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Top Ten Most Famous Canadians Who Have Made a Cultural Impact on Society

A diverse country filled with culture, beauty and wondrous accomplishments. Canada is the proud home of many famous Canadians. These individuals have left their mark on the world and significantly enhanced the lives of many others through their tremendous accomplishments.

Here is my list of the top ten famous Canadians who have made a significant impact on society through the outstanding accomplishments they have made to Canada.

1. Bobby Orr, Athlete (1948 – ) Famous Canadians

Bobby Orr was born on March 20, 1948, in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada. During his career, he was one of the most famous professional hockey players the world has ever known. His exceptional speed, and ability to score goals and play the game of hockey have revolutionized the defenceman hockey position.

An (NHL) National Hockey League player for 12 seasons. Orr began his hockey career with the Boston Bruins for ten years. He then went on to play with the Chicago Black Hawks for two years. 

Orr is one of the only defencemen in history to ever win the hockey league. Earning two Art Ross Trophies. He has also earned the record of having the most assists and points in one hockey season by any defenceman.

During his career as a national hockey player, Orr has made several contributions to the culture of Canadian sports. He was awarded for his accomplishments eight Norris Trophies for best defenceman. He also earned three Hart Trophies for the most valuable player in the league.

In 1979, Orr was honoured at the Hockey Hall of Fame. This made him the youngest person to ever be inducted at the time. In 20017, Orr was honoured by the NHL (National Hockey League) as being one of the greatest hockey players of all time.

After his days of hockey-playing ended, he went on to become a scout for several national hockey teams. He also enjoys spending his time mentoring other talented young hockey players so they can succeed at the sport of skating.

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On the ice with famous Canadian Bobby Orr

2. Tim Horton, Athlete (1930 – 1974) Famous Canadians

Miles Gilbert Horton aka Time Horton was born on January 12, 1930, in Cochrane, Ontario, Canada. He was a professional hockey player and an entrepreneur. He played defence for the NHL (National Hockey League). 

Horton was also the founder of the famous coffee and donut franchise, Tim Hortons.  In 1964, he opened the doors to his first donut shop located in Hamilton. It didn’t take long for the business adventure to take off. 

After his death, the franchise grew to over 40 locations throughout Canada. By the 21st century, there were over 3500 Tim Hortons across Canada. They have continued to grow throughout recent years. Tim Horton’s name still graces the franchise in his memory to this day.

Playing his first hockey game with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1949, Horton failed to secure a place in the regular season line-up until 1952. He then played consecutively for two years. He injured himself during a collision with another hockey player, breaking his leg and his jaw in 1955. 

After taking a year off to recover. He went on to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to victory. Horton earned a total of four Stanley Cup Trophies from 1962 to 1967. 

Horton later went on to play for the New York Rangers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres from 1972 to 1974. While driving home from a game in Toronto, Horton tragically died in a single-car accident in 1974.

During his career as a professional hockey player in the NHL (National Hockey League), Horton had a total of 518 points and made three all-star appearances. In 1977, he was honoured in the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

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National hockey player, famous Canadian Tim Horton

3. Chris Hadfield, Astronaut (1959 – ) Famous Canadians

Chris Hadfield was born on August 29, 1959, in Sarnia, Ontario. He grew up in the nearby town of Milton. He has three children with his wife, Helene. 

After graduating high school with honours, Hadfield joined the Canadian Armed Forces. He then went on to earn a mechanical engineering degree at the Kingston Royal Military College. He also earned a degree in Master of Science and Aviation at the University of Tennessee. 

During basic flight training in Manitoba, Hadfield was awarded the honour of becoming the top pilot of 1980. Throughout his career, Hadfield has also earned many other awards, including the top pilot of the USAF Test Pilot School, and U.S. Test Pilot of the Year. 

In 1989, he began research for NASA in the field of flight simulation and engine performance. Here, he developed a rating scale for attack tests. Hadfield flew over seventy kinds of airplanes. 

In 1992, Hadfield was chosen as one of four Canadian astronauts from over 5000 applicants for the astronaut position. In August 1992, he assisted the Houston NASA Space Centre with safety and technical precautions for shuttle operations. From 1996 to 2000, he was the chief astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency. His accomplishments for NASA have been tremendous during his career as an astronaut. 

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Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield.

4. Lorne Michaels, Producer (1944 – ) Famous Canadians

Lorne Michaels was born on November 17, 1944, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a famous writer and producer. Michaels is best known for his contributions to the popular television show Saturday Night Live. 

He grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Michaels graduated in 1966 from the University of Toronto. His early career in television began in 1968 as a writer for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). This is where he made his mark. He later moved to Los Angeles. This is where Michaels became involved with Saturday Night Live. He also produced many other television shows during his career, including Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. 

Michael also produced several movies, including Tommy Boy, Wayne’s World, and Mean Girls, among others. He earned himself numerous awards during his successful career as a producer, including several Emmys and the Mark Twain Prize for Humour.

A proud homegrown Canadian. Michaels has worked hard to make a prestigious name for himself among other celebrities in the show business.

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Canadian producer, famous Canadian Lorne Michaels

5. Terry Fox, Athlete, Humanitarian (1958 – 1981) Famous Canadians

Terry Fox was born in 1958 in British Columbia, Canada. He was active in sports throughout his childhood years and into high school. He joined the basketball team and track. At the age of 18, he was in a car accident and injured his right knee. It was painful. But, he decided to put up with the pain until after the basketball season ended. Afterwards, the pain in his knee seemed to get worse instead of better. So he went to see a doctor.

He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his right knee. Fox had to have his leg amputated. He then underwent extensive chemo treatments and experimental drugs to combat his illness. Fox thought the diagnosis was a result of the injuries he sustained from the car accident. The doctors reassured him that it had nothing to do with the accident. He had a 50% survival rate.

Instead of lying around and moping about his illness. Fox decided to raise money for cancer research by running across Canada for the cause. In 1981, after taking experimental drugs, Fox began to feel chest pains. He had to put his run on hold during a hospital stay. He developed pneumonia. Fox tragically died in the Royal Columbia Hospital in New Westminster on June 19, 1981, at the age of 22.

Fox is remembered as a courageous Canadian hero.  Although he battled cancer. He still took the time to run for cancer awareness right up until his death. His memory lives on today in the hearts of many Canadians and others worldwide. Every year, many schools across Canada donate to the cancer fund in Terry Fox’s memory.

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Terry Fox, a True Canadian Hero

6. Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor (1847 – 1922) Famous Canadians

Alexander Grahm Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. His family immigrated to Canada in 1870. They settled down in Bradford, Ontario, Canada. Bell was a talented scientist. He first invented the telephone and the phonograph.

Bell was also a teacher at a deaf school in Boston. He was interested in this line of work because his mother was also deaf. Bell fell in love with one of his deaf students, Mabel Hubbard. The two married. They had four children together, including two daughters and two sons. Unfortunately, their sons died at birth.

While teaching, Bell explored ways to transmit messages through the telegraph using a wire. This would eventually lead him to the invention of the telephone. In 1876, the telephone was patented. Although it was not the most reliable form of transmission in its earliest stages. Through constant upgrades, Bell refined his invention into a workable discovery of long-distance communication.

The first long-distance call was made from Bradford, Ontario to Paris, Ontario via a single telegraph wire in 1876. It’s amazing over the years to see how much technology has advanced. It transformed from a single wireline of communication to cellphones and visual call displays. Communication tools are commonly used by everyone in today’s booming world of technology.

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Alexandre Grahm Bell was the famous Canadian who invented the telephone.

7. Sir Frederick Banting, Scientist (1891 – 1941) Famous Canadians

Frederick Banting was born on November 14, 1891, in Alliston, Ontario, Canada. He attended the University of Toronto. Here he earned his Medical Doctor degree. During the First World War, he joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps. In 1919, he was wounded during the battle. Banting received an award for his heroism during the war.

After the war, Banting became a surgeon at the Toronto Sick Children’s Hospital. He was also interested in diabetes. Banting enjoyed studying various treatment methods for the disease. This subsequently led to his discovery of insulin as a form of treatment for diabetes.

In 1923, he was honoured with a Nobel Prize for his contributions to the discovery of medicine. He continued to advance his education. Banting added more degrees to his list of expertise. He went on to earn several more prestigious awards.

Banting married in 1924. He had one son with Marin Robertson in 1928. During the Second World War, he remarried Henrietta Ball. In 1941, at the age of 49, Banting died in an airplane disaster in Newfoundland, Canada. His contributions to Canada will be fondly remembered.

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8. Keifer Sutherland, Actor (1966 – ) Famous Canadians

Keifer Sutherland was born December 21, 1966, in London, England. He moved to Canada with his mother in 1971. They settled in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Sutherland attended a private boarding school until the age of fifteen.

He was the son of the famous actor, Donald Sutherland. His father helped to give him a kickstart to his acting career. At seventeen, his career began. His first role was alongside his father, in the movie Throne of Strow. He went on to star in many other films, including Stand By Me, Flatliners and The Lost Boys.

In 1988, Sutherland founded Stillwater Productions. He directed many films. During his career as an actor and director, Sutherland has earned many awards, including the Golden Globe Award, and an Emmy Award, among several others.  Sutherland continues to make many contributions to the Canadian film industry. He has greatly benefited the Canadian culture of the arts with his exceptional acting talents.


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Canadian actor, Keifer Sutherland

9. Howie Mandel, Comedian (1955 – ) Famous Canadians

How Mandel was born on November 29, 1955, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a well-known Canadian television celebrity, actor and comedian. Mandel has appeared on many Canadian television productions, including NBC’s Deal or No Deal. 

Mandel started his career as a stand-up comedian at Yuk-Yuks in Toronto. People seemed to love him. They came in flocks to see his humour on the stage. Mandel made his start in acting with his role in the Canadian movie Gas. He then appeared in a drama film, St. Elsewhere on the Canadian television station NBC.

Although Mandel suffers from ADHD and OCD, he has managed to make a name for himself within the show business industry. 

Mandel is much-loved by many adoring fans worldwide. He has made incredible contributions to the Canadian arts through his tremendous talent as an actor and comedian.

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Famous Canadian, Howie Mandel.

10. Paul Anka, SInger (1941 – ) Famous Canadians

Paul Anka was born on July 30, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is a Canadian-born singer and songwriter. His much-loved songs became the most popular in the 1950s. Anka has diverse songwriting talents. His hits songs have been performed by talented artists, such as Michael Jackson, and Tom Jones, among many others.

Anka’s parents owned a small restaurant in Ottawa that became home to local and upcoming talent. This is where Anka taught himself to play the guitar and the piano. Anka then formed a local band called the Bobbysoxers with a few friends. They would often perform in the family restaurant.

This was just the beginning for Anka, who would later go on to achieve stardom with popular hits such as Puppy Love and Put Your Head on My Shoulders. Anka released over 12o albums. With more than 900 songs under his belt. Anka was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2008. 

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Canadian singer, Paul Anka

Final Thoughts About Famous Canadians

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Famous Canadians

There are numerous famous Canadians who have helped make a cultural impact on our society. I hope you enjoyed my top 10 influential Canadians. Let me know who you think should have made the list in your comments below. 

Thanks so much for reading.

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