Greatest Canadians

After the success of the BBC show, the greatest Britton where Winston Churchill won the CBC is opening up debate across the Canadian to find out who was the greatest citizen this country ever had. The CBC is allowing every Canadian to nominate one person and the top 10 finalists will compete in the fall for the title. First Joe's opinion and then Dave's.

Joe's Opinion

Well, since CBC is doing that "Greatest Canadian of All Time" to get some pub talks/fights going, I may as well put my two cents in. Now, I think it is a difficult to make a Top 10 list of these people, and I know I will be missing some people. This list can change from day to day depending on how I fell, but all these 10 are great.

10. Neil Young

He is one of the best poets and songwriters of all time. Did things his way, and didn't care what anyone else thought. I think the best thing about him is that he hates award shows, just like me.

9. Wayne Gretzky

I think he would be in most people's top 10 list. Hey, I maybe a Leaf fan, but he is the best player of all time. A class act guy on top of it, never let that success get to his head unlike other athletes today.


New York 2009

8. Bret "The Hitman" Hart

One of the greatest professional wrestlers and proformers of all time. I know lots of people hate pro wrestling, but Bret, and his family, espically Stu Hart have had a great impact on the community. A lot of people have looked up to him in a comic book hero sense. He is one of the most well known Canadians in the world, and is a great ambassador and person.

7. General Sir Arthur Currie

He lead the Canadian Corps during World War I, which many historians consider the point in which Canada turned into a real country (dispite what Lucienne Bouchard thinks). He is considered one of the best military leaders of the 20th Century who also cared about his men's well being and morale.

6. Alexander Graham Bell

Despite American desperation to make him into an American, when discredit him as the inventor of the telephone, he is still a great Scottish-Canadian. His invention revolutionized the way the world communicates, and probably the most famous inventors of all time.

5. John Molson

I think the name says it all. He started a small brewery in Montreal, which exploded (figuratively, not really) into a conglomerate of businesses. Through the years the business changed a lot, but the heart of the business has always been beer, and he can all give a cheers to John Molson, and all the other who give us that sweet liquid gold.

4. Emily Murphy

We all know of the five woman that fought for women's rights in this country, and they can all be on this list. I picked Emily Murphy to represent them all on this list. She was the first woman magistrate in the British Empire. She lead the case to the British Privy Council on persons rights, and won againist many obstacles.

3. Sir John A MacDonald

The first Prime Minister of Canada, and lead the creation of the railway. He wasn't without his controversies, like the CPR scanal, his drunkenness, and Louis Riel. All great leaders have marks like, that's what makes them great leaders. They make the hard decisions, and be able to weather the storms. Anyone who puts Pierre Trudeau ahead of him is a complete moron.


Montreal 2008

2. David Thompson

One of the greatest and underrated surveyor/explorer of all time. The area he mapped was about 2 million square miles of Western Canada and parts of the Pacific Northwest. He started surveying with the Hudson Bay Company, then the North West Company when he was a teenager. After he retired, he died in obstrity and pennyless in Montreal. His story and legend was brought back to life in the early 20th Century.

And Number 1...... Dr. Frederick Banting

Being a diabetic for a long time, taking needles filled with insulin a couple times of day, I may have a greater appreciation for him than others. Along with Dr. Charles Best, they isolated insulin, which breaks down sugar into energy in the body, and eventually developed the treatment for diabetics. Both of them won the Nobel Prize for their efforts. Before then, diabetes was one of the highest causes of death on the world, so this has saved millions of peoples lives, including mine.

Dave's Opinion

Although Joe made some picks as the Greatest Canadian there were a few undeserving nominees. Bret "The Hitman" was a fictious character and he shouldn't even be eligible because he was a performer not a athlete. Alexander Graham Bell wasn't a clear Canadian so he is disqualified. But John Molson. The beer company he founded has almost finished its penance to Canadians for his pro-American views and suggesting merger between the two countries. Number #2 was also huge shocker considering Joe is a surveyor. As a political science graduate I was very tempted just to nominate politicians. So I made a few rules in deciding who I should nominate. Only one politican from each political party and one individual only from a major field. The worst thing about the list is that the majority of Canadians are from Ontario and Quebec. This proves true that the majority of the decisions for this country have been decided by a select few. I hope this list represents the best Canada has offered the world. Without furthur adieu here is Dave's picks for the greatest Canadian.

10. Shania Twain

Canada's best selling female musician and world's top selling female country artist. Shania has definately made her mark and continues coming to this country and is proud of her nationality unlike another Canadian singer who performs in Las Vegas.

Notable Canadian Entertainers: Rick Mercer, Mike Myers, Bob and Doug Mackenzie

Quote: "I am a proud Canadian through and through. People love Canadians all over the world. I am very proud to be one especially in the times we live in right now. I stand very much for what Canada stands for."

9. John McRae

No other Canadian litery work is as well known as "In Flanders Field". It has withstood the test of time and will continue being a part of culture and recognizing how our war sacrifices have allowed us to live in peace today.

Notable Canadian writers: Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, Pierre Burton

Interesting Fact: His work is also inscribed in the dressing room the greatest hockey team of all-time- the Montreal Canadians. "To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high."

8. Mario Lemieux

Unlike Paul Henderson Mario has been an integral part of 2 Team Canada wins. The First is when he scored the game winning goal in 1987 and that moment was the passing of the torch as Lemieux took Gretzky's spot as the greatest player in the game. The next came 15 years later. During that time Mario won two cups, battling injuries, defeating cancer, and came back 3 years after he retired. Mario Lemieux was the real reason why Team Canada won the gold, scoring a key goal to tie the Czech republic despite playing with a bad hip and skating like an old tractor.

Notable Hockey Players: Wayne Gretzky, Marice "The Rocket" Richard, Gordie Howe

Quote: "He's the best player I've seen since I got into the league in '67. I've always said he's the most complete player I've seen because he can score, he can make plays, he's got the reach and, when you need defense, he can provide it." -Scotty Bowman, winningest coach in NHL history

7. Tommy Douglas

Tommy Douglas was first elected to the Saskatchewan House of Commons as a CCF MP in 1935. On June 15, 1944 the CCF and as leader he eventually got public healthcare in 1962. Without his iniative Canada would not have its present day universal healthcare.

Notable NDP politicians: Ed Broadbent, Roy Romanow, J.S. Woodsworth

Quote: "In was in those days I made up my mind that if ever I had the power I would, if it were humanly possible, see that the financial barrier between those who needed health services and those who gave health services was forever removed."

6. Pierre-Espirit Radison

Canada is the second largest country that needed to be explored by Europeans. The most famed Canadian explorers were the coureur des bois who explored uncharted Canadian waters and developed the fur trade. This coureur des bois is remembered mainly for discovering the south side of Hudson Bay and pursuading the King of England to grant a charter for the Hudson Bay Company to trade in the Canadian northwest.

Notable Explorers: David Thompson, Alexander Mackenzie, Samuel Champlain

5. Pierre Trudeau

Probably the most colourful politician this country ever had. He lead Canada through the FLQ crisis, brought bilingualism to Canada, and kept this country together during the Quebec referendum. But his crowning achievement was the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No only did he bring the constitution home but the Charter is a document that has effected every single Canadian law.

Notable Liberals: Wilfrid Laurier, Lester Pearson, Jean Chretien

Joe Clark's eulogy for Pierre Trudeau: "I am quite content to let history judge the legacy of his governments. That will not be a narrow accounting of laws and popularity. It will be an assessment of how a leader changed a society and, critic though I was of his signature initiatives, I expect that assessment will be positive and strong. He changed more than laws. He changed our image of ourselves at home and in the wider world, where he modernized and extended the international vocation of Canada. In that famous 1968 election I was on the other side with Robert Stanfield. I will never forget the eloquence with which Pierre Trudeau invoked and mobilized the spirit of this country in that first campaign, but he moved beyond eloquence to action, bold action. Like our first controversial Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, Pierre Trudeau would have built the railway."

4. Terry Fox

At the age of 22 Terry Fox was inflicted with cancer. Instead of becoming discouraged and hopeless he decided to run the Marathon of Hope. He dreamed of running across the entire country but that dream was shattered with progression of his cancer. His run has raised millions for cancer research and his run his held in over 60 countries.


Victoria 2008

Notable Canadian activists: Louis Riel, Poundmaker, The Famous Five

Quote: "Somewhere the hurting must stop"

3. Frederick Banting

Canada's first nobel prize winner. See Joe's response.

Notable scientists: Marc Garneau, William Stephenson, Alexander Graham Bell

2. Romeo Dallaire

Dallaire is a hero of the land of the true north strong and free. He encountered the worst of humanity in Rwanda and was deeply scarred by this experience. He was emotionally devastated and fought back to become a presence again. This time he would use his experiences to show how cruel human beings can be and how we can improve this world.

Notable Canadian Internationalists: Louis Arbour, Stephen Lewis, John Humphery

Quote: "And I mean I had people come on the ground and tell me that they were doing an estimate, because under their parameters, it would take about 85,000 dead Rwandans to risk one white or black Western soldier's life. I mean some of them actually had mathematics in this stuff. So when I'm asked, you know, why did you stay; why didn't you pack it in? I said if we can save one Rwandan, at least morally, we've attempted to stymie the debacle that was going on."

1. Sir John A MacDonald
Although Canadians like Wayne Gretzky, Terry Fox, and Pamela Anderson have a bigger profile worldwide John A MacDonald created Canada. Without question John A MacDonald is the greatest Canadian Prime Minister of all time. He created this country, built the world's first continental railroad, and protected us from American imperialism. A Scottish highlander who immigrated to Canada who would become a politician for 47 years, and leader of the Conservatives for 36 years, and prime minister for 25 years. He was born in the year 1815, in Glasgow, Scotland. In that year Napolean was still emperor of France. He died on June 11, 1891 when Germany and Italy were unified. Politicians such as Abraham Lincoln only served for nine years, and historical events such as the American Civil war and Franco-Prussian war were only brief flicker points in the life of Sir John.

Notable Conservative politicans: George-Etiennes Cartier, Joe Clark, Robert Borden

Wilfrid Laurier's Eulogy for Sir John A MacDonald: "The place of Sir John A. Macdonald in this country was so large and so absorbing that it is almost impossible to conceive that the politics of this country -- the fate of this country -- will continue without him. His loss overwhelms us. For my part, I say, with all truth, his loss overwhelms me, and that it also overwhelms this Parliament, as if indeed one of the institutions of the land had given way. Sir John A. Macdonald now belongs to the ages, and it can be said with certainty that the career which has just been closed is one of the most remarkable careers of this century ... As to his statesmanship, it is written in the history of Canada. It may be said without any exaggeration whatever, that the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the time he entered Parliament, is the history of Canada."

Related Links:


Canada's Top 10 Prime Ministers


Collaborative vs Divisive Politics


Victoria 2008



Updated: November 3, 2011
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