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Denis Côté

Denis Côté, writer, producer, director, critic (born 16 November 1973 in Grand Falls, NB). Filmmaker Denis Côté has won acclaim and awards in Canada and internationally for his independent features and documentaries. He is known as an uncompromising and prolific maverick who challenges audiences rather than offering crystal clear, classically structured narratives. A former film critic, Côté writes, directs and produces films that are starkly minimalist, strangely poetic, dryly funny and thematically enigmatic. His deadpan style and marginalized characters have earned him an international reputation as one of Canada’s leading auteurs.

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Catherine O'Hara

Catherine Anne O'Hara, actor, writer, singer (born 4 March 1954 in Toronto, ON). Catherine O’Hara is one of Canada’s most prominent comedic actors. She is perhaps best known for her work in television on SCTV(1976–79, 1981–83) and Schitt’s Creek (2015–20), as well as for her roles in Home Alone (1990) and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), and her many collaborations with director Christopher Guest. The winner of Emmy, Golden Globe, Gemini, Genie and Canadian Screen Awards, she is an Officer of the Order of Canadaand a member of Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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Maestro Fresh Wes

Wesley Williams (a.k.a. Maestro Fresh Wes, Maestro), rapper, actor, author, motivational speaker (born 31 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). A pioneering hip-hop recording artist, Maestro Fresh Wes is often regarded as the “godfather of Canadian hip hop.” His debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), was the first album by a Black Canadian artist to be certified platinum in Canada. It yielded the hit single “Let Your Backbone Slide,” one of the most successful and influential Canadian songs of all time. In 2019, it became the first rap song to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Maestro has been nominated for 13 Juno Awards and won two, including the inaugural award for Rap Recording of the Year in 1991. He was named No. 1 on CBC Music’s 2013 list of the greatest Canadian rappers. He has become a successful actor, author and motivational speaker while remaining a prominent figure in Canadian hip hop.

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Clement Virgo

Clement Virgo, director, producer, writer (b at Montego Bay, Jamaica 1 June 1966). Clement Virgo came with his family to Canada in 1977 and attended West Preparatory Public School in north Toronto before the family moved to Regent Park, the city's largest public-housing estate, known for its troubles with drugs and crime.

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Portia White

Portia May White, contralto, teacher (born 24 June 1911 in Truro, NS; died 13 February 1968 in Toronto, ON). Portia White was the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. She was considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century. Her voice was described by one critic as “a gift from heaven.” She was often compared to the celebrated African American contralto Marian Anderson. The Nova Scotia Talent Trust was established in 1944 specifically to enable White to concentrate on her professional career. She was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.

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Mary Riter Hamilton

Mary Matilda Hamilton (née Riter), artist (born 7 September c. 1867 in Teeswater, ON; died 5 April 1954 in Coquitlam, BC). Mary Riter Hamilton was a painter who exhibited her works in Europe and across Canada. Shortly after the fighting stopped, Hamilton travelled to Europe to paint First World War battlefield landscapes before they were cleared (see War Artists). She produced over 350 works in three years, which are a document of the destruction and devastation caused by the war.

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Oliver Jones

Oliver Theophilus Jones, OC, CQ, pianist, organist, composer, arranger (born 11 September 1934 in Montreal, QC). A musical prodigy, Oliver Jones is one of the best-known and most talented Canadian jazz pianists of all time. He studied piano in his youth with Daisy Peterson Sweeney, sister of Oscar Peterson, and spent much of his career working in pop and variety settings. Jones drew critical notice for his technical dexterity and rollicking swing, often eliciting comparisons to Peterson. He received Félix Awards in 1989, 1994, 2007 and 2008, and Juno Awards in 1986 and 2009. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec.

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Jean Beaudin

Jean Beaudin, COQ, director, writer, editor (born 6 February 1939 in Montreal, QC; died 18 May 2019 in Montreal). Film director Jean Beaudin is perhaps best known for J.A. Martin, photographe (1977). Considered one of best Canadian films of all time, it won major awards at the Cannes Film Festival and at the Canadian Film Awards. Beaudin also won acclaim for his adaptions of Quebec literature, including the hugely popular TV series Les Filles de Caleb (1990–91). He was made a Chevalier in the Ordre national du Québec and received a Governor General’s Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award.

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Christopher Plummer

Arthur Christopher Orme Plummer, actor (born 13 December 1929 in Toronto, ON; died 5 February 2021 in Weston, Connecticut). Christopher Plummer, a great-grandson of Prime Minister  Sir John Abbott, was an international star who worked widely on stage and in film and television in the US, Britain and Canada. He was Canada’s most distinguished movie star in the classical mould — the New York Times hailed him as “the finest classical actor in America.” He took on innumerable larger-than-life roles, including Cyrano de Bergerac, King Lear, Hamlet, Rudyard Kipling, John Barrymore, and Baron von Trapp in The Sound of Music (1965), one of the most popular films of all time. He won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, two Tony Awards, two Emmy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Film Independent Spirit Award, a Canadian Screen Award and a Genie Award. He received lifetime achievement awards from the Governors General’s Awards, the Canadian Screen Awards and the National Arts Club of America. A Companion of the Order of Canada, he was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame and Canada's Walk of Fame.

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Margaret Laurence

Margaret Laurence (née Jean Margaret Wemyss), CC, novelist (born 18 July 1926 in Neepawa, MB; died 5 January 1987 in Lakefield, ON). Margaret Laurence was one of the pivotal and foundational figures in women’s literature in Canada. Two of her novels — A Jest of God (1966) and The Diviners (1974) — won the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction. She also wrote acclaimed poetry, short stories and children’s literature, helped found the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Trust of Canada, and served as chancellor of Trent University. She was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1972 and was named a Person of National Historic Significance by the government of Canada in 2018.

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John McIntyre

John McIntyre, pianist, teacher (born 23 June 1938 in Sarnia, ON). John McIntyre is an award-winning pianist and professor of piano. He has performed with such distinguished conductors as Walter Susskind and Sir Ernest MacMillan. McIntyre has taught at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory since 1975.

Article

Hugh Fraser

Hugh Alexander Fraser, pianist, trombonist, composer, teacher (born 26 October 1958 in Victoria, BC; died 17 June 2020). Two-time Juno Award-winner Hugh Fraser enjoyed great success with his 13-piece big band Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation (VEJI, or “Veggie”) and with the Hugh Fraser Quintet. He composed over 200 jazz works, including many commissions, and taught at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the University of Victoria. He set up the diploma jazz program at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in 2001. Jazz Report named Fraser Canadian trombonist of the year in 1996 and 1998.

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Norm Amadio

Albert Norman Benedict Amadio, pianist (born 14 April 1928 in Timmins, ON; died 22 January 2020). Norm Amadio was a prominent figure in Toronto’s jazz scene for more than 60 years. Journalist Peter Goddard called him “unquestionably the finest accompanist in Canadian jazz history.” He was also a member of many studio orchestras and a music director for the CBC for many years. He received a lifetime achievement award from the Toronto Musicians’ Association in 2016.

Article

Louise André

Louise André (born Jeanne Baril), soprano, teacher (born 26 February 1913 in St-Tite, near Trois-Rivières, QC; died 10 April 2001 in Montreal, QC). Louise André devoted her life to the teaching of the vocal arts. She taught at the École Vincent-d’Indy (1935–82) and at the Université de Montréal (1965–83), where she was made a professor emeritus in 1980. She also taught at the Conservatoire de Chicoutimi (1967–72) and at the University of Ottawa (1972–77). André was president of the AMQ from 1984 to 1987. She received the Canadian Music Council Medal in 1985 and the Prix de musique Calixa-Lavallée in 1991.

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Wayson Choy

Wayson Choy, CM, writer, teacher (born 20 April 1939 in Vancouver. BC; died 28 April 2019 in Toronto, ON). Wayson Choy was an influential Chinese Canadian novelist, memoirist and short-story writer. His debut novel, The Jade Peony (1995), tells an intimate tale of an immigrant family living in Vancouver’s Chinatown during the Second World War. It won the Trillium Book Award and the City of Vancouver Book Award in 1996. His second novel, All That Matters (2004), won the Trillium Book Award and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. His first memoir, Paper Shadows: A Chinatown Childhood (1999), won the Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction. An openly gay man, Choy was also an advocate for LGBTQ2S rights as well as a dedicated teacher and mentor.

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Priscila Uppal

Priscila Uppal, FRSC, poet, novelist, playwright, professor (born 30 October 1974 in Ottawa, ON; died 5 September 2018 in Toronto, ON). Dubbed “Canada’s coolest poet,” Priscila Uppal was a politically pointed voice in contemporary Canadian poetry. Her writing addressed issues surrounding women, violence, sexuality, culture, religion, illness and loss. Her works were shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and a Governor General’s Literary Award. She was named the Canadian Athletes Now Fund poet-in-residence for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics, and the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in London, England. She also taught creative writing and English literature at York University.

Article

Karen Kain

Karen Alexandria Kain, CC, OOnt, dancer, artistic director, arts administrator (born 28 March 1951 in Hamilton, ON). Karen Kain is one of Canada's finest and most internationally renowned dancers. In her 28 years as a dancer with the National Ballet of Canada (NBC), she won renown for her strong technique, breadth of movement, sensitive musicality, daring attack and versatile dramatic ability. Her repertoire spanned both classical and contemporary works, including all the major full-length ballerina roles and a range of leading roles in shorter works. She continued working with the NBC beyond her retirement as a ballerina; she served as the company’s artistic director from May 2005 until January 2021 and is now artistic director emeritus. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France, and a Member of the Order of Ontario and Canada’s Walk of Fame. She has received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement and numerous other honours.