Happy Canada Day 2011: 15 Famous Canadians You Didn’t Know Were Canadian

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Happy Canada Day 2011

Photo: WireLizard

Happy Canada Day, everyone! Canada is 144 years old today, established as an independent nation on July 1, 1867.

For our beloved American cousins reading this, and because we Canadians are always telling people who is Canadian that you’ve heard of (it’s a national trait!), here’s a select list (in no order) of people you might have thought were American, but are actually from here in the Great White North.

This list doesn’t include Justin Bieber. Everyone knows he’s Canadian by now.

Anyway, take a look!

1. Alexander Graham Bell (inventor)

He invented the telephone. And he was born in Scotland, sure. But, he was a naturalized Canadian, folks!

2. Kiefer Sutherland (actor)

Jack Bauer, the all-American hero may be red, white, and blue. But, the guy who plays him has pure maple syrup running through his veins. That’s figurative maple syrup, of course.

3. James Cameron (filmmaker)

He’s the King of the World! Actually, he’s from Kapuskasing, Ontario, which isn’t even a monarchy.

4. Joe Shuster (artist, co-inventor of Superman)

Truth, Justice, and the American Way! Well, with a dash of the Canadian way thrown in. Shuster was born in Toronto, and moved to Cleveland when he was a child. Shuster met writer Jerry Siegel in the early 30s, and went on to create one of the most iconic American characters in literature – The Man of Steel. This is probably why Supes is so polite!

5.  Margot Kidder (actor)

… And speaking of Superman, a Canadian played Lois Lane in 1978’s Superman: The Movie, and 1980’s Superman II. Margot Kidder is from Yellowknife, North West Territories! Great Caesar’s Ghost!

maple syrup

photo: jspatchwork

6. Peter Jennings (ABC news anchor)

Once one of America’s most prominent TV news anchors before his death in 2005, Jennings had to force himself not to say “eh”, at the end of every sentence during broadcasts. Well, not really. I actually totally made that up, eh.  But, he was Canadian.

7. Alex Trebek (Jeopardy host)

“I’ll take TV personalities from Sudbury Ontario for 800, Alex!”

8. Joni Mitchell (musician, painter)

Associated with Los Angeles and the Laurel Canyon scene of singer-songwriters by the late 60s and early 70s, Mitchell was actually born in Alberta, and raised in Saskatchewan where there are PLENTY of rivers to skate away on (that’s a lyrical reference which is WAY funny. Really.).

9. Keanu Reeves (actor, of sorts)

Whoa! Reeves grew up in Toronto, making his screen acting debut on the CBC. After that, he formed a band: Wyld Stallyns! Then it was the Matrix, where he played co-lead with another Canadian, Carrie-Ann Moss. We’re everywhere, eh.

10. Louis B. Mayer (producer, studio executive)

Co-Founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, Russian-born Mayer grew up in Eastern Canada, in New Brunswick before leaving to seek his fortune in the United States at the age of 19. He founded a studio with Sam Goldwyn that would be profitable even through the Great Depression. Decent, eh.

Canada Goose


11. Pamela Anderson (actor, animal activist, former pinup)

She’s from Ladysmith, British Columbia. Well, most of her is.

12. Kim Cattrall (actor, author)

She’s also from B.C, where she grew up in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island. Most of you know her from Sex In The City, in which she played a id-driven single woman. But, I know her from Star Trek 6,where she played a super-ego driven vulcan.  How could anyone suspect I’d work Sigmund Freud into this post?

13. Douglas Coupland (author, visual artist)

This Vancouverite coined the terms “Generation X”, and “McJob”, and is counted as one of the key post-modern writers, and pop culture critics working today. He also wrote a book about being Canadian – Souvenir of Canada. So, check that out!

14. David Cronenberg (filmmaker)

You know that movie from the 80s where the guy’s head explodes? It’s a metaphor for what happens when a Canadian tries not to say ‘sorry’. And David Cronenberg should know; he’s from Toronto.

15. James Doohan (actor)

You all knew William Shatner was Canadian. But, did you know that the actor who immortalized the excitable, Scotch-drinking USS Enterprise Chief Engineer Commander Montgomery “Scotty” Scott was also from the Great White North? Well. Now you do. He hailed from right here in Vancouver. That’s accent was just acting.

And that’s the second Star Trek reference in this post. What gives?


So, there you have it. Of course, there are scores and scores of other people in these fields and beyond that hail from this sparsely populated, but quietly determined nation to the north of you. Have you got some favourites not on this list? Add them in the comments section.

And have a great Canada Day, even if you’re stuck at work! Just think: July 4th isn’t all that far away!



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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.