profit organization dedicated to honouring Canadians who have achieved excellence in the fields of arts and entertainment, science and technology, business, philanthropy, and athletics. Modelled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it stretches along 13 city blocks in Toronto’s Entertainment District. Each inductee’s name and signature are etched onto a plaque embedded on the sidewalk, along with a star resembling a maple leaf. Inductees are honoured at an annual, nationally broadcast gala in Toronto. More than 210 people have been inducted since the Walk was founded in 1998.

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Pierre Elliott Trudeau

Pierre Elliott Trudeau, PC, CC, CH, FRSC, prime minister of Canada 1968–79 and 1980–84, politician, writer, constitutional lawyer (born 18 October 1919 in Montreal, QC; died 28 September 2000 in Montreal). A charismatic and controversial figure, Pierre Trudeau was arguably Canada’s best-known politician, both at home and abroad. He introduced legal reforms to make Canada a more “just society” and made Canada officially bilingual with the Official Languages Act of 1969. He negotiated Canada’s constitutional independence from Britain and established a new Canadian Constitution with a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He played an important role in defeating the Quebec separatist movement of the 1970s and 1980s; although his decision to invoke the War Measures Act in response to the 1970 October Crisis drew sharp criticism. His federalist stance as well as his language and economic policies alienated many in Canada, particularly in the West. His eldest son, Justin Trudeau, became leader of the Liberal Party in 2013 and prime minister in 2015.

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Gloria Baylis

Gloria Leon Baylis (née Clarke), registered nurse, civil rights activist, founder and owner of Baylis Medical Company (born 29 June 1929 in Barbados, died 12 April 2017 in Montreal, QC). Baylis, a British-trained Caribbean migrant nurse was the key witness in Her Majesty the Queen, Complainant v. Hilton of Canada Ltd., Accused. (See also Caribbean Canadians.) On 2 September 1964, one day following the introduction of the Act Respecting Discrimination in Employment in Quebec, Baylis inquired about a permanent part-time nursing position at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (QEH), which was operated by Hilton of Canada. Baylis was told that the position had already been filled. With the support of the Negro Citizenship Association (NCA), Baylis filed a complaint. On 4 October 1965, the court found that Hilton of Canada had violated the Act. For 11 years, Hilton of Canada appealed the ruling. On 19 January 1977, the Court of Appeal of Quebec upheld the initial conviction, a fine of $25 and related costs. This case is significant because it is the first time in Canadian history that an institution had been found guilty of racial discrimination in employment. (See also Prejudice and Discrimination in Canada.)

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Tommy Prince

Thomas George Prince, war hero, Indigenous advocate (born 25 October 1915 in Petersfield, MB; died 25 November 1977 in Winnipeg, MB). Tommy Prince of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation is one of the most-decorated Indigenous war veterans in Canada, having been awarded a total of 11 medals for his service in the Second World War and the Korean War. When he died, he was honoured at his funeral by his First Nation, the province of Manitoba, Canada and the governments of France, Italy and the United States. ( See also Indigenous Peoples and the World Wars.)

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Louise McKinney

Louise McKinney (née Crummy), Alberta MLA (1917–21), women’s rights activist, lay preacher (born 22 September 1868 in Frankville, ON; died 10 July 1931 in Claresholm, AB). Louise McKinney was the first woman elected to a legislature in Canada and in the British Empire. She was a member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and a devout Methodist and prohibitionist. She was a pioneer suffragist and one of the Famous Five behind the Persons Case, the successful campaign to have women declared persons in the eyes of British law. She was also instrumental in passing Alberta’s Dower Act in 1917. However, her views on immigration and eugenics have been criticized as racist and elitist. She was named a Person of National Historic Significance in 1939 and an honorary senator in 2009.

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Patriation of the Constitution

In 1982, Canada fully broke from its colonial past and “patriated” its Constitution. It transferred the country’s highest law, the British North America Act (which was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867), from the authority of the British Parliament to Canada’s federal and provincial legislatures. The Constitution was also updated with a new amending formula and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These changes occurred after a fierce, 18-month political and legal struggle that dominated headlines and the agendas of every government in the country.

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Rupert Raj

Rupert Raj, transgender activist, trans social author, former psychotherapist (born 10 February 1952 in Ottawa, ON). Raj is a transgender pioneer who dedicated his career to clinical research, counselling and advocacy for the transgender community. Raj established (and co-established) some of Canada's earliest trans advocacy organizations, including the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Transsexuals (disbanded). Raj also established the first known national transsexual newsletter in Canada, Gender Review: A FACTual Journal. (See also Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights in Canada.)

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Saint André

Saint André (né Alfred Bessette), faith healer, religious counsellor (born 9 August 1845 in St-Grégoire-d'Iberville, Canada East; died 6 January 1937 in Montréal, QC).

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Clement Ligoure

Clement Courtenay Ligoure, physician (born 13 October 1887 in Trinidad; died 23 May 1922 Port of Spain, Trinidad). Dr. Ligoure was Halifax’s first Black doctor and an unsung hero of the Halifax Explosion, as he treated hundreds of patients free of charge in his home medical office. Dr. Ligoure was also instrumental in the formation of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada’s first and only all-Black battalion (see Black Canadians; Caribbean Canadians).

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Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Camberton Shadd Cary, educator, publisher, lawyer, abolitionist (born 9 October 1823 in Wilmington, Delaware; died 5 June 1893 in Washington, D.C.). Mary Ann Shadd became the first Black woman in North America to publish and edit a newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. As one of the first Black newspaperwomen in North America, Shadd promoted the abolition of slavery and the emigration of African Americans to Canada ( see Black Canadians; Black Enslavement in Canada; Slavery Abolition Act, 1833). She also advocated on behalf of women’s rights (see Women’s Movements in Canada).

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The Provincial Freeman

In 1959, an article in the Journal of Negro History announced the discovery of copies of a weekly newspaper long believed lost to history. A sizeable print run of a dust-covered bound volume of The Provincial Freeman, which was published from 1853 to 1860, had been sitting in the library tower at the University of Pennsylvania since the early 1900s. What made this newspaper unique was not just that it was the second paper run by and for African Canadians. It made history as the first newspaper in North America to be published and edited by a Black woman, Mary Ann Shadd.

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Calixa Lavallée

Callixte Lavallée, composer, pianist, conductor, teacher, administrator, soldier (born 28 December 1842 in Verchères, Canada East; died 21 January 1891 in Boston, Massachusetts). A pioneer in music both in Canada and the United States, Calixa Lavallée was considered one of the “national glories” of Quebec. He is best known for composing the music for “O Canada” and was twice president of the Académie de musique de Québec. Despite this vaunted stature, he spent much of his life outside Canada, served with the Union Army during the American Civil War and called for Canada to be annexed by the United States. The Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée, awarded by the St-Jean-Baptiste Society of Montreal for outstanding contributions to the music of Quebec, is named in his honour.