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Frederick Hall, VC

Frederick William Hall, VC, soldier, musician, clerk (born 21 February 1885 in Kilkenny, Ireland; died 24 April 1915 near Ypres, Belgium). During the First World War, Sergeant-Major Fred Hall was the first of three soldiers, all from the same street in Winnipeg, to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire. The three VCs earned by the men of Pine Street — later named Valour Road — was a feat unmatched in any other part of the Empire.

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Robert Shankland, VC

Robert Shankland, soldier, accountant, Victoria Cross recipient (born 10 October 1887 in Ayr, Scotland; died 20 January 1968 in Vancouver, BC). During the First World War, Lieutenant Robert Shankland was one of three soldiers, all from the same street in Winnipeg, to be awarded the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for bravery among troops of the British Empire. The three VCs earned by the men of Pine Street — later named Valour Road — was a feat unmatched in any other part of the Empire.

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Jovette Marchessault

Jovette Marchessault, novelist, playwright, painter, sculptor (born 9 February 1938 in Montreal, QC; died 31 December 2012 in Danville, QC). Jovette Marchessault was a self-taught multidisciplinary artist. She won major prizes for her literary and theatrical works and made a unique mark on francophone culture. Supported by a deep and lyrical voice, her work celebrates words through myths and liberating poetic language. Her body of work stands as a tribute to women of all backgrounds, notably female artists and writers. She co-founded the international publishing house Squawtach Press, contributed to many publications and was a lecturer in the theatre department at the Université du Québec à Montréal. She won the prix France-Quebec and the Governor General’s Drama Award, among other honours.

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Erin O’Toole

Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the Opposition (2020–), Member of Parliament (2012–) (born 22 January 1973 in Montreal, QC). Erin O’Toole served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and worked as a corporate lawyer before being elected the Member of Parliament for Durham, Ontario, in 2012. He served as Minister of Veterans Affairs in 2015. In August 2020, he was elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and became the leader of the Opposition.

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Henry Morgentaler

Henekh (Henry) Morgentaler, CM, abortion advocate, physician (born 19 March 1923 in Lodz, Poland; died 29 May 2013 in Toronto. Morgentaler spent much of his life advocating for women’s reproductive rights at a time when they could not legally obtain abortions.

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Robertine Barry (Françoise)

Robertine Barry (pen name: Françoise), journalist, publisher, author and feminist (born 26 February 1863 in L’Isle-Verte, Canada East; died 7 January 1910 in Montréal, Québec). The first French-Canadian woman journalist, she was also a founding member of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the first vice-president of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.

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Penny Oleksiak

Penelope “Penny” Oleksiak, swimmer (born 13 June 2000 in Scarborough, ON). Swimmer Penny Oleksiak is Canada’s most decorated Olympian, with seven medals overall. She also holds the record as the youngest Canadian to win Olympic gold (16 years and 59 days). In 2016, she became the first Canadian athlete to win four medals at a single Olympic Summer Games: gold in the 100 m freestyle; silver in the 100 m butterfly; bronze in the women’s 4x100 m freestyle relay; and bronze in the women’s 4x200 m freestyle relay. Oleksiak won three medals at the Tokyo Games in 2021: silver in the women’s 4x100 m freestyle relay; bronze in the women’s 200 m freestyle; and bronze in the women’s 4x100 m medley relay. She received the Lou Marsh Trophy and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award in 2016.

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Franco-Americans

Between 1840 and 1930, nearly a million francophones from Canada emigrated to the United States. (See also Canada and United States.) Most emigrants came from Quebec. There were also Acadians from the Atlantic provinces. These emigrants lived throughout the Northern US, but most settled in New England. The largest cohort worked in the textile industry. The 1880s and 1890s were the crest of several waves of emigration that ended with the Great Depression. Also known as Franco-Americans, about two million French Canadian descendants live in New England today.

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Jagmeet Singh

Jagmeet Singh “Jimmy” Dhaliwal, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada 2017–present, MP, MPP, lawyer (born 2 January 1979 in Scarborough, ON). Jagmeet Singh served as an Ontario MPP from 2011 until 2017, when he won the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party (NDP). This made him the first racialized leader of a major national political party in Canada. He was also the first turban-wearing Sikh elected to the Ontario legislature. Singh has consistently rated higher than other federal party leaders in public opinion polls but has yet to translate that into national electoral success. He has been the Member of Parliament for Burnaby South since 2019.

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Elgin Settlement

The Elgin Settlement, also known as Buxton, was one of four organized Black settlements developed in Southwestern Ontario in the mid-1800s. Established in 1849 by Reverend William King, the Elgin Settlement was one of the last stops on the Underground Railroad. Today, the settlement is a national historic site within the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. It was named in honour of Lord Elgin, governor general of Upper Canada. The name “Buxton” paid tribute to Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, a slave trade abolitionist. While the community was officially known as the Elgin Settlement, at its heart was the Buxton Mission. The Elgin Settlement was the largest of the four Black settlements and considered the most successful.

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Mahmud Jamal

Mahmud Jamal, Supreme Court of Canada justice, Court of Appeal for Ontario judge, litigation lawyer, author, teacher (born 1967 in Nairobi, Kenya). Mahmud Jamal is the first racialized person and the first South Asian Canadian to be appointed as a justice to the Supreme Court of Canada. A former Fulbright scholar with a background in law and economics, Jamal worked as a litigator with the Toronto firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP before becoming a judge with the Court of Appeal for Ontario. He began serving on the Supreme Court on 1 July 2021.

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Maxime Bernier

Maxime Bernier, businessman, lawyer, politician, leader of the People’s Party of Canada 2018–present (born 18 January 1963 in St-Georges-de-Beauce, Quebec). Maxime Bernier served as Member of Parliament for Beauce from 2006 to 2019. He was a prominent Cabinet minister in the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. After narrowly losing the Conservative leadership race to Andrew Scheer in 2017, Bernier left the party in 2018 and formed the far-right People’s Party of Canada (PPC). Bernier opposes government intervention in society, culture, the economy. He also criticizes multiculturalism and increased immigration as well as government policies to fight climate change.

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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). A great-grandson of Prime Minister Sir John Abbott, Christopher Plummer was an international star of theatre, film and television. 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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Stan Rogers

Stanley Allison Rogers, singer, songwriter (born 29 November 1949 in Hamilton, ON; died 2 June 1983 in Hebron, Kentucky). One of Canada’s finest singer-songwriters, Stan Rogers was known for his rich baritone voice and finely crafted folk songs, often written and performed in a traditional Celtic style. He is perhaps best known for the rousing a cappella anthem “Northwest Passage.” Concerned with themes of honour, loyalty and hope, Rogers drew on historic and poetic aspects of the Canadian experience. His music never received widespread radio airplay and was largely unknown outside of folk music circles during his lifetime. His legend grew after his tragic death in an airplane fire in 1983. He was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2019.

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Denis Coderre

Denis Coderre, politician, federal cabinet minister, mayor of Montreal 2013–17 (born 25 July 1963 in Joliette, QC). A federal politician for 16 years, Coderre moved into municipal politics and was elected mayor of Montreal in November 2013. Although credited with cleaning up the city’s administration, Coderre lost the November 2017 election to Valérie Plante, becoming the first Montreal mayor in 57 years to lose after only one term.

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George Brough

George Brough, pianist, organist, harpsichordist, opera coach (born 25 February 1918 in Boston, Lincolnshire, England; died 15 September 2015 in TorontoON). George Brough was widely recognized as one of Canada's most skilful, reliable and versatile accompanists. Able to sight-read with tremendous proficiency, he provided secure support for hundreds of performers, from students in competitions to professional artists such as Heinz Holliger, Gervase de Peyer, Henri Temianka, Bernard Turgeon and Jon Vickers. He was an assistant conductor and accompanist with the Canadian Opera Company, an organist with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and taught at the Banff Centre for the Arts and the University of Toronto.

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54-40

Alternative rock band 54-40 rose from the Vancouver punk scene of the late 1970s to achieve mainstream success in Canada in the late 1980s and the 1990s. They have had four platinum albums and one gold album and have been nominated for eight Juno Awards. They are perhaps best known for the hit singles “I Go Blind,” “Baby Ran,” “One Day in Your Life,” “Nice to Luv You,” “She La,” “Ocean Pearl” and “Since When,” among others. The band has been inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. “I Go Blind” was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2021.

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Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle, OC, author and critic (born 2 July 1950 in VancouverBC; died 11 November 2021 in Surrey, BC). Lee Maracle was a prolific First Nations writer and expert on First Nations culture and history, and an influential Indigenous voice in Canadian postcolonial criticism. 

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Afghan Canadians

The Afghan community in Canada is relatively new. Until 1978, about 1,000 Afghans lived in Canada. However, since 1978, decades of political instability, invasions and war in Afghanistan pushed many to leave to other countries. Since then, the Afghan population in Canada has grown. (See Refugees to Canada.) According to Statistics Canada’s 2016 census, approximately 84,000 Afghans are living in Canada, the majority of whom are settled in the suburbs of major cities.