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Alison Sydor

Alison Jane Sydor, OBC, cyclist (born 9 September 1966 in Edmonton, AB). Alison Sydor is considered one of Canada’s best cyclists and one of the best mountain bike cyclists ever. She won 17 World Cup medals in cross-country cycling, including four gold, and 13 World Championship medals, including three gold. After winning silver in the first Olympic mountain bike event in 1996, Sydor was named International Cyclist of the Year by Velo News and received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year. She also competed in road racing; she won the National Road Championships four times and was the first Canadian woman to medal in an individual international road race. Sydor has been inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.

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Aziz Ahmad

Aziz Ahmad, novelist, short story writer, critic, translator, historian (born 11 November 1914 in Hyderabad Deccan [present-day India]; died 16 December 1978 in Toronto, ON).

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Indigenous Suffrage

From the colonial era to the present, the Canadian electoral system has evolved in ways that have affected Indigenous suffrage (the right to vote in public elections). Voting is a hallmark of Canadian citizenship, but not all Indigenous groups (particularly status Indians) have been given this historic right due to political, socio-economic and ethnic restrictions. Today, Canada’s Indigenous peoples — defined in Section 35 (2) of the Constitution Act, 1982 as Indians (First Nations), Métis and Inuit — can vote in federal, provincial, territorial and local elections.

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James Murray

His willingness to allow French law and custom in the courts further alienated the merchants and led to his recall in April 1766 and he left Canada in June. Though charges were dismissed, he did not return to Canada though he retained nominal governorship until April 1768.

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Alanis Morissette

Alanis Nadine Morissette, singer, songwriter, producer, actor, activist (born 1 June 1974 in Ottawa, ON). Alanis Morissette is one of Canada’s most recognized and internationally acclaimed singer-songwriters. She established herself as a Juno-winning teen pop star in Canada before adopting an edgy alternative rock sound. She exploded onto the world stage with her record-breaking international debut, Jagged Little Pill (1995). It sold more than 16 million copies in the United States and 33 million worldwide. It is the highest-selling debut album by a female artist in the US and the best-selling debut album ever worldwide. It is also the best-selling album of the 1990s and the first album by a Canadian artist to sell more than two million copies in Canada. Described by Rolling Stone magazine as the “undisputed queen of alt-rock angst,” Morissette has won 13 Juno Awards and seven Grammy Awards. She has sold 60 million albums worldwide, including Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (1998), Under Rug Swept (2002) and Flavors of Entanglement (2008). Also an actor and activist, she is a member of the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.

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The Underground Railroad (Plain-Language Summary)

The Underground Railroad was a secret organization. It was made up of people who helped African Americans escape from slavery in the southern United States. The people in this organization set up a system of routes that escaped slaves could travel to find freedom in the northern United States and Canada. In the 1800s (the 19th century) between 30,000 and 40,000 escaped slaves travelled to British North America (Canada) through the Underground Railroad.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Underground Railroad in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on The Underground Railroad.)

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Brenda Milner

Brenda Atkinson Milner (née Langford), CC, GOQ, FRSC, FRS, neuropsychologist (born 15 July 1918 in Manchester, England). Dr. Milner pioneered the field of neuropsychology, combining neurology and psychology. Most notably, she discovered that the part of the brain called the medial temporal lobe (which includes the hippocampus) is critical for the forming of long-term memories. Milner’s later work revealed that the learning of skills involving the combination of vision and movement is not part of the medial temporal lobe system. These discoveries proved that there are different forms of memory in different brain regions. Through her observation of patients, Milner changed forever our understanding of the brain’s learning and memory mechanisms.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Annette Herscovics

Annette Herscovics, FRSC, biochemist (born 29 June 1938 in Paris, France; died 6 September 2008 in Montreal, QC). Annette Herscovics is best known for her pioneering work on glycoproteins. She discovered where and how in our cells these modifications occur and their relevance to health and disease. Her discoveries are a key development in the field of glycobiology.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Christine Sinclair

Christine Sinclair, OC, soccer player (born 12 June 1983 in Burnaby, BC). Soccer player Christine Sinclair has been named Canadian Player of the Year 14 times. She has scored more international goals (187) and more Olympic goals (12) than any other player in the world. After twice being named the top women’s college soccer player in the United Sates and winning two NCAA championships, Sinclair led the Canadian women’s team to three World Cups (2011, 2015, 2019) and four Olympic Summer Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020). The team won back-to-back Olympic bronze medals in 2012 and 2016 before winning gold in Tokyo. Sinclair received the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canada’s female athlete of the year in 2012 and 2020 and was named Canada Soccer Player of the Decade in 2019. The first soccer player to win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year, she has been inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame and is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

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Canada at the 2020 Olympic Summer Games

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Olympic Summer Games were the first Olympic Games to be postponed. They were held in Tokyo, Japan, from 23 July to 8 August 2021. Canada sent 371 athletes (225 women, 146 men) and finished 11th in the overall medal standings with 24 (seven gold, six silver, 11 bronze). It is the most Canada has ever won at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Of the 24 medals, 18 were won by Canadian women. The seven gold medals tied Canada’s record at a non-boycotted Olympic Summer Games. Highlights for Canada at the Tokyo Games included Penny Oleksiak becoming Canada’s most decorated Olympian; Andre De Grasse winning three medals, including gold in the men’s 200 m dash; the Canadian women’s soccer team winning gold for the first time in dramatic fashion; and gold medallist Damian Warner becoming only the fourth athlete in Olympic history to score more than 9,000 points in the decathlon.

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Marie Gérin-Lajoie

Marie Gérin-Lajoie (née Lacoste) author, educator, social activist, founder of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste (born 19 October 1867 in Montréal, QC; died 1 November 1945 in Montréal). From her family base in Montréal’s Catholic francophone elite, Gérin-Lajoie advocated for improvements in women’s status, including the right to vote. (See also Catholicism in Canada.) Through her writings and public lectures, she tried to ensure that all Quebec women would understand their rights and duties as defined in what she called the droit usuel: the law of daily life.

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Toronto Chinatown

Toronto’s Chinatown, one of the largest in North America, is an ever-evolving neighbourhood defined by numerous cohorts of Chinese immigrants with a diversity of culture, traditions and languages. (See Chinese Canadians.) Also known as Chinatown West, it is one of three Chinatowns in Toronto, more of the large Chinese settlements are included from the inner suburbs, like Scarborough and North York, and outer suburbs, like Markham, Mississauga and Richmond Hill.

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30 Indigenous Leaders

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that make us proud to be Canadian, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.

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Mary Two-Axe Earley

Mary Two-Axe Earley, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) elder, advocate for women and children, human rights activist (born 4 October 1911 on the Kahnawà:ke reserve, QC; died 21 August 1996 in the same place). Mary Two-Axe Earley was a pioneer and architect of the Canadian women’s movement. Her political activism helped to forge a coalition of allies to challenge Canadian laws that discriminated against Indigenous women. The great bulk of her political advocacy spanned the last three decades of her life, and she was particularly active in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

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Joseph Tyrrell

Joseph Burr Tyrrell, geologist, explorer, historian (born 1 November 1858 in Weston, Canada West; died 26 August 1957 in Toronto, ON). Tyrrell explored the vast areas of western and northern Canada, consolidating information gathered by earlier explorers and filling in blank spots on the maps, especially in the Northwest Territories, while working for 17 years for the Geological Survey of Canada (1881–98).

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William McMaster

William McMaster, businessman, banker, philanthropist (b in County Tyrone, Ire 24 Dec 1811; d at Toronto 22 Sept 1887). After immigrating to America he came to York [Toronto] in 1833 and entered a dry-goods firm.

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Henry George Thode

Henry George Thode, scientist, university administrator (b at Dundurn, Sask 10 Sept 1910; d 22 Mar 1997). He graduated from the University of Saskatchewan, earned his doctorate from Chicago in 1934 and worked in the labs of Nobel winner Harold Urey at Columbia before joining McMaster in 1939.