Joseph Boyden, CM, author (born 31 October 1966 in Toronto, ON). Joseph Boyden's work focuses on the historical and contemporary experience of First Nations peoples of Northern Ontario. He became widely known in Canada following the publication of his debut novel, Three Day Road (2005), which won numerous awards and was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. His second novel, Through Black Spruce, won the 2008 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015. Born in Toronto to Blanche and Raymond Wilfrid Boyden, a highly decorated medical officer who served in the Second World War, Boyden has claimed Indigenous heritage through both his father’s and mother’s ancestry. However, he has been accused of misrepresenting himself by those who say his claims cannot be documented or confirmed.2
Marie Arzélie Éva Circé-Côté, journalist, writer and librarian (born 31 January 1871 in Montréal, QC; died 4 May 1949 in Montréal, QC). A poet and playwright, Éva Circé-Côté was the city of Montréal’s first librarian as well as the curator of the prestigious Philéas Gagnon collection. Throughout her career as a journalist, she wrote over 1,800 pieces for about a dozen newspapers under several pseudonyms. A progressive, secular free thinker, she fought for compulsory education and the status of women.
Laurent-Olivier David, lawyer, journalist, newspaper owner, writer, politician (born 24 March 1840 in Sault-au-Récollet (Montréal), QC; died 24 August 1926 in Outremont, QC). David was responsible for founding the Monument-National and was the author of a number of biographies of famous Canadians.
Lawrence Hill, CM, novelist, journalist, educator, documentary writer (born 1957 in Newmarket, ON). Lawrence Hill is one of the most important contributors to Black culture in Canada, and the publication of his internationally acclaimed novel The Book of Negroes (2007) has placed him among Canada's most successful writers. He is a Member of the Order of Canada.
Florence Bayard Bird (née Rhein, pseudonym Anne Francis), CC, senator, journalist, broadcaster and author (born 15 January 1908 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died 18 July 1998 in Ottawa, Ontario). Chair of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada from 1967 to 1970, Florence Bird made her name as a broadcast journalist for CBC/Radio-Canada, reporting news and producing documentaries on women’s working conditions and on conditions for women in Canada’s prisons.
Idola Saint-Jean, feminist and pioneer in the fight for women’s suffrage (born 19 May 1880 in Montréal, QC; died 6 April 1945 in Montréal). The first woman from Québec to run as a candidate in a federal election, she devoted over 20 years of her life to active efforts to improve women’s legal rights.
A writer of Chinese Malaysian descent, Madeleine Thien burst onto the Canadian literary scene in 2001 with her collection of stories Simple Recipes, which prompted Alice Munro to note that an important new voice had arrived. Thien's 2016 novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing won both the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Robertine Barry (pen name: Françoise), journalist, publisher, author and feminist (born 26 February 1863 in L’Isle-Verte, Canada East; died 7 January 1910 in Montréal, Québec). The first French-Canadian woman journalist, she was also a founding member of the Fédération nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste and the first vice-president of the Canadian Women’s Press Club.
George Elliott Clarke, poet, anthologist (b at Windsor Plains, NS 12 Feb 1960). George Elliott Clarke was born near Windsor Plains, a black Loyalist community, and grew up in Halifax. He earned a BA at the University of Waterloo, an MA at Dalhousie, and a PhD at Queen's University.
Margret Benedictsson (née Jonsdottir), journalist, social activist, suffragist (born 16 March 1866 in Hrappsstadir, Iceland; died 13 December 1956 in Anacortes, Washington). Benedictsson brought her deeply held beliefs and interest in social change to Manitoba. Through her service to the Icelandic communities in Selkirk, Gimli, and Winnipeg, she championed women’s suffrage, education, improved working conditions, and human rights.
Bernard Landry, GOQ, lawyer, politician, premier of Québec 2001–03 (born 9 March 1937 in Saint-Jacques de Montcalm, Québec). A Cabinet minister in the governments of René Lévesque, Pierre-Marc Johnson, Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard, Bernard Landry was influential in shaping Québec’s economic, trade and financial sectors. The 28th premier of Québec (from 2001 to 2003), Landry signed the Agreement Respecting a New Relationship Between the Cree Nation and the Government of Quebec, supported the Kyoto Protocol and made Québec’s economy a top priority. Following a vote of confidence, he stepped down as leader of the Parti Québécois in June 2005 and returned to university-level teaching.
Thomas King, CM, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, screenwriter, photographer (born 24 April 1943 in Roseville, California). A Member of the Order of Canada and two-time nominee for the Governor General’s Award, King is often described as one of the finest contemporary Aboriginal writers in North America.
Jane Vance Rule, CM, OBC, writer, teacher and activist (born 28 March 1931 in Plainfield, NJ; died 27 November 2007 in Galiano Island, BC). Rule was a ground-breaking novelist and essayist whose work explored the lives of lesbians, beginning at a time when homosexuality was still a crime in Canada (see LGBT Rights in Canada). Her first novel, Desert of the Heart, is perhaps her best known. It was adapted into the film Desert Hearts in 1986. Rule is the author of seven novels and several collections of essays and short stories. She was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 1998 and the Order of Canada in 2007.