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Article

Derek Holman

Derek Holman, CM, composer, organist, choir conductor, professor (born 16 May 1931 in Illogan, England; died 20 May 2019 in Ottawa, ON). Derek Holman worked at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Croydon Parish Church and the Royal School of Church Music in the United Kingdom before moving to Canada in 1965. He was organist-choirmaster at Toronto’s Grace Church on-the-Hill, choirmaster at Bishop Strachan School and a professor at the University of Toronto. He was perhaps best known for his collaborations with Robertson Davies, including on the children’s opera Doctor Canon’s Cure (1982). Holman was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Church Music in 1972 and a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002.

Article

Mr. Dressup

Mr. Dressup was one of Canada’s most beloved and longest-running children’s television series. The program ran for 29 years (1967–96) and more than 4,000 episodes. It starred Ernie Coombs as the jovial Mr. Dressup and was a precursor to the popular American series, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Mr. Dressup was influential in tailoring children’s programming towards developing the child’s emotional and logical intelligence. The series won three Gemini Awards and earned Coombs an appointment to the Order of Canada. A 2017 crowd-sourced online vote unofficially declared Mr. Dressup Canada’s most memorable television program. In 2019, Mr. Dressup was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.  

Article

David Gardner

David Gardner, actor, director, educator (born 4 May 1928 in Toronto, ON; died 8 February 2020 in Toronto). David Gardner was a theatre professional who brought a passion for Canadian drama to performance, education and political forums. He had a long and distinguished career as an actor, director, teacher and historian, and was a major player in the development of Canadian theatre. He played some 800 roles on stage, radio, film and television and directed for both stage and television. He taught at the University of Toronto and at York University. His work has been published widely in Canadian encyclopedias and journals.

Article

Lillian Elias

Lillian Elias (whose Inuvialuktun name is Panigavluk) is a teacher, language activist and a residential school Survivor (born 1943 in the Mackenzie Delta, NT). Influenced by her time at residential school, where administrators attempted to forcefully strip her of her language and culture, Elias has spent much of her life promoting and preserving her first language, Inuvialuktun (see Inuvialuit).

Article

Métis Experiences at Residential School

Although the first residential schools in Canada were established with the intention of assimilating First Nations children into Euro-Canadian culture, Métis and Inuit children were also institutionalized in such facilities. Métis children experienced similar day-to-day conditions to those of other students in residential schools, but they were often considered “outsiders” by their peers and administrators. This perception affected their experiences within these institutions in particular ways.


Article

John Strachan

Strachan lost his father when he was 14. He entered the University of Aberdeen at only 16 and supported his widowed mother through teaching.

Article

Frantz Jéhin-Prume

Jéhin-Prume (b Jéhin), Frantz (b François-Henri). Violinist, composer, teacher, born Spa, Belgium, 18 Apr 1839, died Montreal 29 May 1899; premier prix (Brussels Cons) 1852.

Article

Mabel Timlin

Mabel Frances Timlin, OC, FRSC, economist, professor (born 6 December 1891 in Forest Junction, Wisconsin; died 19 September 1976 in Saskatoon, SK). Timlin was an influential economist best known for her interpretation of Keynesian economics. Although she became a professor relatively late in her career, Timlin achieved a series of firsts as a Canadian woman in her field. She remained at the University of Saskatchewan throughout her career.

Article

Mabel Hubbard Bell

Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell, aeronautics financier, community leader, social reformer and advocate for the deaf (born 25 November 1857 in Cambridge, Massachusetts; died 3 January 1923 in Chevy Chase, Maryland). Bell actively supported and contributed to the work of her husband, inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Her financial investment in his work made her the first financier of the aviation industry in North America. She was a community leader in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, where the Bell family spent their summers. She was also a social reformer and supported innovation in education.

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

Article

Olivier Le Jeune

We may never know the exact number of British ships that carried enslaved people from the continent of Africa to the New World (see Black Enslavement in Canada). However, the earliest record of enslaved Black Africans in New France is the sale of a boy from either Madagascar or Guinea. In 1629, the child, believed to have been around six years old, was brought to New France aboard a British ship as the chattel slave of Sir David Kirke, a trader and privateer for England’s King Charles I. The boy was later sold to a French clerk named Olivier Le Baillif (sometimes referred to as Olivier Le Tardiff), and then transferred to Guillaume Couillard. In 1633, the enslaved boy was baptized and given the name Olivier Le Jeune. Le Jeune remained in the colony of New France for the rest of his life.

Article

Katherine Govier

Katherine Mary Govier, CM, writer, editor, administrator, teacher (born 4 July 1948 in Edmonton, AB). Katherine Govier has published 10 novels and three short-story collections, as well as two acclaimed collections of travel writing. A Member of the Order of Canada, she has received the Toronto Book Award and the Marian Engel Award. She has served on the boards of the Toronto Arts Council, the Canadian Council for Civil Liberties and the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing. She has also taught at Sheridan College, Ryerson University and York University.

Article

Joseph Francis Dion

Joseph Francis Dion, Métis leader, political organizer, and teacher (born 2 July 1888 near Onion Lake, SK; died 21 December 1960 in Bonnyville, AB). Dion was central to the shaping of modern Indigenous political organizations on the Prairies. He became a farmer (1903) and teacher on the Kehewin reserve (1916-40). In the 1930s he worked with Jim Brady and  Malcolm Norris  to found what is now the Métis Nation of Alberta (1932; president, 1932-58) and the Indian Association of Alberta (1939). Serving in the executives of First Nations, Métis and Roman Catholic Church organizations, he travelled, lectured, recorded living traditions (published as  My Tribe the Crees, 1979) and managed a Métis dance troupe. A relatively conservative reformer, Dion promoted the idea of Indigenous self-help through local agricultural development and the preservation of traditional culture.

Article

Ernestine Russell

Ernestine “Ernie” Jean Russell, gymnast, coach (born 10 June 1938 in Windsor, ON). Ernestine Russell was Canada’s best female gymnast of the 1950s. She was the first woman to represent Canada in gymnastics at the Olympic Summer Games, at Melbourne in 1956. She was also the first Canadian gymnast ever to medal in an international competition, at the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, where she won four gold medals and two silver. She won 46 gold medals at the Canadian Gymnastics Championships between 1954 and 1960. She also had a successful career coaching women’s gymnastics at the NCAA level and with Team USA. She has been inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame and the US Gymnastics Hall of Fame.

Article

Black Enslavement in Canada (Plain-Language Summary)

The practice of slavery was introduced by colonists in New France in the early 1600s. The practice was continued after the British took control of New France in 1760 (see British North America.) For about two hundred years, thousands of Indigenous and Black African people were bought, sold, traded and inherited like property in early Canada. Slavery was abolished (made illegal) throughout British North America in 1834.

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

Article

Marcelle Gauvreau

Marcelle Gauvreau, Quebec scientist, botanist, educator, administrator, writer and journalist (born 28 February 1907 in Rimouski, QC; died 16 December 1968 in Montreal, QC). A botanist by profession, Marcelle Gauvreau made her mark as a teacher, writer, journalist, administrator and faithful collaborator of Frère Marie-Victorin (Conrad Kirouac). Through her books, articles, talks, the school she established, and her desire to promote public interest in plant life, she encouraged many Quebecers to learn about plants and to love nature in the 20th century.

Article

Inuit Experiences at Residential School

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools created to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Schools in the North were run by missionaries for nearly a century before the federal government began to open new, so-called modern institutions in the 1950s. This was less than a decade after a Special Joint Committee (see Indigenous Suffrage) found that the system was ineffectual. The committee’s recommendations led to the eventual closure of residential schools across the country.