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Article

William Lyon Mackenzie King

William Lyon Mackenzie King, prime minister of Canada 1921–26, 1926–30 and 1935–48 (born 17 December 1874 in Berlin [Kitchener], ON; died 22 July 1950 in Kingsmere, QC). William Lyon Mackenzie King was the dominant political figure in an era of major changes. He was leader of the Liberal Party from 1919 to 1948, and Prime Minister of Canada for almost 22 of those years. King was Canada’s longest-serving prime minister. He steered Canada through industrialization, much of the Great Depression, and the Second World War. By the time he left office, Canada had achieved greater independence from Britain and a stronger international voice. It had also implemented policies such as employment insurance.

Article

Albert Grey, 4th Earl Grey

Albert Henry George Grey, 4th Earl Grey, governor general of Canada from 1904 to 1911 (born 28 November 1851 in London, United Kingdom; died 29 August 1917 in Howick, Northumberland, United Kingdom). Earl Grey established awards that honour Canadian arts, drama and sports. The Grey Cup is still presented to the winning team of the Canadian Football League championship.

Article

Erin O’Toole

Erin O’Toole, Member of Parliament (2012–), leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the Opposition (2020–2022), (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 as 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. Following the party’s loss in the September 2021 federal election, O’Toole resigned as leader on 2 February 2022 after the Conservative caucus voted in favour of his removal. He continues to serve as the MP for Durham.

Article

Lionel Conacher

Lionel Pretoria Conacher, multi-sport athlete, politician (born 24 May 1900 in Toronto, Ontario; died 26 May 1954 in Ottawa, Ontario). Deserving of his nickname, “the big train”, Lionel Conacher was Canada’s greatest all-round athlete. He was named Canada’s Athlete of the Half Century in 1950. He also served as an MPP and as Ontario athletic commissioner, as well as a federal Member of Parliament. One of only three players to win both a Stanley Cup and a Grey Cup, Conacher was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (1955), the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1963), the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame (1966) the Hockey Hall of Fame (1994) and Canada’s Walk of Fame (2022). The award for Canada’s male athlete of the year is named in his honour.

Article

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Kurban Nenshi, business consultant, professor, mayor of Calgary, AB, 2010–21 (born 2 February 1972 in Toronto, ON). Naheed Nenshi was elected Mayor of Calgary for three terms, from 2010 to 2021. He was the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city. He was also the first Canadian mayor to be awarded the World Mayor Prize by the British-based City Mayors Foundation. Nenshi was known for pioneering the use of social media in political campaigns, promoting civic engagement, completing various large infrastructure projects and guiding Calgary’s recovery following devastating floods in 2013.

Article

Persons Case

The Persons Case (Edwards v. A.G. of Canada) was a constitutional ruling that established the right of women to be appointed to the Senate. The case was initiated by the Famous Five, a group of prominent women activists. In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not “persons” according to the British North America Act (now called the Constitution Act, 1867). Therefore, they were ineligible for appointment to the Senate. However, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council reversed the Court’s decision on 18 October 1929. The Persons Case enabled women to work for change in both the House of Commons and the Senate. It also meant that women could no longer be denied rights based on a narrow interpretation of the law.

Article

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Plain-Language Summary)

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) started working in 2008. It was a result of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). The IRSSA recognized the suffering and trauma experienced by Indigenous students at residential schools. It also provided financial compensation (money) to the students. The TRC performed many tasks. It created a national research centre. It collected documents from churches and government. It held events where students told their stories. Also, it did research about residential schools and issued a final report. (See also  Reconciliation in Canada.)

Article

Tilly Rolston

Tilly Jean Rolston, Canadian politician (born 23 February 1887 in Vancouver, BC; died 12 October 1953 in Vancouver, BC). Rolston was best known for her service as education minister for the province of British Columbia in the Social Credit government of W.A.C. Bennett in the early 1950s. She has the distinction of being the second woman cabinet minister elected in that province, but the first with a portfolio in all of Canada. Rolston was instrumental in developing a new financing formula for the funding of BC’s public schools, and also instituted the province’s first sex education curriculum. She is noted for being the first woman in British Columbia to receive a state funeral upon her death.

Article

Murray Sinclair

Murray Sinclair or Mizanay (Mizhana) Gheezhik, meaning “The One Who Speaks of Pictures in the Sky” in the Ojibwe language, lawyer, judge and senator (born in 1951 in Selkirk, MB). Called to the Manitoba Bar in 1980, Sinclair focused primarily on civil and criminal litigation, Indigenous law and human rights. In 1988, he became Manitoba’s first, and Canada’s second, Indigenous judge. Sinclair joined the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2009, before becoming a senator in 2016. He retired from the Senate in 2021 but continues to mentor Indigenous lawyers. The breadth of public service and community work completed by Sinclair demonstrates his commitment to Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Article

Flordeliz Osler

Flordeliz (a.k.a. Gigi) Osler (née Sharma), FRCSC, senator, physician and educator (born 1968 in Winnipeg, MB). Dr. Osler is an Otolaryngology – Head and Neck surgeon (ENT) surgeon and has practiced in Winnipeg since 1998. She was the past president of the Canadian Medical Association, making her the first female surgeon and the first woman of colour to assume the role. Osler was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 2022, making her the second senator of Filipino descent and the first woman of Filipino heritage to sit in the Senate.

Editorial

Editorial: Igor Gouzenko Defects to Canada

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

A knock on the apartment door froze him in his steps. Another knock, louder, more insistent. The knocking turned to pounding. A voice called his name several times. Finally, the pounding stopped, and he heard footsteps going down the stairs. He knew he needed help.

Article

Jean Augustine

Jean Augustine (née Simon), PC, CM, first Black female MP and Cabinet minister, social justice advocate, teacher, principal (born 9 September 1937 in Happy Hill, Grenada). Jean Augustine was a trailblazing politician and social activist: elected the first Black female Member of Parliament (1993), appointed the first Black woman in Cabinet (2002), and named first Fairness Commissioner by the Government of Ontario (2007). Her legacy includes the federal declaration of February as Black History Month, a motion she introduced in 1995.

Editorial

Women on Canadian Banknotes

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

Though Queen Elizabeth II has appeared on the $20 bill since she was eight years old, identifiable Canadian women have only appeared on a Canadian banknote once. In 2004, the statue of the Famous Five from Parliament Hill and Olympic Plaza in Calgary, and the medal for the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award were featured on the back of the $50 note. They were the first Canadian women to appear on our currency. However, in 2011, they were replaced by an icebreaker named for a man (see Roald Amundsen). The new bill was part of a series of notes meant to highlight technical innovation and achievement, but the change sparked controversy. Other than the image of a nameless female scientist on the $100 note issued in 2011, and two female Canadian Forces officers and a young girl on the $10 bill issued in 2001 , Canadian women were absent from Canadian bills.

On 8 March 2016, International Women’s Day, the Bank of Canada launched a public consultation to choose an iconic Canadian woman who would be featured on a banknote, released in the next series of bills in 2018. More than 26,000 submissions poured in. Of those, 461 names met the qualifying criteria, and the list was pared down to a long list of 12 and finally a short list of five. The final selection will be announced on 8 December 2016.

But how did we get here?

Editorial

General De Gaulle and "Vive le Québec libre"

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

On 24 July 1967, during a state visit to Expo '67, General Charles de Gaulle, president of France and a hero of the 20th century, proclaimed from the balcony of Montréal's City Hall a sentence that would change the history of Canada: “Vive le Québec libre.”