Known for the maple syrup, ice hockey, extremely cold weather, the place Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and really polite people, Canada is also known as the birthplace to some of the world’s most influential people in history – who, ultimately, helped put the Great White North on the map.
1. Céline Dion
Hailing from Charlemagne, Quebec, singer Céline Dion started her singing career in 1981 at the age of just 13 years old, and was crowned the Queen of Pop by the mid-1990s. The French Canadian diva is recognised for – besides singing “My Heart Will Go On” – transcending all language barriers with her music. She’s been recognised by world organisations like UNESCO, honoured by the Order of Canada, and she’s an advocate for cystic fibrosis research. Dion has also been credited for revitalising and revolutionising the Las Vegas entertainment scene, influencing her peers like Elton John, Cher, Rod Stewart, and fellow Canadian Shania Twain to follow suit.
2. James Cameron
Three-time Academy Award winner James Cameron isn’t just famous for directing the blockbusters we all know and love: The Terminator, Rambo: First Blood Part II, Avatar, Aliens and, of course, Titanic. He’s also a celebrated environmentalist and explorer – he even takes credit for the discovery of new species of sea life in 2012. Cameron is a member of the NASA Mars Science Laboratory team, a robotic space probe mission to Mars, and is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence has made 33 submersible dives to the RMS Titanic to reinvestigate its sinking.
3. Roméo A. Dallaire
Celebrated humanitarian, author and retired senator, Roméo A. Dallaire is best known for his mission in genocide prevention. He commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda in the early 1990s, which was meant to aid the peace process between the Hutus and the Tutsis. Although the mission failed, Dallaire has been decorated by the Order of Canada, the National Order of Quebec, the US Legion of Merit, and the Aegis Trust for his peacekeeping efforts. He was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 2005, retiring in 2014 to spend more time “public speaking on international causes” and to deal with his “ongoing struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder”.
4. Michael J. Fox
Perhaps best known for his role as Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movie trilogy, Michael J. Fox is a strong advocate of Parkinson’s disease clinical research. He was first diagnosed with the disease in 1991 and, after having lived in denial for seven years, finally went public about it in 1998. He has since set up the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which aims to accelerate “breakthroughs patients can feel in their everyday lives”.
5. Pamela Anderson
Three things come to mind at the mention of Pamela Anderson’s name: Baywatch, Playboy, and… being busty. The Canadian actress, model, author, and producer has frequently been at the centre of controversy, especially for her sex tape with husband Tommy Lee and for posing nude for a PETA ad, but is best known for her animal rights and AIDS activism, and for even urging US president Barack Obama to legalise cannabis. In the same open letter to Mr. Obama, she called for child molesters to be castrated – understandably so, having been frequently sexually abused herself from a young age.