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.
Daniel Roland Michener, PC, CC, OOnt, governor general of Canada 1967-74, lawyer, politician, diplomat (born 19 April 1900 in Lacombe, AB; died 6 August 1991 in Toronto). Michener was the first former MP to become governor general and served during Canada’s centennial year of 1967. He inaugurated the Order of Canada and was a champion of sport and fitness.
Jules Léger, PC, CC, governor general of Canada 1974-1979, journalist, diplomat, (born 4 April 1913 in Saint-Anicet, QC; died 22 November 1980 in Ottawa). As Canadian ambassador to France, Léger won admiration for his deft handling of French president Charles de Gaulle’s controversial “Vive le Québec libre” speech in 1967. Despite suffering a stroke soon after becoming governor general, he encouraged national unity during his term while the country was divided by disputes over Quebec separatism.
Jeanne-Mathilde Sauvé, PC, CC, governor general of Canada 1984-1990, journalist, politician, speaker of the House of Commons (born 26 April 1922 in Prud'homme, Saskatchewan; died 26 January 1993 in Montreal). Sauvé was Canada's first woman to be Speaker of the House of Commons and first woman to serve as governor general.
Georges-Philéas Vanier, PC, governor general of Canada 1959-67, soldier, diplomat, (born 23 April 1888 in Montreal; died 5 March 1967 in Ottawa). Vanier was the first French Canadian to serve as governor general. As a diplomat, he and his wife helped many Europeans displaced by the Second World War. A devout Christian, he urged love and unity amid the emergence of Quebec separatism in the 1960s. In 1988 he was named the most important Canadian in history by Maclean’s magazine.
John Neilson, newspaperman, publisher, editor, politician (born 17 July 1776 in Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland; died 1 February 1848 in Québec City, Canada East). A staunch moderate, John Neilson supported a greater balance of power in the colony. Sympathetic to French-Canadians, he was a deputy with the Parti canadien in the Legislative Assembly – which later became the Parti patriote – and broke away when the party radicalized in the 1830s. Though he opposed the party’s republican and nationalist policies, Neilson continued to fight for French-Canadians, heavily condemning the Union of the Canadas in 1841.
Brad Wall, businessman, politician, 14th premier of Saskatchewan 2007–18 (born 24 November 1965 in Swift Current, SK). Wall led the new Saskatchewan Party to power, presided over a time of stunning economic prosperity for his province, and became one of Canada's leading conservative voices in the early 21st Century.
Joseph-Antoine Le Febvre de La Barre, governor of New France 1682-85 (b in France 1622; d at Paris, France 1688). La Barre's administration in New France was disastrous, particularly from a military point of view. Like many governors, he enriched himself in the FUR TRADE.
Pierre de Voyer d'Argenson, governor of New France 1658-61 (bap in France 19 Nov 1625; d there 1709?). There was an Iroquois attack the day following Governor d'Argenson's arrival at Québec, and negotiations with and defence against these powerful enemies were his major preoccupations.
Justin Pierre James Trudeau, PC, 23rd prime minister of Canada 2015–present, teacher, public issues advocate (born 25 December 1971 in Ottawa, ON). The son of Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister, Justin has repeatedly defied expectations. In 2007, he won the Liberal nomination in the Montréal riding of Papineau, beating the establishment’s candidate. A year later, he was elected to the House of Commons, confounding pundits who insisted the Trudeau name was political poison among francophone voters. After winning the Liberal Party leadership in 2013, Trudeau propelled the party from third place to first in the House, becoming prime minister at the head of a majority government.2
Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the James Bay Cree Nation of Iiyuuschee/Cree Regional Authority (1987-1999, 2009–), National Chief of AFN (2000-2003); activist, environmentalist (born in 1956 near Mistissini, Québec). Matthew Coon Come was elected Grand Chief of the James Bay Cree Nation five times, and served one term as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He achieved national and international fame through his successful opposition to the James Bay hydroelectric project in the 1990s, his assertion of Cree self-determination in relation to Québec separatism, and his advocacy for Aboriginal self-determination across the world.
Frank Arthur Calder, OC, Nisga’a politician, chief, businessman (born 3 August 1915, Nass Harbour, BC; died 4 November 2006 in Victoria, BC). Frank Calder was the first Indigenous member of a Canadian legislature, elected in 1949 during the BC general election. Calder is best known for his role in the Nisga’a Tribal Council’s Supreme Court case against the province of British Columbia (commonly known as the Calder case), which demonstrated that Aboriginal title (i.e., ownership) to traditional lands exists in modern Canadian law.
Mistahimaskwa (Big Bear), Plains Cree chief (born near Fort Carlton, SK; died 17 January 1888 on the Little Pine Reserve, SK). Mistahimaskwa is best known for his refusal to sign Treaty 6 in 1876 and for his band’s involvement in violent conflicts associated with the 1885 North-West Rebellion.