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Article

Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

Emily Pauline Johnson (a.k.a. Tekahionwake, “double wampum”) poet, writer, artist, performer (born 10 March 1861 on the Six Nations Reserve, Canada West; died 7 March 1913 in VancouverBC). Pauline Johnson was one of North America’s most notable entertainers of the late 19th century. A mixed-race woman of Mohawk and European descent, she was a gifted writer and poised orator. She toured extensively, captivating audiences with her flair for the dramatic arts. Johnson made important contributions to Indigenous and Canadian oral and written culture. She is listed as a Person of National Historic Significance and her childhood home is a National Historic Site and museum. A monument in Vancouver’s Stanley Park commemorates her work and legacy. In 2016, she was one of 12 Canadian women in consideration to appear on a banknote. (See Women on Canadian Banknotes.)

Article

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.

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Jacques Hébert

Jacques Hébert, journalist, travel writer, publisher, Senator (born 21 June 1923 in Montreal, QC; died 6 December 2007 in Montreal). Jacques Hébert was a crusading Quebec journalist and a trailblazing book publisher before and during the Quiet Revolution. He founded Canada World Youth, an exchange program dedicated to world peace, and co-founded Katimavik, a youth program offering volunteer positions across the country. As a member of the Senate, Hébert held a 21-day fast to protest the government’s cancellation of funding for Katimavik. His travels took him to over 130 countries; notably, he visited the People’s Republic of China in 1960 with longtime friend Pierre Trudeau. Hébert was also a noted critic of Quebec premier Maurice Duplessis and a federalist who scorned Quebec nationalism. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978.

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Brent Carver

Brent Christopher Carver, actor (born 17 November 1951 in Cranbrook, BC; died 4 August 2020 in Cranbrook). Brent Carver was one of Canada’s most versatile and soulful actors. He tackled the classics at the Stratford Festival (1980–87) and gave critically acclaimed performances in musical theatre, cabaret and film. The New York Times described him as “sensitive, soft-spoken yet nakedly emotional.” His performance in the 1993 Broadway production of Kiss of the Spider Woman earned him a Tony Award. Associated with Robin Phillips, who directed him both at Stratford and at Theatre London (1983–84), Carver also worked closely with John Neville at Edmonton's Citadel Theatre. Carver received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2014.

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Canada’s Walk of Fame

Canada’s Walk of Fame is a nonprofit 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. One hundred and eighty people have been inducted since 1998.

Article

Kim Mitchell

Joseph Kim Mitchell, guitarist, singer, songwriter, broadcaster (born 10 July 1952 in Sarnia, Ontario). A talented, imaginative rock guitarist and a pop songwriter of considerable craft, Kim Mitchell has been a fixture on the Canadian music scene since the mid-1970s. He began as the manic front man of the quirky, progressive hard rock band Max Webster, and gained prominence as a solo artist in the 1980s with radio-friendly rock anthems such as “Go for Soda,” “Patio Lanterns” and “Rock N Roll Duty.” He later established himself as a popular radio personality and a mainstay on the summer festival circuit. He has sold more than 1.5 million records in Canada, earned 17 Juno nominations and won three Juno Awards. He was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2020.

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Lucille Starr

Lucille Raymonde Marie Savoie (later Regan and Cunningham), popular singer, country singer (born 13 May 1938 in St. Boniface, MB; died 4 September 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada). Lucille Starr was an internationally successful pop music and country singer, and one of a handful of Canadian popular musicians to record in both English and French. Her biggest hit was “The French Song” (“Quand le soleil dit bonjour aux montagnes”). It sold more than 7 million copies in 1964–65, making her the first Canadian woman to sell 1 million records. She was also the first Canadian woman to perform at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and the first Canadian woman inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Association Hall of Honour.

Article

Alfred Kunz

Alfred Leopold Kunz, composer, conductor, administrator (born 26 May 1929 in Neudorf, SK; died 16 January 2019 in Kitchener-Waterloo, ON). Alfred Kunz studied composition and conducting 1949–55 at the RCMT and for several summers in the 1960s with Stockhausen and others in Europe. In 1965 he completed the state examinations in choral conducting at the Musikhochschule in Mainz and was assistant conductor of the Mainz City Opera Theatre. He began teaching in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1955. He organized the Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber Music Orchestra and Choir in 1959 and was organist-choirmaster 1959-64 at Mount Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Article

Alex Trebek

George Alexander Trebek, OC, television host, human rights spokesperson, journalist (born 22 July 1940 in Sudbury, ON; died 8 November 2020 in Los Angeles, California). Alex Trebek is a pop culture icon, best known as the long-time host of the TV game show Jeopardy! He began his broadcasting career at the CBC, where he hosted the music variety program Music Hop (1963–64) and the popular teen quiz show Reach for the Top (1966–73). He won five Daytime Emmy Awards from 30 nominations for Outstanding Game Show Host, and he holds the Guinness World Record for the most game shows hosted by the same presenter. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he received a Peabody Award and several lifetime achievement and hall of fame honours, including stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

Article

Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox (born Michael Andrew Fox), OC, actor, producer, author (born 9 June 1961 Fox in EdmontonAB). Michael J. Fox is best known for his roles in the Back to the Future trilogy and in the TV series Family Ties and Spin City. The recipient of several Emmy Awards and Golden Globe Awards, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fox, who has Parkinson’s disease, founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000. He has received a number of humanitarian awards and honorary degrees and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Article

Salome Bey

Salome Bey, singer, actress, songwriter (born 1939 in Newark, New Jersey; died 8 August 2020 in Toronto, ON). Salome Bey was an award-winning jazz, blues and R&B singer. Known as “Canada’s First Lady of the Blues,” she often appeared with her daughters Jacintha Tuku and Saidah Baba Talibah, who accompanied her as the Relatives. Bey wrote and starred in Indigo, a Dora Award-winning history of the blues, and was part of the all-star lineup of Canadian singers who produced the charity single “Tears Are not Enough,” Bey received a Toronto Arts Award and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for lifetime achievement from the Black Theatre Workshop of Montreal. She was inducted as an honorary member of the Order of Canada.

Article

Nick Cordero

Nicholas Eduardo Alberto Cordero, actor, dancer, musician (born 17 September 1978 in Hamilton, Ontario; died 5 July 2020 in Los Angeles, California). Nick Cordero came to prominence with the 2014 Broadway production of Bullets Over Broadway, which earned him a Tony Award nomination. The imposing, six-foot-five actor also played many gangsters in film and television productions. His life was cut short in 2020 due to complications from COVID-19.

Article

Anna Leonowens

Anna Harriette Edwards Leonowens (born 6 November 1831 in Ahmadnagar, India; died 19 January 1915 in Montreal, Quebec). Anna Leonowens was an educator, author and lecturer who became famous as the British governess to the wives and children of King Mongkut (Rama IV) of Siam (now Thailand) in the 1860s. After leaving Siam, she emigrated to Canada, where she advocated for women’s suffrage, taught at McGill University and helped found what is now the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She was the inspiration for Margaret Landon’s historical novel, Anna and the King of Siam (1944), and the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I (1951).

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Richard Gwyn

Richard John Philip Jermy Gwyn, OC, journalist, author, bureaucrat (born 26 May 1934 in Bury St. Edmunds, England; died 15 August 2020 in Toronto, ON). Richard Gwyn was one of Canada’s preeminent political analysts. He spent 30 years as a columnist with the Toronto Star, winning two National Newspapers Awards and a National Magazine Award. He was a regular panelist on public affairs programs and published several award-winning books, including definitive biographies of Joey Smallwood, Pierre Trudeau and Sir John A. Macdonald. Gwyn was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002 and served as Chancellor of St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo from 2002 to 2007.

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Jackie Shane

Jackie Shane, singer (born 15 May 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee; died 22 February 2019 in Nashville). Jackie Shane was a pioneering transgender performer who was a prominent figure in Toronto’s R&B scene in the 1960s. Her cover of William Bell’s “Any Other Way” reached No. 2 on the CHUM singles chart in 1963. Her 1967 live album, Jackie Shane Live, was reissued in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize’s 1960–1970 Heritage Award. Any Other Way, an anthology album of songs from Shane’s career and monologues from her live shows, was released in 2017. It was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Historical Album. Shane is featured in a mural on the side of a building in downtown Toronto commemorating the Yonge Street music scene of the 1960s.

Article

Josiah Henson

Josiah Henson, spiritual leader, author, founder of the Black community settlement at Dawn, Canada West (born 15 June 1789 in Charles County, Maryland; died 5 May 1883 in Dresden, ON). Born enslaved, Henson escaped to Upper Canada in 1830.

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George Godfrey

George Godfrey, boxer (born 20 March 1853 in Charlottetown, PEI; died 18 October 1901 in Revere, Massachusetts). George Godfrey was a successful Black Canadian boxer who began his career at the age of 26. He won the World Colored Heavyweight championship in 1883 and held the title for five years. Godfrey retired in 1896 after competing in over 100 fights. He was the first of many great Black Canadian boxers from the Maritimes; others included George Dixon and Sam Langford. Godfrey was inducted into the PEI Sports Hall of Fame in 1990.

Article

Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna)

Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve (a.k.a. Onoto Watanna), author, screenwriter (born 21 August 1875 in Montreal, QC; died 8 April 1954 in Butte, Montana). Winnifred Eaton achieved literary fame under the pseudonym Onoto Watanna. She was the first person of Asian descent to publish a novel in the United States — Miss Numè of Japan (1899) — and to reach a mainstream audience. Her novel A Japanese Nightingale (1901) was adapted into a Broadway play and a motion picture. She also wrote screenplays for Hollywood and two novels, Cattle (1924) and His Royal Nibs (1925), about ranching life in Alberta.

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Janette Bertrand

Janette Bertrand, CCCQ, journalist, actor, author, playwright, feminist (born 25 March 1925 in Montreal, Quebec). A leading figure in Quebec television, Janette Bertrand has left a profound mark on journalism and culture in Quebec. She is renowned for her frank, sincere approach to social issues that had never before been addressed on Quebec television, such as sexual relationships, homosexuality, AIDSsuicide, and violence against women. She has long been recognized for her progressive stances on social issues and her role in educating the public about them. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec.

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