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Whoa, Canada! 150 Entertaining Canadians


As our country celebrates its sesquicentennial, here are 150 reasons for national pride: Coo loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo!

Some say “about,” others say “aboot.”

It’s the ultimate Canadian casting list. Some are Hollywood stars; others work mainly at home. Some say “about,” others say “aboot.” All hail from The Great White North — and would feel at home in a reboot of Strange Brew.

The Mounties

Canadian actors who are (or have been) considered leading men in Hollywood...

Ryan Reynolds, Vancouver, B.C.
Reynolds’ father was a Mountie, and so is one of his brothers.

Ryan Gosling, Cornwall, Ont.
(La La Land)

Hayden Christensen, Vancouver, B.C.
(Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones)
After the success of Star Wars, Christensen moved to Uxbridge, Ont., and became a part-time farmer.

Taylor Kitsch, Kelowna, B.C.
(Friday Night Lights)

Keanu Reeves, Toronto, Ont. [born in Lebanon]
(The Matrix)
Reeves’ first movie role was as a Québécois goalie in Youngblood.

Matthew Perry, Ottawa, Ont. [born in the U.S.]
Perry’s mother was press secretary to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

Donald Sutherland, Saint John, N.B.

Kiefer Sutherland, Toronto, Ont. [born in England]
Sutherland’s grandfather, on his mother’s side, was former Saskatchewan premier Tommy Douglas — the father of Canada’s universal health care.

Michael J. Fox, Edmonton, Alta.
(Back to the Future)

The Mary Pickfords

Actresses who have followed in the footsteps of Mary Pickford, Hollywood pioneer and the first Canadian to win an Oscar...

Rachel McAdams, St. Thomas, Ont.

Anna Paquin, Winnipeg, Man.
(The Piano)
In 2017, Paquin will star in Sarah Polley’s TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace.

Margot Kidder, Yellowknife, N.W.T.
Kidder dated Pierre Trudeau during his final months in office — and the outspoken peace activist was said to have influenced the prime minister’s politics.

Tatiana Maslany, Regina, Sask.
(Orphan Black)
Maslany became the first Canadian — working on a Canadian show — to win an Emmy Award in a major acting category.

Neve Campbell, Guelph, Ont.

Meg Tilly, Texada Island, B.C. [born in California]
(Agnes of God)
Escaped Hollywood in the ’90s to live in a log cabin outside of Vancouver, with British actor Colin Firth.

Carrie-Anne Moss, Burnaby, B.C.
(The Matrix)

Ellen Page, Halifax, N.S.
Page started acting at age 10 in a TV movie, Pit Pony, about the lives of coal miners on Cape Breton Island.

The Hosers

Actors and filmmakers who embrace and celebrate stereotypical Canadian-ness...

Rick Moranis, Toronto, Ont.
(Strange Brew)
Moranis (and Dave Thomas) created Canada’s most recognizable characters, the beer-swilling, hockey-loving, touque-wearing hoser brothers Bob and Doug McKenzie.

Dave Thomas, St. Catharines, Ont.
(Strange Brew)
Thomas also directed Strange Brew, which was the highest-grossing film in Canada in 1983.

Mike Myers, Toronto, Ont.
(Wayne’s World)

The Titanics

Canadian directors who make big-budget films, and win awards, outside of Canada...

James Cameron, Kapuskasing, Ont.
(The Terminator, Titanic, Avatar)

Norman Jewison, Toronto, Ont.
(In the Heat of the Night)
Jewison was an assistant director when the CBC first went to air in 1952.

Ivan Reitman, Toronto, Ont. [born in what is now Slovakia]

Jason Reitman, Montreal, Que.

Paul Haggis, London, Ont.
Haggis created the classic Canadian Mountie series Due South.

Denis Villeneuve, Trois-Rivières, Que.
Villeneuve directed Polytechnique, about the 1989 Montreal Massacre.

Jean-Marc Vallée, Montreal, Que.
(Dallas Buyers Club)

Xavier Dolan, Montreal, Que.
(It’s Only the End of the World)
Cannes favourite Dolan is making his first English-language film, The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, with Hollywood A-listers Natalie Portman, Susan Sarandon, and Jessica Chastain.

The Crazy Canucks

Canadian comedic actors known for their wild and wacky humour...

Jim Carrey, Newmarket, Ont.
(The Cable Guy)

Seth Rogen, Vancouver, B.C.
(Knocked Up)

Dan Aykroyd, Ottawa, Ont.
(The Blues Brothers)
Aykroyd’s father was a policy advisor to Pierre Trudeau.

Eugene Levy, Hamilton, Ont.

Catherine O’Hara, Toronto, Ont.

Tom Green, Pembroke, Ont.
(The Tom Green Show)

Norm Macdonald, Quebec City, Que.
(Saturday Night Live)

Joe Flaherty, Toronto, Ont. [born in Pittsburgh]
Most SCTV cast members moved from Canada to U.S., but Flaherty did the opposite — settling in Toronto and teaching comedy at Humber College.

Will Arnett, Toronto, Ont.
(Arrested Development)
Arnett’s father was once president and CEO of Molson Breweries.

Martin Short, Hamilton, Ont.
(Saturday Night Live)

Michael Cera, Brampton, Ont.
Cera’s first onscreen appearance was in a Tim Hortons summer camp commercial.

Samantha Bee, Toronto, Ont.
(Full Frontal with Samantha Bee)

Tommy Chong, Edmonton, Alta.
(Up in Smoke)

Andrea Martin, Toronto, Ont. [born in Portland, Maine]
Martin moved to Toronto in 1970 and joined the cast of SCTV in 1976.

Rich Little, Ottawa, Ont.
(The Judy Garland Show)
The Man of a Thousand Voices got his start impersonating former prime minister John Diefenbaker.

Nia Vardalos, Winnipeg, Man.
(My Big Fat Greek Wedding)
The native Winnipegger cast her extended family as extras in 2003's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She's been based in Los Angeles since 1996.

The Stompin’ Toms

Artists known for making distinctly Canadian projects...

Rick Mercer, St. John’s, N.L.
(The Rick Mercer Report)
Mercer is famous for ranting to Canadians about Canada — starting with his one-man act, Show Me the Button, I’ll Push It (1991), about the Meech Lake Accord.

Mary Walsh, St. John’s, N.L.
(This Hour Has 22 Minutes)
Walsh’s Marg Delahunty character is a national institution, known for dressing up in a parody of  the title character of Xena: Warrior Princess and ambushing Canadian politicians.

Megan Follows, Toronto, Ont.
(Anne of Green Gables)

Ken Finkleman, Winnipeg, Man.
(CBC’s The Newsroom)

Paul Gross, Calgary Alta.
(Due South)
Gross made curling sexy when he wrote, directed, and starred in Men with Brooms (2002).

Don McKellar, Toronto, Ont.
(Sensitive Skin)

John Paul Tremblay, Halifax, N.S.
(Trailer Park Boys)

Robb Wells, Moncton, N.B.
(Trailer Park Boys)
Wells is a distant cousin of former prime minister Stephen Harper.

Mike Smith, New Glasgow, N.S.
(Trailer Park Boys)

Gordon Pinsent, Grand Falls, N.L.
(Away from Her)

Steve Smith, Toronto, Ont.
(The Red Green Show)

Patrick McKenna, Hamilton, Ont.
(The Red Green Show)
McKenna is the only actor to win Gemini Awards in comedy (The Red Green Show) and drama (Traders) in the same year.

Sarah Polley, Toronto, Ont.
(Away from Her)
The actor turned director was dubbed “Canada’s sweetheart” for her role as matchmaker Sara Stanley in Road to Avonlea.

Brent Butt, Tisdale, Sask.
(Corner Gas)
For Saskatchewan’s centennial, Butt hosted a gala and performed his song “Nothing Rhymes with Saskatchewan” for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Shirley Douglas, Weyburn, Sask.
(Wind at My Back)

Robert Lepage, Quebec City, Que.
(Jesus of Montreal)
To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, Lepage created The Image Mill, the world’s largest outdoor projection show.

Bruce McDonald, Toronto, Ont.
(Hard Core Logo)

The High Stickers

Actors and filmmakers who have been ambassadors for Canada’s national winter sport...

Joshua Jackson, Vancouver, B.C.
(The Affair
This Vancouver Canucks superfan drew a new generation of kids to hockey when he starred in The Mighty Ducks.

Jessica Paré, Montreal, Que.
(Mad Men)
Paré’s breakout role was as a hockey player turned international model in the mockumentary Stardom.

Jason Priestley, Vancouver, B.C.
(Beverly Hills 90210)
Priestley’s 90210 character, Brandon Walsh, was a recreational hockey player; and he portrays a former NHL pro in his latest series, Private Eyes.

Jay Baruchel, Ottawa, Ont.
While he’s part of the Judd Apatow crowd in Hollywood, Baruchel is known in Canada as the writer/star of Goon and Goon 2 (Last of the Enforcers).

Alison Pill, Toronto, Ont.
(HBO’s The Newsroom)
Pill plays a “puck bunny” in Goon and Goon 2.

Elisha Cuthbert, Calgary, Alta.
Stars in Goon 2 — and is married to Ottawa Senators defenceman Dion Phaneuf.

The Degrassians  

Actors who got their start at Canada’s best-known high school...

Pat Mastroianni, Toronto, Ont.
(“Joey Jeremiah”)

Stefan Brogren, Toronto, Ont.
In a 1992 Degrassi High special, Brogren was the first person to use the F-word on Canadian prime-time television.

Stacie Mistysyn, Toronto, Ont. [born in Los Angeles]
(“Caitlin Ryan”)

Amanda Stepto, Montreal, Que.

Aubrey Drake Graham, Toronto, Ont.
(Degrassi: The Next Generation, “Jimmy Brooks”)
Actor turned rapper Drake makes the odd lyrical nod to his Degrassi days: “They like, ‘Damn, who’s Drake? / Where’s Wheelchair Jimmy at?’ ”

Shenae Grimes, Toronto, Ont.
(Degrassi: TNG, 90210)
Grimes played a teenage Shania Twain in the CBC biopic Shania: A Life in Eight Albums.

Nina Dobrev, Toronto, Ont. [born in Bulgaria]
(Degrassi: TNG, The Vampire Diaries)

Dan Levy, Toronto, Ont.
(Schitt’s Creek)
The son of Eugene made his acting debut in the TV movie Paradise City: Degrassi Goes Hollywood

Alanis Morissette, Ottawa, Ont.
Morissette made a cameo on Degrassi: TNG as the school’s hoser principal, wearing a lumberjack coat, Maple Leafs jersey, and full-fur hat.

The Snowbirds

Canadian actors who have been known to travel south for the winter/television season...

Evangeline Lilly, Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.
It took Lilly 20 attempts to get the U.S. visa she needed to work on Lost.

Sarah Chalke, Ottawa, Ont.

Emily VanCamp, Port Perry, Ont.

Cobie Smulders, Vancouver, B.C.
(How I Met Your Mother)
Smulders’ character on HIMYM kept her Canadian nationality secret until it came out that she was an Alanis-esque pop star, Robin Sparkles, who reinvented herself as grunge singer Robin Daggers.  

Jill Hennessy, Edmonton, Alta.
(Law & Order)
Before Hennessy moved to New York to become an actress, she was an unlicensed busker in Toronto subway stations.

Eric McCormack, Toronto, Ont.
(Will & Grace)
McCormack was a fan of the Canadian children’s show Mr. Dressup, and named his son Finnigan after one of the puppets.

Tom Cavanagh, Ottawa, Ont.
Cavanagh performed Britney Spears’ “… Baby One More Time” in French with a Quebec accent on Ellen.

Nathan Fillion, Edmonton, Alta.

Pablo Schreiber, Ymir, B.C.
(Orange Is the New Black)

The Front Page Challengers

Canadians who are famous for being game show hosts...

Howie Mandel, Toronto, Ont.
(Deal or No Deal)

Monty Hall, Winnipeg, Man.
(Let’s Make a Deal)

Alex Trebek, Sudbury, Ont.
From 1966 to 1970, Trebek was a curling announcer for the CBC.

Julie Snyder, Greenfield Park, Que.
(Le Banquier, Quebec adaptation of Deal or No Deal)
Snyder is a close friend of Céline Dion and was married to Pierre Karl Péladeau, a former leader of the Parti Québécois.

The Group of 7

Canada’s highly respected art-house directors...

Atom Egoyan, Victoria, B.C. [born in Egypt]
(The Sweet Hereafter)

David Cronenberg, Toronto, Ont.

Guy Maddin, Winnipeg, Man.
(The Saddest Music in the World)
Maddin’s film My Winnipeg is a “metafictional documentary” about the city’s history, rumours, and myths.  

Patricia Rozema, Kingston, Ont.
(I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing

Deepa Mehta, Toronto, Ont. [born in India]
(Beeba Boys)

Denys Arcand, Deschambault, Que.
(The Barbarian Invasions)
Of the seven Canadian films to be nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar, Arcand directed three of them.

Clement Virgo, Toronto, Ont. [born in Jamaica]
(The Book of Negroes)

The Barenaked Ladies

Canadian artists who are known for more risqué roles...

Kim Cattrall, Courtenay, B.C. [born in England]
(Sex and the City, Sensitive Skin)
Cattrall once dated Pierre Trudeau — and on 60 Minutes a photo of her was mistakenly said to show Justin Trudeau’s mother.

Pamela Anderson, Ladysmith, B.C.
Anderson was Canada’s Centennial baby — the first child born on July 1, 1967.

Natasha Henstridge, Fort McMurray, Alta.

Emmanuelle Chriqui, Montreal, Que.

Jennifer Tilly, Texada Island, B.C. [born in Los Angeles]

Malin Åkerman, St. Catharines, Ont. [born in Sweden]

Lisa Ray, Toronto, Ont.

Shannon Tweed, St. John’s, N.L.
(Falcon Crest)
Crowned Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1982, Tweed is best known as Gene Simmons’ longtime partner.

The Kids in the Hall

Members of the Toronto sketch comedy troupe who were “discovered” by Lorne Michaels...

Kevin McDonald, Montreal, Que.
(That ’70s Show)

Mark McKinney, Ottawa, Ont.
(Saturday Night Live)

Scott Thompson, North Bay, Ont.
(The Larry Sanders Show)
Thompson was the first host of the Canadian reality show My Fabulous Gay Wedding.

Dave Foley, Etobicoke, Ont.

Bruce McCulloch, Edmonton, Alta.
(Brain Candy)

The Thespians

Versatile actors known for their work at the Stratford Festival Theatre in Ontario...

Martha Burns, Winnipeg, Man. [born in Chicago]
(Slings and Arrows)

Colm Feore, Windsor, Ont. [born in Boston]
When Feore was given the Order of Canada, he was praised for “bridging anglophone and francophone cultures as a fluently bilingual performer.”

Martha Henry, Toronto, Ont. [born in Detroit]
(Long Day’s Journey into Night)

R.H. Thomson, Richmond Hill, Ont.
(Road to Avonlea)
Thomson has played many Canadian icons, including Glenn Gould, Dr. Frederick Banting, and Charlie Grant, a diamond merchant who rescued Austrian Jews from the Nazis.

William Shatner, Montreal, Que.
(Star Trek)
In 1956, Shatner received the Most Promising Actor Award at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

Christopher Plummer, Toronto, Ont.
(The Sound of Music)
Plummer is the great-grandson of Canada’s third prime minister, Sir John Abbott.

The Timbits

Canadian child actors with promising careers ahead of them...

Finn Wolfhard, Vancouver, B.C.
(Stranger Things)

Dalila Bela, Montreal, Que.
(Once Upon a Time)

John Paul Ruttan, Toronto, Ont.
(RoboCop 2014)
Ruttan played a young Jack Layton (former leader of the federal NDP) in a 2008 episode of The Rick Mercer Report.

Jacob Tremblay, Vancouver, B.C.

The Busy Beavers

Character actors who work on both sides of the border — on the big and small screen...

Sandra Oh, Nepean, Ont.
(Grey’s Anatomy)
Oh’s first roles were playing Vancouver author Evelyn Lau and Canadian broadcaster/future governor-general Adrienne Clarkson.

Molly Parker, Maple Ridge, B.C.
Parker’s breakout role was as a necrophiliac in the controversial Canadian indie Kissed; it earned her a Genie Award for Best Actress.

Victor Garber, London, Ont.
His Canadian folk group, the Sugar Shoppe, performed on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the 1960s.

Katheryn Winnick, Etobicoke, Ont.

Callum Keith Rennie, Edmonton, Alta. [born in England]
(Due South)

Bruce Greenwood, Rouyn-Noranda, Que.
(Thirteen Days)

Luke Kirby, Hamilton, Ont.
(Mambo Italiano)

Graham Greene, Ohsweken, Ont.
(Dances with Wolves)
Greene portrayed famous Canadian Sioux leader Sitting Bull in a Heritage Minutes commercial.

Adam Beach, Ashern, Man.
(Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)

Missy Peregrym, Montreal, Que.
(Rookie Blue)

Barry Pepper, Campbell River, B.C.
(Saving Private Ryan)
The self-professed “B.C. hippie gentleman farmer” skipped the 2011 Emmys (where he won for The Kennedys) to go hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

Shawn Ashmore, Richmond, B.C.
Ashmore played his dream role when he was cast as Terry Fox in the 2005 CTV movie Terry.

Marie-Josée Croze, Montreal, Que.
(The Barbarian Invasions)

Polly Shannon, Kingston, Ont.
(Men with Brooms)
Shannon played Margaret Trudeau in the 2002 CBC miniseries Trudeau.

The Maple Leafs Forever

Canadian artists who are no longer with us, but whose performances live on...

Mary Pickford, Toronto, Ont.
“America’s Sweetheart” successfully applied to reclaim her Canadian citizenship, stating that she “wished to die as a Canadian.”

Jackie Burroughs, Toronto, Ont. [born in England]
(Road to Avonlea)
Burroughs once stormed into a journalist’s office when he dismissed one of her plays at Stratford — berating him for not supporting Canadian productions.

John Candy, Newmarket, Ont.
(Planes, Trains, and Automobiles)
In Canadian Bacon, Candy played a U.S. sheriff who starts a riot over the beer being served at a hockey game.

Phil Hartman, Brantford, Ont.
(Saturday Night Live)

Alan Thicke, Kirkland Lake, Ont.
(Growing Pains)
Thicke was the emcee at Wayne Gretzky’s wedding.

Cory Monteith, Calgary, Alta.

Corey Haim, Toronto, Ont.

Maury Chaykin, Toronto, Ont. [born in New York]
(Whale Music)

Leslie Nielsen, Regina, Sask.
Nielsen trained as an aerial gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, but wasn’t sent overseas.

Allan Dwan, Toronto, Ont.
(Sands of Iwo Jima)

Hume Cronyn, London, Ont.
Cronyn’s mother was an heiress of the Labatt brewing company.

James Doohan, Vancouver, B.C.
(Star Trek)
Doohan was an officer in the Royal Canadian Artillery and landed at Juno Beach on D-Day.  

Dave Broadfoot, North Vancouver, B.C.
(Royal Canadian Air Farce)

Frank Shuster and Johnny Wayne, Toronto, Ont.
(Wayne and Shuster)

William Hutt, Toronto, Ont.
(Long Day’s Journey into Night)
Hutt portrayed John A. Macdonald as a hard-drinking prime minister in the 1974 CBC miniseries The National Dream.

Lorne Greene, Ottawa, Ont.
When he was a radio broadcaster during the Second World War, the CBC nicknamed Greene “The Voice of Canada.”

Raymond Burr, New Westminster, B.C.
(Perry Mason)

Shanda Deziel is a Toronto-based freelance journalist.