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Marion Alice Orr

Marion Alice Orr (née Powell). Pioneer pilot. (b. Jun 25, 1916 [?], Toronto, ON; d. April 4, 1995, Peterborough, ON). Marion Orr's birth date has been given variously as 1916, 1918 and 1920. She obfuscated sometimes on documents related to flying for fear that she would be grounded by her age.

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Edith Monture

Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture (often known simply as Edith Monture), Mohawk First World War veteran, registered nurse, (born 10 April 1890 on Six Nations reserve near Brantford, ON; died 3 April 1996 in Ohsweken, ON). Edith was the first Indigenous woman to become a registered nurse in Canada and to gain the right to vote in a Canadian federal election. She was also the first Indigenous woman from Canada to serve in the United States military. Edith broke barriers for Indigenous women in the armed forces and with regards to federal voting rights. A street (Edith Monture Avenue) and park (Edith Monture Park) are named after her in Brantford, Ontario.

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William Saunders

William Saunders, druggist, agriculturalist (b at Crediton, Eng 16 June 1836; d at London, Ont 13 Sept 1914). Saunders established the Experimental Farms Service (now Research Branch) of the federal Dept of AGRICULTURE. He moved with his family from England to Canada in 1848 and apprenticed as a druggist, opening his own store in 1855. His concern about insects attacking pharmaceutical plants led him to help found the Entomological Society of Canada in 1863.

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Sir Frederick Banting

Sir Frederick Grant Banting, KBE, MC, FRS, FRSC, co-discoverer of insulin, medical scientist, painter (born 14 November 1891 in Alliston, ON; died 21 February 1941 near Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland). Banting is best known as one of the scientists who discovered insulin in 1922. After this breakthrough, he became Canada’s first professor of medical research at the University of Toronto. Banting was also an accomplished amateur painter. As an artist, he had links to A.Y. Jackson and the Group of Seven.

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George C. Ebers

George Cornell Ebers, neurologist, researcher (born 24 July 1946 in Budapest, Hungary). Ebers has published extensively with more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals, three books, 25 book chapters, and multiple editorials to his name. He has contributed significant medical research into multiple sclerosis (MS). A former professor at Western University and the University of Oxford, Ebers was awarded the John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research.

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Maude Abbott

Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbott, cardiac pathologist, physician, curator (born 18 March 1868 in St. Andrews East, QC; died 2 September 1940 in Montreal, QC). Maude Abbott is known as the author of The Atlas of Congenital Cardiac Disease (1936), a groundbreaking text in cardiac research. Though Abbott graduated in arts from McGill University (1890), she was barred from studying medicine at McGill because of her gender. Instead, she attended Bishop’s College (now Bishop’s University), earning a medical degree in 1894. As assistant curator of the McGill Medical Museum (1898), and curator (1901), she revolutionized the teaching of pathology by using the museum as an instructional tool. Abbott’s work paved the way for women in medicine and laid the foundation for modern heart surgery. (See also Women in STEM).

Article

Dominique Gaspard

Dominique François Gaspard, physician and community builder (born 22 December 1884 in New Orleans, Louisiana; died 6 February 1938 in Montreal, QC). Gaspard was a respected doctor and a trailblazer in Montreal’s Black district. After serving with distinction at a field hospital during the First World War, he devoted himself to medical practice in Montreal. He also worked to create social and intellectual outlets for Black men in the city. A bilingual Catholic, he was unique in the city’s early-20th-century anglophone  Protestant Black community. His story speaks of a complexity of language, ethnicity and migration not often explored in narratives of Quebec’s English-speaking and Black communities.

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Irma LeVasseur

Irma LeVasseur, MD, first French-Canadian female doctor and founder of the Hôpital Sainte-Justine in Montreal and the Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus in Québec City (born 20 January 1877 in Québec, QC; died 18 January 1964 in Québec, QC.) Dr. LeVasseur was one of the very few female doctors of her era and was a pioneer in pediatric medicine. She devoted her life to sick children, founding major institutions that continued her work after her death.

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Norman Bethune

Henry Norman Bethune, surgeon, inventor, political activist (born 4 March 1890 in Gravenhurst, ON; died 12 November 1939 in Huang Shiko, China). Norman Bethune was an innovative thoracic surgeon who made significant contributions in the field, including the invention or redesign of surgical instruments. He was also an early advocate of universal health care in Canada. A member of the Communist Party, Bethune volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, where he pioneered the mobile blood transfusion unit. In 1938, he travelled to China, where he became a battlefield surgeon for Chinese Communist forces under Mao Zedong. Bethune’s commitment to the welfare of soldiers and civilians during the Sino-Japanese War made him a hero in the People's Republic of China.

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John William Dawson

John William Dawson, geologist, paleontologist, principal of McGill University (born 13 October 1820 in Pictou, NS; died 19 November 1899 in Montreal, QC). Dawson conducted an archaeological survey and recovery mission that revealed evidence of pre-European habitation on the island of Montreal. Though Dawson is generally credited with discovering the “lost” village of Hochelaga, subsequent investigations revealed that he might only have found evidence of a smaller, related settlement. Dawson is well-known in the geological community for finding a fossil of Hylonomus lyelli (the earliest known reptile). He also identified Eozoön canadense as a gigantic single-celled organism, though it is now considered to be a pseudofossil (fake fossil). Dawson is generally credited as being the first Canadian scientist of international renown, and for his transformative tenure as principal of McGill.

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Evelyn Nelson

Evelyn Merle Roden Nelson, mathematician, professor (born 25 November 1943 in Hamilton, ON; died 1 August 1987 in Hamilton, ON). A brilliant mathematical mind, Evelyn Nelson fought gender barriers in a discipline long dominated by men to become a rising star in the field both in Canada and abroad. She contributed to the fields of universal algebra, equational compactness and formal language theory. Nelson was particularly interested in applying universal algebra to the then-burgeoning field of computer science. She was a devoted teacher, sought-after research partner and the author of over 40 publications during what was a tragically short career.

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Frances Oldham Kelsey

​Frances Oldham Kelsey, CM, pharmacologist (born 24 July 1914 in Cobble Hill, BC; died 7 August 2015 in London, ON). As an employee of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Kelsey blocked the sale of thalidomide in the United States. The drug, which had been widely prescribed in Europe and Canada, was later shown to cause severe birth defects in children whose mothers had taken the drug while pregnant. In recognition of her “exceptional judgment” and determination, Kelsey received the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. Kelsey and her work have been widely lauded in the United States but are less known in Canada. She was made a Member of the Order of Canada shortly before her death.

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Reginald Fessenden

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, electrical engineer (born 6 October 1866 in East Bolton, Canada East; died 22 July 1932 in Hamilton, Bermuda). Fessenden was a pioneer in the field of radio communication. He made the first voice transmission over radio waves. He also laid the foundations of amplitude modulation (AM) and achieved the first two-way radiotelegraphic communication across the Atlantic Ocean. His 1906 transmission of a Christmas concert is considered the first radio broadcast in history. (See also Radio Programming)

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Julie Payette

Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, astronaut, engineer, jet pilot, musician (born 20 October 1963 in Montréal, QC). Julie Payette is the first Canadian astronaut to board the International Space Station, which she went to twice (1999, 2009). She served as the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. From 2013 to 2016, she was chief operating officer for the Montreal Science Centre and vice president of the Canada Lands Company. An accomplished scientific authority, musician and athlete, Payette is a board member of Own the Podium and a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee’s board of directors. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recommended Payette as Canada’s 29th Governor General. She served in the role from 2 October 2017 until 21 January 2021, when she resigned following allegations that she was abusive toward her staff.