Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the dominant creative mind which produced the British North America Act and the union of provinces which became Canada. As the first prime minister of Canada, he oversaw the expansion of the Dominion from sea to sea. His government dominated politics for a half century and set policy goals for future generations of political leaders.
James Karl Bartleman, OC, OOnt, diplomat, author, lieutenant governor of Ontario 2002–07 (born 24 December 1939 in Orillia, ON). James K. Bartleman spent nearly 40 years as a career diplomat, serving as high commissioner and ambassador to many countries, including South Africa, Cuba and Israel, and as a foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. A member of the Mnjikaning First Nation, he became Ontario’s first Indigenous lieutenant-governor in 2002. Bartleman’s tenure as lieutenant-governor was highlighted by his advocacy for literacy and education in Indigenous communities and his efforts to end the stigma around mental illness.
In September 1999, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed Adrienne Clarkson governor general. Her appointment marked several "firsts" in the selection of Canada's governor general: she was the first without a military or political background, and the first non-white Canadian to be appointed to the vice-regal position.
John Joseph Horgan, 36th premier of British Columbia, 2017–present; political aide (born 7 August 1959 in Victoria, BC). Horgan revitalized British Columbia's New Democratic Party after 16 years on the opposition benches. After the 2017 election, he engineered a power-sharing deal to topple a weakened Liberal regime and govern the province with the support of the Green Party.
Stephen McNeil, business owner, politician, 28th premier of Nova Scotia, 2013 to present (born 10 November 1964 in Halifax, NS). Few observers expected much from refrigerator repairman Stephen McNeil when he was first elected to the Nova Scotia legislature in 2003. But he surprised pundits when he became leader of the Liberal Party, and was twice elected premier, winning majority governments in 2013 and 2017.
Georges Henry Erasmus, OC, Indigenous leader, activist and spokesperson (born 8 August 1948 in Fort Rae, NT). Erasmus has been a leading advocate for the self-determination of Indigenous peoples in Canada. He has served as the head of several Indigenous public policy organizations, including the Dene Nation and the Assembly of First Nations. He also served as the co-chair for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Although the Reform (that is to say liberal) Party swept the constituencies like a broom, the principle that the majority party controls parliament was not yet established. Colonial government was still firmly in the grip of the governor, who was appointed by London.
John Graves Simcoe, army officer, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada (born 25 February 1752 in Cotterstock, Britain; died 26 October 1806 in Exeter, Britain). Simcoe served as an officer with the British army in the American Revolutionary War, but is best known to Canadians as the first lieutenant-governor of the new British colony of Upper Canada, which later became Ontario.1
Alikomiak (also spelled Alekámiaq) and Tatimagana, Inuit hunters from the central Arctic, were the first Inuit to be condemned and executed for murder under Canadian law on 1 February 1924. The trials of Alikomiak and Tatimagana have been described as demonstrations of federal authority over the Inuit as well as of Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic.
Edward Richard Schreyer, PC, CC, CMM, teacher, politician, diplomat, premier of Manitoba 1969-1977, governor general of Canada 1979-1984 (born 21 December 1935 in Beausejour, MB). Schreyer was the first New Democrat to form a government anywhere in Canada. He was also the first Manitoban to become governor general. In that post, Schreyer was a strong advocate of bilingualism, the environment and women’s equality, and sought to make Rideau Hall more accessible to Canadians.
Camille Henri Thériault, politician, businessman, premier of New Brunswick 1998-1999 (born 25 February 1955 in Baie-Sainte-Anne, NB). Thériault served in the Cabinet of Liberal Premier Frank McKenna before briefly taking a turn as premier himself. After politics, he was chair of the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board, and served as CEO of the Mouvement des caisses populaires acadiennes.
Brian Vincent Tobin, PC, OC, politician, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 1996-2000 (born 21 October 1954 in Stephenville, NF). Before serving as Newfoundland and Labrador's sixth premier, Tobin became a hero in the province when, as a federal Cabinet minister, he defended the turbot fishery against foreign overfishing. Nicknamed “Captain Canada,” he was also a strong advocate of national unity during Québec's 1995 referendum on sovereignty.
Dennis Michael John “Doc” O’Keefe, teacher, municipal politician, mayor of St. John’s 2008–present (born 20 April 1944 in St. John’s, NL). A retired school teacher, and a city council member since 1997, O’Keefe is a consumer-and cruise ship industry-advocate known for his approachability, and his daily walks of the streets of St. John’s.
Gregory Selinger, 21st premier of Manitoba 2009-2016, MLA, city councillor, social worker (born 16 February 1951 in Regina, SK). Manitoba’s economy grew during Selinger’s seven years as premier, but he faced a public backlash over an increase in sales tax and an internal revolt from his party.