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Tilly Jean Rolston, Canadian politician (born 23 February 1887 in Vancouver, BC; died 12 October 1953 in Vancouver, BC). Rolston was best known for her service as education minister for the province of British Columbia in the Social Credit government of W.A.C. Bennett in the early 1950s. She has the distinction of being the second woman cabinet minister elected in that province, but the first with a portfolio in all of Canada. Rolston was instrumental in developing a new financing formula for the funding of BC’s public schools, and also instituted the province’s first sex education curriculum. She is noted for being the first woman in British Columbia to receive a state funeral upon her death.
John Graves Simcoe
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.
Murray Sinclair or Mizanay (Mizhana) Gheezhik, meaning “The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky” in the Ojibwe language, lawyer, judge and senator (born in 1951 in Selkirk, MB). Called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980, Sinclair focused primarily on civil and criminal litigation, Indigenous law and human rights. In 1988, he became Manitoba’s first, and Canada’s second, Indigenous judge. Sinclair joined the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009, before becoming a senator in 2016. He retired from the Senate in 2021 but continues to mentor Indigenous lawyers. The breadth of public service and community work completed by Sinclair demonstrates his commitment to Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Dominique Anglade, politician, engineer, businesswoman (born 31 January 1974 in Montreal, Quebec). Anglade was the leader of the Quebec Liberal Party from 2020 to 2022. She was the first Black person to lead a major provincial political party in Quebec.
David Currie, VC
David Vivian Currie, VC, auto mechanic, welder, soldier, House of Commons sergeant-at-arms (born 8 July 1912 in Sutherland, SK; died 24 June 1986 in Ottawa, ON). During the Second World War, Major Currie was the only member of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.
Marie-Claire Kirkland-Casgrain, CM, CQ, first female member of Québec’s National Assembly (born 8 September 1924 in Palmer, Massachusetts; died 24 March 2016). A lawyer by training, Kirkland-Casgrain became the first female member of the National Assembly of Québec on 14 December 1961. She left her mark on Québec’s political history in 1964 by spearheading the passage of Bill 16, which improved the legal status of married women (see Women’s Movement). For more than 12 years, she was the only woman to sit as a member of the National Assembly among some 100 male colleagues. Throughout her career, she dedicated herself to improving the political, economic and social status of women in Québec.
Ken Sim, entrepreneur, politician, mayor of Vancouver 2022– (born 18 October 1970 in Vancouver, BC). Ken Sim worked as an accountant and investment banker before co-founding two successful businesses: Nurse Next Door and Rosemary Rocksalt bagels. Sim made an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Vancouver in 2018, losing to Kennedy Stewart by 957 votes. In 2022, he and his A Better City (ABC) Party won a majority government with a platform that stressed law and order and public safety. Sim is the first Chinese Canadian to be elected mayor of Vancouver.
John Foote, VC
John Weir Foote, VC, Presbyterian minister, soldier, Member of (Ontario) Provincial Parliament, cabinet minister (born 5 May 1904 in Madoc, ON; died 2 May 1988 in Cobourg, ON). During the Second World War, Honorary Captain John Foote was the only Canadian chaplain to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire.
Prince William (HRH The Prince of Wales)
His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales (Prince William), first in line to the thrones of Canada, the United Kingdom and 13 other Commonwealth realms (born 21 June 1982 in London, United Kingdom). The Prince is a grandson of Her Majesty (HM) The Queen (1926-2022) and the elder son of the British monarch, King Charles III, and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. As the leading member of the youngest working generation of the royal family, William has contributed to modernizing the monarchy’s image for the 21st century by his willingness to update royal traditions. He is married to Catherine Middleton, now the Princess of Wales, and has three children, Prince George of Wales (born 22 July 2013), Princess Charlotte of Wales (born 2 May 2015), and Prince Louis of Wales (born 23 April 2018).
French Canada and the Monarchy
French Canadian attitudes toward monarchical government and members of the French and, later, British royal families have changed over time. King Louis XIV of France made New France a crown colony and supported its expansion and economic development. King George III of Great Britain granted royal assent to the Quebec Act in 1774, which guaranteed freedom of worship and French Canadian property rights. Early royal tours of Quebec were well received by the public. There was republican sentiment expressed during the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837, however, and support for the monarchy in Quebec declined sharply following the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s. Today, polling data indicates that a majority of people in Quebec support the abolition of the monarchy in Canada.
Joseph Howe, journalist, publisher, politician, premier of Nova Scotia, lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia (born 13 December 1804 in Halifax, NS; died 1 June 1873 in Halifax, NS). Howe was well-known in his time as an ardent defender of freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and was also a champion of responsible government. He was a prominent figure in the movement opposed to Confederation, yet later, as a federal Cabinet minister, played an important role in securing Manitoba’s entry to Confederation.
Sir Charles Bagot
Sir Charles Bagot, diplomat (born 23 Sept 1781 at Blithfield Hall, England; died 19 May 1843 in Kingston, Canada). Born to a wealthy and influential family, Bagot was elected to the British Parliament in 1807. He served in the cabinet as undersecretary of state for foreign affairs before appointments as Britain’s minister to France (1814), the United States (1816-19), Russia (1820-24), and the Netherlands (1824-32). As Britain’s minister to the United States, he negotiated the 1817 Rush-Bagot Agreement which reduced the number of military ships on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain and helped secure the Canadian-American border. From 1841-43, he served as Governor General of the Province of Canada, advancing responsible government and French-English equality in the colony.
John Howard Tory, OOnt, lawyer, broadcaster, business executive, politician, mayor of Toronto 2014–23 (born 28 May 1954 in Toronto, ON). John Tory has been a prominent figure in Ontario business and politics since the early 1980s. He worked behind the scenes on federal and provincial political campaigns before serving as leader of Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party (2004–09) and as an MPP (2005–07). He also served as CEO of Rogers Media Inc. (1995–99) and commissioner of the Canadian Football League (1997–2000). In 2014, he was elected the 65th mayor of Toronto. He handily won a third term in October 2022, but resigned in February 2023 after admitting to an affair with a staff member.
North-West Mounted Police
The North-West Mounted Police (NWMP) was the forerunner of Canada's iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Created after Confederation to police the frontier territories of the Canadian West, the NWMP ended the whiskey trade on the southern prairies and the violence that came with it. They helped the federal government suppress the North-West Resistance and brought order to the Klondike Gold Rush. The NWMP pioneered the enforcement of federal law in the West, and the Arctic, from 1873 until 1920.
Under Canada’s constitutional monarchy, the sovereign is head of state, the legal foundation of the executive branch of government and one part of Parliament — along with the Senate and House of Commons. The current sovereign of Canada is King Charles III. The sovereign is represented in Canada by the governor general, lieutenant-governors and territorial commissioners and acts on the advice of the prime minister, the head of government.
Deskaheh (also known as Levi General), Cayuga (Gayogohó:no') chief and speaker of the Six Nations Hereditary Council (born in 1873 on the Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, ON; died on 25 June 1925 at the Tuscarora Reservation, New York). A member of the Longhouse religion, Deskaheh insisted that the Six Nations retain their languages and distinctive culture.
Princess Anne (HRH The Princess Royal)
Princess Anne (HRH The Princess Royal) (born 15 August 1950 in London, United Kingdom), the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II (1926 to 2022). An accomplished equestrian and member of the International Olympic Committee, she competed in the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal. She is Colonel-in-Chief of seven Canadian military regiments and patron of numerous Canadian charities and organizations.
Numbered Treaties (Plain-Language Summary)
The Numbered Treaties are a series of 11 treaties. A treaty is an agreement between two or more nations. The Numbered Treaties were signed by the Canadian government and Indigenous people. All 11 treaties were signed between 1871 and 1921. The Numbered Treaties cover parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario. They also cover portions of Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
The treaties provided the Canadian government with land. The government wanted land for industrial development and white settlement. In exchange, the government promised Indigenous people special rights and benefits. These treaty terms are controversial and contested. The Numbered Treaties have ongoing legal, social, and economic impacts on Indigenous communities. (See also Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
(This is a plain-language summary of the Numbered Treaties. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry, Numbered Treaties.)
Donald H. Oliver, QC, CM, ONS, senator 1990–2013, lawyer, businessman (born 16 November 1938 in Wolfville, NS). Halifax lawyer Donald Oliver has been involved as a senior official in the Progressive Conservative Party since 1972. In 1990, he became the second Black Canadian and the first Black Canadian man to be appointed to the Senate of Canada. Oliver served as a senator until 2013. He is a Member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.