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.
Observing the grim results of industrial capitalism in Canada and Britain, Woodsworth concluded that his church's stress upon personal salvation was wrong. Moving from middle-class pulpits to a city mission, All People's, Winnipeg, he worked with immigrant slum dwellers 1904-13.
Charles Vincent Massey, PC, CC, governor general 1952-59, historian, business executive, politician, diplomat, royal commissioner, patron of the arts (born 20 February 1887 in Toronto; died 30 December 1967 in London, England). Massey was the country’s first Canadian-born governor general. He helped create the Order of Canada in 1967, and as a champion of the arts in Canada laid the groundwork for the Canada Council, the National Library of Canada and the National Arts Centre.
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.
Ramon (Ray) John Hnatyshyn, PC, CC, governor general of Canada 1990-95, lawyer, lecturer, politician, (born 16 March 1934 in Saskatoon, SK; died 18 December 2002 in Ottawa). Described as a “man of the people,” the affable Ray Hnatyshyn opened the grounds of Rideau Hall to Canadians and made the office of governor general more genial and approachable than it had been under his predecessor. He called his appointment the greatest honour possible for an “average Canadian.”
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.
Sir James Douglas, governor of Vancouver Island (1851–63) and of British Columbia (1858–64), fur trader (born 15 August 1803 in Demerara [Guyana]; died 2 August 1877 in Victoria, BC). A resourceful, energetic and intelligent man, Douglas helped the Hudson’s Bay Company become a trading monopoly in the Pacific Northwest. As colonial governor, he initiated British rule west of the Rocky Mountains, and as the founder of settlement, trade and industry, he is remembered as “the Father of British Columbia.”
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.
Stephen Joseph Harper, PC, prime minister of Canada 2006–15, politician, author, economist (born 30 April 1959 in Toronto, ON). Stephen Harper is Canada’s longest-serving Conservative prime minister since Sir John A. Macdonald. After helping to found the Reform Party, and serving as head of the National Citizens Coalition and leader of the Canadian Alliance Party, he transformed the country’s political landscape by uniting the previously divided and moribund right into the Conservative Party of Canada. He led the CPC to three consecutive election wins before being defeated, and subsequently resigning as party leader, in 2015. Harper’s adherence to a brand of ideologically-pure conservatism resulted in what the Globe and Mail called “Canada’s first ever truly Conservative government.”2
Andrew John Weaver, OBC, FRSC, leader of the BC Green Party 2015–present, climate scientist (born 16 November 1961 in Victoria, BC). Andrew Weaver is a leading climate change researcher who has made historic gains for the Green Party of British Columbia in his second career as a politician. In 2013, he was elected the province’s first Green MLA. In 2017, he led the Greens to three seats. After the 2017 election, he engineered a power-sharing deal with the BC New Democratic Party and toppled the Liberal government of Christy Clark to help John Horgan become premier.
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.