The Manitoba Lists / All Things Manitoban

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Famous Manitobans

By Gordon Sinclair Jr.

FREE PRESS readers have nominated the 100 most important Manitobans in history. Louis Riel, ``The Father of Manitoba,'' received the most nominations and takes the No. 1 spot.

1. Louis Riel -- the Metis leader hanged for treason after the Northwest Rebellion who has since become recognized as the Father of Manitoba.

2. Sir Thomas Button -- Manitoba's own Columbus sailed from London on the ship Discovery in April 1612 in search of the Northwest Passage and the missing Henry  Hudson and became the first white man to set foot in what is now Manitoba. Button erected a wooden cross, naming the place Port Nelson and taking possession of the territory for King James of England.

3.Thomas Douglas -- a.k a. Lord Selkirk, a Scottish nobleman who established the first agricultural colony in present-day Manitoba.

4 Chief Peguis -- Ojibway chief whose generous support of the Selkirk Settlers helped them survive the first difficult winters.

5. Sir William Stephenson -- a.k.a. Intrepid, worked as  a spy for Winston Churchill, heading up British secret  service counter-espionage in North America; also credited with inventing technology that led to the modern day fax.

6.Donald Smith -- a.k.a Lord Strathcona, as governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, he helped pave Manitoba's  entry into Confederation and later drove the last spike for the CPR transcontinental railway.

 7. Lila Bell Acheson Wallace -- Co-founder with her American-born husband of Reader's Digest, she was born near Virden to a clergyman and his wife but left the province in infancy. In 1956 she and her brother, Barclay, then the chairman of the international editions  of Reader's Digest, sent a message to Virden on its 75th anniversary expressing their gratitude for ``the heritage of culture and fine traditions given them by  Canada.''

 8. Nellie McClung -- suffragist, reformer, legislator and author who worked to get Manitoba women the vote in1916 and have women legally declared ``persons'' in  1929.

  9. Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Sieur de la Verendrye -- French explorer who became the vanguard of the fur-trading industry by becoming the first European known to have reached the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, the site of present-day Winnipeg.

10 Cuthbert Grant -- leader of the Metis at the Battle of Seven Oaks who was later appointed Warden of the Plains.

11. Archbishop Norbert Provencher -- helped establish the Roman Catholic Church in Manitoba.

12. Thomas Scott -- Riel's opponent whose execution by the Metis provisional government in 1870 contributed to Riel's own execution in 1885.
13. John Norquay -- Metis who served as Manitoba's first
native-born premier from 1878 to 1887, championing party politics and attacking the CPR's railway monopoly.

14. J.H. Ashdown -- Winnipeg hardware magnate and wholesaler who supplied the homesteaders who opened the West.

15. Sir Clifford Sifton -- Immigration minister under Wilfred Laurier who was largely responsible for the acceptance of Eastern Europeans as settlers in Western Canada.

16. Brian Dixon -- A Winnipeg corporate lawyer who went on to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and take a leading role in defining individual rights and liberties through the earliest interpretations of the Canadian Constitution.

17 Ernest Thompson Seton -- Renowned naturalist, author and artist who immortalized the Carberry desert with his detailed drawings and bestselling books.

18 Cora Hind -- Agriculture correspondent for the Free Press whose grain forecasts were so accurate that markets would rise and fall on her predictions.

19 J.S. Woodsworth -- First leader of the Co-operative  Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the forerunner of the NDP  and one of the leaders of the 1919 Winnipeg Strike.

20 Rev. C.W. Gordon -- a.k.a Ralph Conner, who sold millions of books continent wide and was Canada's biggest-selling author at the turn of the century.

21 Deanna Durbin -- a.k.a ``Winnipeg's sweetheat,'' was born in Winnipeg but raised from infancy in California where she became a teenage singing star in 1936 and the highest-paid actress in 1948 when she retired to seclusion in France.

22 John W. Dafoe -- Free Press editor, confidante of Prime Minister McKenzie King and principal writer of the Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations.

23-24 Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farley -- co-founders of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

25 Gabrielle Roy -- St. Boniface author and three-time winner of the Governor General's Award.

26 James A. Richardson -- Winnipeg businessman who diversified the family's grain business, launching new radio services and founding Western Canada Airways, forerunner of Canadian Airlines.

27-28 Dr. Bruce Chown and Dr. John Bowman -- Medical researchers who saved thousands of lives through the development of immunization that allowed Rh-negative mothers to have children without risk of fatal Rh disease in their newborns.

28 Margaret Rogers Konantz -- Liberal who in 1963 became the first Manitoba woman elected to the House of Commons.

29 Steve Juba -- Mayor of Winnipeg for 20 years (1957-77), who helped secure of the 1967 Pan-Am Games, was involved in the creation of the Winnipeg Convention Centre and was part of the unification of Winnipeg and its suburbs in 1972.

30 Edward Schreyer -- first leader of an NDP government in Canada who was appointed Governor General of Canada by a Liberal government.

31 Kathleen Richardson -- Manitoba's's leading philanthropist and supporter of a wide range of cultural and social organizations.

32 Maurice Strong -- Self-educated entrepreneur who became renowned as a UN diplomat, oil tycoon, environmentalist and business administrator.

33 Marshall McLuhan -- Internationally recognized communications theorist whose most famous theory was encapsulated in the words, ``The medium is the message.''

34 W.L. Morton -- Manitoba's pre-eminent historian and author of Manitoba: A History.

35 Anne Ross -- Longtime director of the Mount Carmel Clinic and ardent champion of family planning.

36 Margaret Laurence -- Controversial Neepawa-born author who based some of her books on life in the small town.

37 Ben Hatskin -- Helped found the World Hockey Association and pave the way for the Winnipeg Jets entry into the national Hockey League.

                         38 Burton Cummings -- Lead singer of The Guess Who,
                         international bestselling rock group.

                         39 Baldur Stefansson -- a.k.a. The Father of Canola, the
                         University of Manitoba researcher who invented a new
                         strain of rape seed known as canola whose yellow flower
                         literally changed the face of the Prairies.

                         40 Etienne Gaboury -- St. Boniface architect who
                         designed the Royal Canadian Mint and Canada's embassy in

                         41 Georges Forest -- St. Boniface businessman whose
                         court battles against unilingual parking tickets led to
                         the reintroduction of French services in provincial
                         government institutions.

                         42 Bobby Clarke -- the boy from Flin Flon who went on to
                         captain Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers and
                         become their general manager.

                         43 Israel H. Asper -- a.k.a ``Izzy,'' former Manitoba
                         Liberal leader whose development of Winnipeg-based
                         CanWest Global Communications turned him into a media
                         baron and placed him on Forbes magazine's list of the
                         most wealthy people in the world.

                         44 Lloyd Axworthy -- Winnipeg MP and political
                         benefactor who, as Canada's foreign minister, championed
                         the campaign to create an international treaty banning   landmines.

                         45 Jackson Beardy -- aboriginal artist whose paintings
                         drew deeply on his Cree background and greatly
                         influenced other native artists.

                         46 Tomson Highway -- Northern Manitoba author and
                         playwright who was named one of Canada's 100 most
                         important people in Canadian history by Maclean's

                         47 Evelyn Hart -- Principal dancer with the Royal
                         Winnipeg Ballet and also named one of the 100 most
                         important Canadians in history by Maclean's magazine.

                         48 Murray Sinclair -- Selkirk-raised first aboriginal
                         judge in Manitoba and second native judge in Canada;
                         co-commissioner on historic Aboriginal Justice Inquiry.

                         49 Leo Mol -- Ukrainian-born sculptor whose works grace
                         a garden named in his honour at Assiniboine Park.

                         50 Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald -- Winnipeg artist and art
                         school principal who was a latter-day member of The
                         Group of Seven.

                         51 Carol Shields -- American-born author who won the
                         Pulitzer Prize for Literature while living and working
                         in Winnipeg.

                         52. Stanley Knowles -- New Democratic MP for Winnipeg
                         Centre who was known as the conscience of Parliament and
                         crusader for the rights of the working person.

                         53 Tommy Prince -- Great grandson of Chief Peguis and
                         the most decorated aboriginal Canadian soldier who
                         served in the Second World War and Korea.

                         54 Tom Lamb -- Bush pilot who founded Lambair and helped
                         open the North to development.

                         55 Elijah Harper -- New Democratic MLA who
                         single-handedly stopped Manitoba approving the Meech
                         Lake Accord and became a symbol of aboriginal
                         self-determination and pride.

                         56 Sir George Simpson -- Governor of the Hudson's Bay
                         Company and in effect ruler of pre-Confederation

                         57-59 Cpl. Leo Clarke, Sgt. Maj. Fred Hall and Lt. Col.
                         Bob Shankland -- a.k.a. The Pine Street Boys, all lived
                         on the same Winnipeg street and all were awarded the
                         Victoria Cross for bravery during the First World War,
                         prompting renaming of Pine Street to Valour Road. Only
                         Shankland survived the war.

                         60-61 Lee Newton and David Northcott -- co-founders of
                         Winnipeg Harvest, the city's food bank.

                         62. Duff Roblin -- Conservative premier from 1958 to
                         1967 whose foresite created the Winnipeg Floodway and
                         saved governments and property owners billions of
                         dollars in flood damage over the last three decades of
                         the 20th century.

                          63 Joe Zuken -- Communist who served 42 years as an
                         elected official in Winnipeg, from the Second World War
                         through the Cold War, from school board to city council.
                         A political loner through all those years, he still led
                         the successful fight to have kindergartens introduced in
                         Winnipeg schools.

                         64 Terry Sawchuk -- One of the NHL's all-time great

                         65 Lynn Johnston -- For Better of Worse, Lynn Lake's
                         gift to the world of syndicated comic strips.

                         66 Susan Auch -- Speedskater and two-time Olympic silver
                         medallist, 1994 and 1998.

                         67 Sister Geraldine MacNamara -- a teacher, lawyer and
                         nun who founded Rossbrook House, a 24-hour drop-in
                         centre she started from her basement.

                         68 Patrick Burns -- An eastern-born farm boy with little
                         formal schooling who moved to a homestead near
                         Minnedosa, walking the final 250 kilometres from
                         Winnipeg, after the Riel uprising and went on to found a
                         packing plant that became Burns Meats.

                         69 Mother Superior Sister Valade -- head of the Grey
                         Nuns who founded St. Boniface Hospital.

                         70 Monty Hall -- North end boy who made good in
                         California as host of top-rated TV game show Let's Make
                         A Deal and whose philanthropic work proved he never
                         forget where he came from.

                         71 Tom Jackson -- Aboriginal singer and actor whose
                         travelling Christmas road show, The Huron Carole, raises
                         money for food banks across Canada

                         73 Billy Barker -- First World War ace pilot from
                         Dauphin who downed 53 enemy planes and won the Victoria
                         Cross for flying into single-handed combat with some 60
                         German aircraft on Oct. 27, 1918.

                         74 Billy Mosienko -- Scored the fastest three goals in
                         NHL history -- 21 seconds -- and then returned to
                         captain and coach the Winnipeg Warriors at the end of
                         his career.

                         75 Gerry James -- a.k.a. Kid Dynamite, who played with
                         both the Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the
                         Toronto Maple Leafs when there were only six National
                         Hockey League teams.

                         76 Senator Sharon Carstairs -- Liberal MLA who became
                         the first woman to lead a Manitoba political party.

                         77 Neil Young -- Kelvin High School student who went on
                         to make the cover of Rolling Stone and become one of
                         biggest names in American rock 'n' roll.

                         78 Randy Bachman -- Songwriter, singer and guitarist
                         with The Guess Who and later Bachman-Turner Overdrive.

                         79 Andrew Mynarski -- War hero and Manitoba's only
                         recipient of the Victoria Cross in the Second World
80 Beatrice St. Amant -- founded the Youville Epileptic
                         Hospital that became the St. Amant Centre.

                         81 Arthur DeFehr -- President and CEO of Palliser
                         Furniture, who made a company founded on Christian
                         ethics one of Canada's largest furniture manufacturers
                         and one of Manitoba's largest employers.

                         82 Annie Bond -- founded Children's Hospital in 1909
                         with one baby patient in a house formerly owned by Sir.
                         John Shultz.

                         83 Archibald Stansfeld Belaney -- a.k.a. Grey Owl,
                         English-born writer and conservationist who tried to
                         realize his childhood dream of being an Indian by
                         masquerading as one in the Canadian wilderness. He went
                         on to be appointed to Riding Mountain National Park to
                         look after the beaver conservation program.

                         84. W.D. Friesen -- founder of Friesen Printers, which
                         under grandson David Friesen would go on to become
                         Canada's dominant printer operating out of Altona with
                         branch plants in Toronto and San Francisco.

                         85 Vihjalmur Stefansson -- One of Canada's most renowned
                         arctic explorers who was also an ethnologist, lecturer
                         and writer who created more interest in the far North
                         among Canadians than any other person of his time.

                         86 Claudia McPherson -- who became the youngest person
                         to swim the English Channel.

                          87 Peter Warren -- Journalist and broadcaster who
                         entertained, infuriated and informed Manitobans as the
                         host of the longest-running open line radio show in
                         North America.

                         88 W.F. Alloway -- Philanthropist whose donation of
                         $100,000 started the Winnipeg Foundation.

                         89 Loreena McKennitt -- Singer, songwriter, producer and
                         rural Manitoba's gift to popular culture.

                         90 Kelly Sveinson -- Inventor of the Selkirk Chimney,
                         which is used on homes world-wide.

                         91 Dr. Gordon Bell -- Chairman of the provincial health
                         board who worked tirelessly to overcome disease and
                         improve sanitation and who, during the deadly First
                         World War flu epidemic worked night and day to help the
                         stricken population.

                         92 Bill Mason -- Attributed with being the most
                         successful filmmaker in the history of the National Film
                         Board, who was twice nominated for Oscars and twice won
                         British academy awards.

                         93 John Hirsch -- Founder of the Manitoba Theatre

                         94 Dr. P.J.E. Peebles -- was part of a group of
                         physicists at Princeton University who developed the Big
                         Bang Theory for which he was awarded the Albert Einstein
                         Chair at Princeton.

                         95 James McDiarmid -- founder, along with his brother
                         John, of McDiarmid Bros. Construction, which went on to
                         build the Legislative Building, Pantages Theatre and the
                         arts building at the University of Manitoba. His brother
                         Charles started McDiarmid Lumber and nephew J.S.
                         McDiarmid became Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba.

                         96 Phil Fontaine -- Aboriginal leader and residential
                         school survivor who went on to become Grand Chief of the
                         Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

                         97 Jack Jacobs -- a.k.a. The rifle-armed Blue Bomber
                         quarterback whose popularity is credited with making
                         Winnipeg Stadium ``The House that Jack Built.

                         98 Albert Cohen -- founder of Gendis Inc. and the man
                         who brought Sony and its transistor radios to Canada.

                          99 Joyce Milgaard -- whose faith in her son's innocence
                         and relentless pursuit of justice freed David Milgaard
                         from prison for a murder he didn't commit.

                         100 John S. Sanderson -- Scottish immigrant who staked
                         the first homestead in Western Canada, July 2, 1872,
                         near Portage la Prairie.