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Matt Cohen, novelist, short story writer, poet, author of children’s books (born 30 December 1942 in Kingston, ON; died 2 December 1999 in Toronto, ON).
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.
Donald Leslie McManus, bass, actor (born 30 August 1932 in Edmonton, AB; died 24 February 2020 in Toronto, ON). While studying voice 1950-8 in Vancouver with Anna Nicholls and William Morton, he made his acting debut (1952) at TUTS. Dramatic and singing engagements followed with such organizations as the Vancouver International Festival (1958, Commendatore in Don Giovanni), the Bastion Theatre in Victoria, the Vancouver Opera, Melodyland in Berkeley, Cal, and the J.C. Williamson Theatre Co in Australia, which invited him to perform in several Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.
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.
Daniel Grafton Hill IV, singer, songwriter, guitarist, writer (born 3 June 1954 in Toronto, ON). Dan Hill is a successful adult contemporary singer and songwriter. Known for his plaintive voice and unabashedly sentimental lyrics, he achieved international stardom at age 23 with the hit single “Sometimes When We Touch.” In addition to his solo work, Hill has enjoyed a long career as a pop and country songwriter. He has amassed over 100 million in sales for his songs, which have been recorded by such artists as Céline Dion, Britney Spears, Alan Jackson and Reba McEntire. Hill has won five Juno Awards, a Grammy Award, five SOCAN Awards for outstanding radio airplay in Canada, and six ASCAP Awards for airplay in the United States. He was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021.
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.
Kim Thúy, CQ, writer (born 18 September 1968 in Saigon, Vietnam). The winner of several prestigious literary awards for her first novel, Ru, this Quebec writer of Vietnamese origin is known for her short and elegant stories. Her novels deal with the migrant experience and the challenges of adapting to a new culture. Written in French, which Thúy calls her “second mother tongue,” they have been translated into 15 languages.
Mordecai Richler, CC, novelist, essayist, social critic (born 27 January 1931 in Montréal, QC; died 3 July 2001 in Montréal, QC). A singular figure in Canadian literary and cultural history, Richler remained, in the words of critic Robert Fulford, “the loyal opposition to the governing principles of Canadian culture” throughout his long and productive career. His instincts were to ask hard, uncomfortable questions and to take clear, often unpopular moral positions. Born into an Orthodox family in Montréal’s old Jewish neighborhood, a community he immortalized in his work, he was from the start a complex and uncompromising figure, at once rejecting many of the formal tenets of his faith while embracing its intellectual and ethical rigour. That tension, along with an innately absurdist vision of life, a raw, bracing comedic sensibility, and a fearlessness about speaking his mind, as both artist and citizen, ensured that nearly every word he published displayed a distinctive sensibility. No one else sounded like Mordecai Richler, and few other writers in Canada have ever demanded, and maintained, such a high profile as both an admired literary novelist and a frequently controversial critic. A Companion of the Order of Canada, two-time winner of the Governor General’s Award (1968 and 1971), and winner of the Giller Prize, Mordecai Richler is without question one of Canada’s greatest writers.
Daisy Peterson Sweeney
Daisy Elitha Sweeney (née Peterson), teacher, pianist, organist (born 7 May 1920 in Montréal, QC; died 11 August 2017 in Montréal). An accomplished musician in her own right, Daisy Peterson Sweeney is perhaps best known as the older sister, and early teacher, of celebrated jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. She also taught other notable Montréal jazz pianists, including Oliver Jones and Joe Sealey.