The game is six degrees of Canadian history. Take two seemingly unrelated pieces of Canadian culture and connect the dots through various people, places and events to discover how they’re distantly — or maybe not-so-distantly — related. Along the way, we visit the quizzical and curious, the tragic and comic, and everything in between.
Louis B. Mayer, born Eliezer Mayer, studio executive (born at Minsk, Russia ca 1885; died at Los Angeles, Ca 29 Oct 1957). Louis B. Mayer's working-class family immigrated to New York when he was a small child, and in 1890 moved to Saint John, NB, where his father became a junk dealer.
Tomson Highway, CM, playwright, novelist, pianist and songwriter (born 6 December 1951 in northwestern Manitoba). A Member of the Order of Canada and named in Maclean's magazine as one of the 100 most important people in Canadian history, Tomson Highway has proved himself one of Canada’s most prominent and influential writers.
Boris Vladimirovich Volkoff, dancer, choreographer, ballet master and director (b Boris Vladimirovich Baskakoff at Schepotievo, Russia 24 Apr 1900; d at Toronto 11 Mar 1974). Although he often felt under-appreciated, Volkoff is now considered by many to be the godfather of Canadian ballet.
Walter Seymour Allward, sculptor (born 18 November 1876 in Toronto; died 24 April 1955 in Toronto). Walter Allward cemented his reputation as one of Canada’s greatest monumental sculptors with the mammoth Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France (1922–36), which commemorated the important Battle of Vimy Ridge (April 1917) and the more than 11,000 Canadians listed as missing in action during the First World War.
Julien Hébert, visual artist and designer (born 19 August 1917 in Rigaud, Québec; died 24 May 1994 in Montréal). Hébert is considered the father of modern design in Québec. Inspired by the Scandinavian modernism movement, which unites design, industry and craft (see Industrial Design), he dedicated his career to creating objects and environments that were organic, simple and functional, to encouraging local industry, and to developing industrial design teaching in his home province.
Alanis Obomsawin, OC, GOQ, filmmaker, singer, artist, storyteller (born 31 August 1932 near Lebanon, New Hampshire). One of Canada’s most distinguished documentary filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin began her career as a professional singer and storyteller before joining the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in 1967. Her award-winning films address the struggles of Indigenous peoples in Canada from their perspective, giving prominence to voices that have long fallen on deaf ears. An Officer of the Order of Canada and a Grand Officer of the National Order of Québec, she has received the Prix Albert-Tessier and the Canadian Screen Awards’ Humanitarian Award, as well as multiple Governor General’s Awards, lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees.
Elizabeth Posthuma Simcoe, née Gwillim, author and illustrator (baptized 22 September 1762 in Northamptonshire, England; died 17 March 1850 in Devon, England). Elizabeth was the wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada. She was an author and illustrator, renowned for her detailed diary and pictures depicting life in early Upper Canada.