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The Travellers

Active from 1953 to the 2000s, folk music group The Travellers were icons of Canada’s folk music revival. The first folk group signed by Columbia Records of Canada, The Travellers were best known for the patriotic enthusiasm of their Canadian lyrics for Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” The group influenced many in the folk music movement of the 1960s and 1970s and helped spread the messages of left-leaning social movements such as the labour rights movement. They made many popular recordings and often appeared on television and in concert, across Canada and internationally.


Paul-Émile Borduas

Paul-Émile Borduas, painter (b at St-Hilaire, Qué 1 Nov 1905; d at Paris, France 22 Feb 1960). Leader of the Automatistes and main author of the manifesto Refus Global, he had a profound influence on art in Québec.



​Merrill Beth Nisker (a.k.a. Peaches), singer, songwriter, musician, performance artist, filmmaker (born 11 November 1968 in Toronto, ON).


Kardinal Offishall

​Jason D. Harrow, rapper, music producer (born 12 May 1976 in Scarborough, ON). Dubbed “the best-kept secret in Canadian hip hop” by Billboard magazine, Kardinal Offishall played a central role in bringing Canadian hip hop from the underground to the mainstream in the late 1990s and early 2000s.



Award-winning indie rock band Metric has gained national and international attention for their socially and politically conscious lyrics and upbeat electro-pop, which incorporates elements of rock, new wave, electronica and grunge. Comprised of Emily Haines (vocals, keyboard), James Shaw (guitar), Josh Winstead (bass) and Joules Scott-Key (drums), the band has received three Juno Awards — for Alternative Album of the Year in 2010 and 2013, and Group of the Year in 2010 — multiple CASBY Awards and three nominations for the Polaris Music Prize.


Chris Hadfield

Chris Austin Hadfield, OC, OOnt, astronaut, military test pilot (born 29 August 1959 in Sarnia, ON). After a distinguished career as a test pilot, Hadfield became an astronaut in 1992. Over the course of his career, he achieved a series of Canadian firsts: he was the first Canadian to be a space mission specialist, to operate the Canadarm in orbit, to do a spacewalk and to command the International Space Station. He was also the first to record a music video in space — a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” — adding to his celebrity status. Hadfield retired from the Canadian Astronaut Corps in July 2013. In 2014, he began teaching in the University of Waterloo’s aviation program.


Authors and Their Milieu

Contemporary Canadian writers have won prestigious awards and honours at home and abroad. Among the most publicized of these events was Prix Goncourt awarded to Antonine Maillet for Pélagie-la-Charette.


Keanu Reeves

Keanu Charles Reeves, actor, producer, director, musician (born 2 September 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon). Keanu Reeves is one of the most recognizable film actors in the world. After early work in Toronto with the CBC and the NFB, he moved to Los Angeles and made a meteoric rise to stardom in such films as Dangerous Liaisons (1988), Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989), Point Break (1991) and My Own Private Idaho (1991). He is perhaps best known for action-adventure movies such as Speed (1994), the John Wick franchise and the four Matrix movies. He has been honoured with a star on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame.


Shania Twain

Shania Twain (born Eilleen Regina Edwards), aka Eilleen Twain, OC, singer, songwriter, guitarist, (born 28 August 1965 in Windsor, ON). Nicknamed the “Queen of Country Pop,” Shania Twain rose from rags to riches to become the biggest-selling female country artist of all time. Buoyed by sassy lyrics, a sexy image and slick production values, her smash hit recordings from 1995 to 2004 defied country music conventions, breaking numerous sales records and establishing her as an international superstar. She is the only female artist to have three consecutive albums sell more than 10 million copies in the United States. Her third album, Come On Over (1997), is the best-selling country album of all time, the biggest-selling album of the 1990s and the sixth biggest-selling in US history. An Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, she was the first non-American to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Academy of Country Music Awards. She has won nearly 200 major international awards, including multiple Juno, Grammy, SOCAN and Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Awards.


Rick Mercer

Richard Vincent Mercer, OC, satirist, comedian, screenwriter, actor, humanitarian (born 17 Oct 1969 in St. John’s, NL). Rick Mercer has parlayed his acerbic wit and voracious interest in politics into a career as one Canada’s foremost political and social commentators. Described by Maclean's magazine as “one of Canada’s most bankable television commodities,” he has combined his “mutually parasitic” relationship with politicians, his ability to connect with ordinary Canadians and a mischievous, court jester perspective to become the satirical conscience of English Canadian culture. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he has also excelled as a humanitarian through his involvement with numerous charities. He has received ten honorary degrees, 18 Gemini Awards, 12 Canadian Screen Awards and two Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, including one for lifetime achievement, among many other honours.



Arrangers. As a profession, arranging involves the centuries-old practice of changing the instrumentation or texture of a musical composition, often to adapt it to a performance medium that is different from the original.


Laurent-Olivier David

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.


Maestro Fresh Wes

Wesley Williams (a.k.a. Maestro Fresh Wes, Maestro), rapper, actor, author, motivational speaker (born 31 March 1968 in Toronto, ON). A pioneering hip-hop recording artist, Maestro Fresh Wes is often regarded as the “godfather of Canadian hip hop.” His debut album, Symphony in Effect (1989), was the first album by a Black Canadian artist to be certified platinum in Canada. It yielded the hit single “Let Your Backbone Slide,” one of the most successful and influential Canadian songs of all time. In 2019, it became the first rap song to be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Maestro has been nominated for 13 Juno Awards and won two, including the inaugural award for Rap Recording of the Year in 1991. He was named No. 1 on CBC Music’s 2013 list of the greatest Canadian rappers. He has become a successful actor, author and motivational speaker while remaining a prominent figure in Canadian hip hop.


Pierre Perrault

Pierre Perrault, OQ, film director, poet, writer (born 29 June 1927 in Montréal, QC; died 23 June 1999 in Montréal). Pierre Perrault was one of Quebec’s most significant and celebrated artists. His collective work in radio, film, television and print explores the genesis and nature of French Canadian culture and identity. A pioneer of direct cinema, his elegiac 1963 documentary Pour la suite du monde, co-directed with Michel Brault, is a landmark in Canadian cinema. His writing received three Governor General’s Literary Awards: for poetry, theatre and non-fiction. An Officer of the Ordre national du Québec, Perrault received the Prix Ludger-Duvernay, Prix Albert-Tessier, Prix Victor-Barbeau, the Médaille des Arts et des Lettres from the Government of France, and the Médaille d’argent du Mouvement national des Québécois et Québécoises.


Paul Haggis

Paul Edward Haggis, writer, director, producer (born 10 Mar 1953 in London, Ontario). Within Canada, Paul Haggis may be best known as the creator of the popular TV series Due South, which earned him six Gemini Awards including two for Best Dramatic Series. Internationally, he is renowned for a number of film achievements. He made history in 2006 as the first screenwriter of back-to-back Best Picture Oscar winners — Million Dollar Baby (2004) and Crash (2005). He also won Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscars for the latter and helped rejuvenate the James Bond franchise with his screenplays for Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). More recently, his reputation has been marred by four allegations of sexual assault: in January 2018, he began defending himself in a civil suit against those allegations.


Joni Mitchell's Secret

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on April 21, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

It is all there, encoded in the song. A true story of secrets and lies. The child "born with the moon in Cancer" is the baby that Joni Mitchell gave up for adoption.