Sir John Alexander Macdonald was the dominant creative mind which produced the British North America Act and the union of provinces which became Canada. As the first prime minister of Canada, he oversaw the expansion of the Dominion from sea to sea. His government dominated politics for a half century and set policy goals for future generations of political leaders.
William “Bible Bill” Aberhart, teacher, radio evangelist, premier of Alberta from 1935 to 1943 (born 31 December 1878 in Hibbert Township, Perth County, ON; died 23 May 1943 in Vancouver, BC). An important influence in religious sectarianism in Western Canada, Aberhart led the world’s first Social Credit government, which dominated Alberta politics until 1971.
Charles Joseph “Joe” Clark, PC, CC, journalist, author, 16th prime minister of Canada 1979-80, (born 5 June, 1939 at High River, AB). Clark was Canada's youngest prime minister when he took office one day before his 40th birthday. His brief term put a temporary end to 16 years of Liberal rule. He later gained respect as a senior minister in the Progressive Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, especially on the international stage.2
Ralph Garvin Steinhauer, OC, lieutenant-governor of Alberta, Indigenous leader, farmer (born 8 June 1905 in Morley, North-West Territories [now AB]; died 19 September 1987 in Edmonton, AB). The first Indigenous person to serve as lieutenant-governor of a Canadian province, he was committed to Indigenous affairs in Alberta and Canada.
Paul Gérin-Lajoie, CC, GOQ, lawyer and politician (born 23 February 1920 in Montréal, QC), is one of the great figures of Québec’s Quiet Revolution. He served as minister of Youth (1960–64) and Education (1964–66) in the Québec Liberal government of Jean Lesage. Gérin-Lajoie was responsible for reforming Québec’s education system and formulating Québec’s first international-relations policy, two milestone achievements of this period that helped to define modern Québec. He has also played a leading role in the field of international development, as president first of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and then of the Paul Gérin-Lajoie Foundation.
Bill Wilson (Hemas Kla-Lee-Lee-Kla), Kwagiulth (Kwakwaka’wakw) hereditary chief, politician, administrator (born in 1944 in Comox, BC). A leading theorist in British Columbia Indigenous politics, he was also influential in a successful proposal to amend the Constitution Act, 1982 to enshrine Indigenous rights. He is the father of Jody Wilson-Raybould, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada (2015–), who has continued his legacy.1
Joseph “Joey” Roberts Smallwood, CC, premier of Newfoundland (1949–72), journalist (born 24 December 1900 in Mint Brook, NL; died 17 December 1991 in St. John's, NL). The leading proponent of Confederation in Newfoundland in the 20th century, Joey Smallwood played an important role in bringing the province into Confederation in 1949. He served as Newfoundland and Labrador’s first premier for nearly 23 years, and is sometimes referred to as “the last Father of Confederation.” During his lifetime, he was also called “the only living Father of Confederation.”
John Napier Turner, PC, CC; sprinter, politician, lawyer, prime minister (born in Richmond, England, 7 June 1929). Turner is best known for his early political service as federal justice minister and finance minister, and for the 1988 free trade election battle with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Turner's 11-week term as prime minister is the second shortest in Canadian history, after Sir Charles Tupper (10 weeks).1
Dwight Ball, pharmacist, businessman, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador 2015 to present (born 21 December 1957 in Deer Lake, NL). Ball became premier at a time of economic crisis. After several years of prosperity, slumping oil revenues required his government to bring in unpopular austerity measures to fight a burgeoning provincial debt.
Jean Drapeau, CC, GOQ, lawyer, politician, mayor of Montréal 1954¬–57 and 1960–86 (born 18 February 1916 in Montréal, Québec; died 12 August 1999 in Montréal). Jean Drapeau’s longevity as a politician was such that during his 29 years as mayor of Montréal, seven prime ministers and nine Québec premiers took office. He gave Montréal its largest piece of urban transit infrastructure, the Montréal metro, and two of its greatest moments: a 1967 World Exposition celebrating Canada’s centennial that drew 50 million visitors, and the 1976 Olympic Summer Games. However, he also presided over the decline of Montréal as Canada’s business capital and largest city.