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John Murray Gibbon

John Murray Gibbon, railway publicist and author (born 12 April 1875 in Udeweller, Ceylon [Sri Lanka]; died 2 July 1952 in Montreal, QC). A publicist with the Canadian Pacific Railway, Gibbon also actively promoted Canadian arts and culture. He organized cultural festivals, organizations that promoted tourism in the Rockies and founded the Canadian Authors Association. Gibbon also authored several articles, poems and novels. His book Canadian Mosaic (1938) popularized the "mosaic" as a metaphor for the diversity of "the Canadian people.” It has since been used by politicians, educators and policy makers to describe the cultural makeup of the country.

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Influential Indigenous Authors in Canada

Many Indigenous writers in Canada have written books that have made audiences think, laugh, and cry. From fiction to non-fiction, plays to poetry, and more, Indigenous authors have entertained readers in this country and internationally. Rooted in Indigenous culture and history, many of their works are also inspiring, thought-provoking, and urge Canadians to more deeply consider Indigenous people, communities and experiences.

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Sandra Birdsell

Sandra Birdsell (née Sandra Bartlette), CM, Mennonite-Métis, short-story writer, novelist (born 22 April 1942 in Hamiota, MB). Birdsell’s fiction often investigates the lives of small-town characters, especially women. She has written novels, plays, radio dramas and scripts for television and film. Appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2010, Birdsell has been nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for English Language Fiction three times, and for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2001.

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Howard Engel

Howard Engel, novelist, cartoonist (under the pen name “Foo”), story writer, poet (born 2 April 1931 in Toronto, ON; died 16 July 2019 in Toronto). Howard Engel was raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, and educated at McMaster University and the Ontario College of Education. During his career as a producer of literary and cultural programs at the CBC, Engel published a few stories and poems, but he did not begin to write seriously until he became interested in detective fiction.

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Jean Little

Jean Little, CM, writer, lecturer (born 2 January 1932 in Taiwan; died 6 April 2020). Jean Little was best known for her children’s books. She wrote more than 50 books. Little won the Canada Council Children’s Literature Award as well as foreign acclaim. Little’s books are widely translated. Her novels and poetry treat such themes as loneliness, alienation, intolerance, family stress and the difficulties in interpersonal and intercultural relationships. (See also Children’s Literature in English.)

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Markoosie Patsauq

Markoosie Patsauq, Inuk writer, pilot, community leader (born 24 May 1941 near Inukjuak [then Port Harrison], QC; died 8 March 2020 in Inukjuak, QC). The life of Markoosie Patsauq intersected dramatically with many of the most significant events affecting Inuit in 20th century Canada. He survived upheaval and trauma, both collective and individual, and went on to be the first Inuk and the first Indigenous person in Canada to publish a novel. Uumajursiutik unaatuinnamut, or Hunter with Harpoon, appeared serially in 1969–70 in Inuktitut and then as an English adaptation in late 1970. Patsauq’s writing career spanned many decades and included fiction as well as essays on topics ranging from his flying career to his experiences of colonization and injustice. (See also Influential Indigenous Authors in Canada.)

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Emily Murphy

Emily Murphy (née Ferguson, pen name Janey Canuck), writer, journalist, magistrate, political and legal reformer (born 14 March 1868 in Cookstown, ON; died 27 October 1933 in Edmonton, AB). Emily Murphy was the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. She was also one of the Famous Five behind the Persons Case, the successful campaign to have women declared persons in the eyes of British law. A self-described rebel, she was an outspoken feminist and suffragist and a controversial figure. Her views on immigration and eugenics have been criticized as racist and elitist. She was named a Person of National Historic Significance in 1958 and an honorary senator in 2009.

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Eleanor Coerr

Eleanor Coerr, journalist, children’s author (born 29 May 1922 in Kamsack, SK; died 22 November 2010 in Princeton, New Jersey). An award-winning writer of children’s books, Eleanor Coerr is best known for Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (1977), the result of a childhood fascination with Japan and a reporting trip there in 1949. As the wife of a diplomat, Coerr spent many years abroad. Her travels inspired her writing, much of which focuses on historical figures and subjects from far-flung locales.