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Famous Ontarians

Like most places, Ontario has had it's share of famous citizens. Below are just a few...

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 Frederick Grant BANTING Co-discovered Insulin and its effect on those afflicted with Diabetes
1891-1941 York & Middlesex Counties
Born 14 Nov 1891 in Alliston, Ontario to William Thompson Banting and Margaret Grant. Frederick Banting was educated at the University of Toronto and served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War One. In 1918 he was wounded and in 1919 he was awarded the Military Cross for heroism under fire. After the War he practised medicine in London, Ontario and by 1922 was back at the University of Toronto where he, John Macleod and Charles Best discovered insulin.
      In 1923, Banting, along with Macleod were presented with the Nobel Prize (Banting shared his half with Best) and the University of Toronto established the Banting-Best Department of Medical Research. Also in 1923 he was granted a Life Annuity by the Canadian Parliament and in 1924 was knighted.
      In 1924 Banting married Marion Robertson and their only child, William, was born in 1928. Banting and Robertson divorced in 1932 and Banting married Henrietta Ball in 1937. While serving as a liaison officer between North American and British medical services during World War Two, Banting was killed in a airplane crash in Newfoundland in February 1941.
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 Alexander Graham BELL Inventor of the Telephone
Brant County
Born 3 Mar 1847 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Alexander Bell came to Brantford, Brant County, Ontario in 1870 with his parents. There he and his father worked as speech therapists for the deaf. It was from this work that Alexander Bell gained enough experience to lead to his invention of the telephone between 1874 and 1876. He married Mabel Gardiner Hubbard and died 2 Aug 1922 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia
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 Marilyn BELL Swimmer - first to swim across Lake Ontario and other large bodies of water
York County
Born 19 Nov 1937 in Toronto, Ontario. In Sept 1954, she was the first person to swim the 52k in Lake Ontario from Youngstown, New York to Toronto, Ontario. She was also the youngest to swim both the English Channel and the Strait of Juan de Fuca
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 Mina BENSON HUBBARD The Woman Who Mapped Labrador
1870-1956 Northumberland County, Hamilton Township
Mina Benson Hubbard (1870-1956)
  • Author of "A Woman's Way Through Labrador"
  • Mina's maps of the Naskaupi and George River in Labrador were accepted by the American Geographical Society and the Geographical Society of Great Britain.
  • profiled by Pierre Berton for "My Country" TV program in 1974
  • Pierre Berton's "Wild Fontier" contains a chapter on Mina
  • Mina's history is studied at Memorial University Centre for Newfoundland Studies.
  • There are many articles contained in the archives at Memorial University, portraying Mina's life
  • Mina's husband Leonidis Hubbard failed in his attempt to complete this journey in 1903. He died along the way. His travelling companion Dillon Wallace vowed to complete the trip but profiled Leonidis as the reason for the first missions failure in his book "Lure of the Labrador Wild" This angered Mina and she vowed to beat Dillon Wallace at his own game.....and she did! Leaving North West River a day apart, Mina arrived at The Hudson Bay Company Post on the George River in Ungava Bay 6 weeks before Dillon Wallace. She had won the race and redeemed her husband's honour!
    Posted: 25-Jun-06 by Barbara Benson   barbarabenson52@hotmail.com



  •  Joseph 'Thayendanegea' BRANT Influential in bridging the thinking and cultures of the British in America and the Six Nations Indians
    1742-1807 Brant County
    Born in Ohio, Joseph Brant came to Ontario at the age of eight when his parents returned to their native Mohawk Valley. Part of the Six Nations Indians (comprised of the Mohawks, Onondagas, Senecas, Oneidas and Cayugas; the Tuscarroras of Carolina joined later) who lived "in the area between the Hudson River on the east and Niagara River on the west. The Mohawks were living at the east, along the Hudson, and the Senecas at the west, along the Niagara."
          Joseph Brant was married three times. First to Christina, daughter of an Oneida chief, with whom he had two children. After Christina's death due to tuberculosis, he married her sister Susannah who also died of tuberculosis soon after. His third marriage was about 1783 to Catherine Croghan.
          Known as Chief Joseph Brant of the Mohawk Tribe, he died in 1807 and was buried "at his Wellington Square home at Burlington" but his remains were later moved to Mohawk Chapel in Brantford in 1850
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     Sir Isaac BROCK Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
    1769-1812 Upper Canada
    Sir Isaac Brock's military genius during the War of 1812 helped to keep Upper Canada under British rule
          Born 6 Oct 1769 on the Island of Guernsey of the Channel Islands, the eighth son of John Brock & Elizabeth de Lisle, Isaac Brock was sent to Canada in 1803 as commander of the 49th Regiment. In 1805 he was made a Colonel and had command of York and Fort George. In 1809 Sir George Prevost, Governor-General of Canada, appointed Isaac Brock Lieutenant-Governor of Canada. Sir Isaac Brock lost his life defending Canada on 13 Oct 1812 at the Battle of Queenston Heights
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     Sir William CAMPBELL Chief Justice of Upper Canada 1825-1829
    1758-1834 York County
    William Campbell (1758-1834) was born in Caithness, Scotland. He joined a Highland Regiment and, while serving in America, was captured at Yorktown in 1781. In 1784 he settled at Guysboro, NS, along with other Loyalists. He studied law under Thomas Cutler and, in 1804 was appointed Attorney-General of Cape Breton, then a separate province. In 1811 he secured a judgeship in Upper Canada and took up residence in York. In 1825 he was appointed Chief Justice and also Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. He retired from the bench in 1829 because of ill health and was honoured with a knighthood, apparently the first judge from Upper Canada to receive this distinction. The neo-classic brick house which he built on Duke Street in 1822 was moved in the 1950's to its present site next to Osgoode Hall Law School by the Advocates' Society. Both buildings have been restored.
    Posted: by Linda Sherlock   linda_sherlock@bc.sympatico.ca



     James Bertram COLLIP co-develped insulin, biochemist, pioneer of medical research in canada
    1892-1965 Algoma District
    James Bertram Collip (1892-1965)
  • The young bio-chemist that aided in the purification of insulin 1921-1922, shared the 1923 Nobel Prize with MacLeod (and Banting & Best).
  • University of Alberta, 1915-1928, Dept of Physiology and biochemistry, head of dept as of 1919.
  • McGill University 1928-19, Head of biochemistry dept.
  • University of Western Ontario, 1947-1961, Dean of Medicine. Head of the Dept of Medical research, until death in 1965.
  • see Alison Li's book: J.B. Collip and Medical Research in Canada.
    Posted: 29-Aug-07 by Corinne Montgomery   corinnemontgomery@hotmail.com



  •  Major William Henry DANIEL Recipient of the Canadian General Service Medal
    Bruce County
    The outbreak of the Civil War in the United States in 1861 brought strained relations between that country and Britain and the possibility of war led to the formation of military units. Several towns raised a militia company, but the only rural township to do so was Kincardine, and Captain William Daniel was authorized to form this on February 6, 1863. Captain William Daniel left an indelible mark on Bruce County history. With his strong military background he advocated militia training.
          A frame shed was built on the Daniel farm as an armoury. This building still stands and the interior shows signs of its original purpose. The shed is lathed and plastered and around the walls are rifle racks and hand-forged steel hooks for equipment. Above each are stencilled numbers up to 54. Not so discernible are the names Jim Burns, John Innis, George Cayley, John Brown and McGilvray.
          Captain Daniel drilled his company in the pasture field in front of his home. In the evening the settlers would shed their rough home-spun clothing and don their military red coats.
          Inspection reports of that time attested to the proficiency of C company under William Daniel who was then promoted to Major. When the Fenians invaded Canada on June 1, 1866, the Kincardine Township company was one of four mustered to proceed to Goderich where a Fenian landing was expected. They were there for four peaceful weeks, then returned to their homes.
          Major William Daniel was awarded the Canadian General Service Medal
    Posted: by Lynda Porter   lyndap@interlog.com



     William "Tiger" DUNLOP Blazed the Huron Trail, founded town of Goderich and was second MPP for Huron Co after his brother Robert Graham
    1792-1848 Huron County
    Born 1792 Greenok, Scotland. Came to Canada in 1813 with the 89th British Foot as an assistant surgeon. Worked as surgeon during War of 1812. Went to England after the war but returned to Canada and worked for/with Galt's Canada Company. He also fought for "rights" of immigrants to Ontario.
    Posted: by Donna Di Lello (Dunlop)   dilello@idirect.com



     John GALT Superintendent of the Canada Company
    Wellington County
    John Galt founded the city of Guelph in 1827 at the "junction of the Speed & Eramosa Rivers"
    Posted: by  



     Francis GORE Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada
    Upper Canada
    Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, 1806-1817 (absent 1811-1814 - Sir Isaac Brock served in his place during this time)
    Posted: by  



      GREY OWL Author and Conservationist
    Nipissing District
    Also known as Wa-Sha-Quon-Asin (He-Who-Flies-By-Night), Grey Owl was born 18 Sep 1888 as Archibald Stansfeld Belany in Hastings, England. He came to Canada at the age of 17 already fascinated by tales of North American Indians and introduced himself as Grey Owl, son of a Scot and an Apache. He soon found himself relating to the Ojibway Indians in the Temagami area, Nipissing District which lead him to adopt their way of life and dress. Grey Owl was a writer and published his first book, The Men of the Last Frontier, in 1931. His Iroquios wife, Anahareo, convinced him that conservation of nature was important and soon he devoted his writing to this topic. It was only after his death on 13 April 1938 (in Prince Albert, Sasktachewan) that his English heritage was uncovered. In 1998 a movie was made of his life starring Pierce Brosnan
    Posted: by  



     Lawren Stewart HARRIS Group of Seven Painter
    1885-1970 York County
    Lawren Stewart Harris (1885-1970)
  • Painted amazing landscape pictures.
  • Was heir to the Masey-Harris fortune
    Posted: 29-Aug-07 by Corinne Montgomery   corinnemontgomery@hotmail.com



  •  Josiah HENSON Founded a community for fugitive slaves
    Kent County
    Born a slave on 15 Jun 1789 in Charles County, Maryland, Josiah Henson escaped to Upper Canada in 1830. In 1834 he founded the Dawn community near Dresden as a place for American fugitive slaves and he also co-organized a manual-labour school called the British-American Institute where he was active on the executive committee until the Institute closed in 1868. He was the spiritual leader and patriach of the Dawn community and made fund-raising trips to England and the USA. He is most commonly known as the model for the main character in the book 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Josiah Henson died 5 May 1883 in Dresden, Ontario
    Posted: by  



     Adelaide Hunter HOODLESS Introduced the plan of a domestic science course in schools
    Brant County
    Adelaide Sophia Hunter was born on February 27, 1858 in Brant County, Canada West. At the age of 23 she moved to Brantford, Ontario along with her parents. She married John Hoodless of Hamilton, Adelaide moved into his house. With the death of her 18 month old son after drinking contaminated milk in 1889, Adelaide devoted her life to the well-being of families and to educating young women about the management of the household. She introduced the plan of a domestic science course in schools and pushed it to the provincial department of the Board of Education. The home economics program introduced young ladies to cooking, sewing, bookkeeping and accounting. Trying to teach the girls as much as she could, she wrote the book "Public Schools Domestic Science" which was used as a textbook for the home economics class. Through the encouragement of WI members, rural schools installed drinking fountains, sanitary basins and toilet equipment. By 1913, the WI convinced the Department of Education to create a provincial system of medical and dental inspection of all school children. Travelling libraries were organized, to enable all residents in the province to learn. In 1890 she assumed the presidency of the Hamilton Young Woman Christian Association (YWCA). After the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Hoodless realized that more organizations such as YWCA are needed for young women. She organized a National YWCA as well as the National Council of Women of Canada. Later in her life on she also helped organize the Victorian Order of Nurses. During her life Adelaide Hoodless gave many speeches in which she promoted the importance of home economics for young women and the importance of women's movement towards equality. She died suddenly, during one of those speeches in Toronto's St. Margaret's College on February 26, 1910. Her home is now an historic site. She has had a school and a rose named after her, and a stamp issued in her honour.
    Posted: by Joan Hunter   jhuntre@MNSi.net



     Pauline JOHNSON Poet
    1861-1913 Brant County
    Born Emily Pauline Johnson 10 Mar 1861 at Six Nations Indian Reserve near Brantford, Ontario to George Johnson (Mohawk Chief of Six Nations) and Emily Johnson. She was a native american princess who lectured and wrote poetry. She was born in Ontario during the 1800's and became famous for her poetry of everyday life. She died 7 Mar 1913 in Vancouver, BC and is the only person to have been buried in Stanley Park.
    Posted: by Shannon Johnson   kacy_1997@hotmail.com



     John Sandfield MACDONALD First Prime Minister of Ontario
    1812-1872 Glengarry County
    Born in St. Raphael, 1st elected to represent Glengarry in the Legislature in 1841. Solicitor-General in 184-1851, Speaker - 1852-1854 & Attorney General - 1858. He served as Prime Minister of the Province of Canada 1862-1864 & after Confederation, as the 1st Prime Minister of Ontario 16 July 1867 - 20 Dec 1871.
    Posted: by Sally Kirchman Stockstill   sally1@mcn.org



     Sir John A. MACDONALD First Prime Minister of Canada
    Lennox & Addington and Prince Edward Counties
    Born Jan 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland, John Alexander Macdonald was brought to Kingston, Ontario by his parents at the age of 5. He grew up in Lennox, Addington and Prince Edward Counties. He died 6 Jun 1891 in Ottawa, Ontario
    Posted: by  



     Sir William MACKENZIE Created the Canadian Northern Railway
    1849-1923 Victoria County
    Born in Kirkfield, Ontario, he built a transcontinental railway from Quebec to Vancouver he sponsered the world's first documentary film, he was the trusted advisor of three Canadian Prime Ministers, that's just to name a few of this man's accomplishments.
    Posted: by L.J.Johnson   lazarou_l_57@yahoo.ca



     Colonel Robert Samuel MCLAUGHLIN First president of General Motors Canada
    1871-1972 Durham County
    Born in Enniskillen, Ontario Sam McLaughlin is remembered for many reasons. He established McLaughlin Motor Car Company in Oshawa, Ontario in 1907. In 1918 he set up General Motors of Canada. He bred and raced thoroughbreds and was the man more responsible than any other in conveying a aura-a cache-of respectability to the sport of horseracing in this country. He was a philanthropist with the interest and resources necessary to endow institutions that enrich all of us the McLaughlin Planetarium, an adjunct of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, is perhaps, one of his most outstanding contributions. He built Parkwood. It was and is a landmark, a high point in a kind of life style which we may never see again.
    Posted: by Carol Lucky   lucky12@wave.home.com



     Elwood S. MOORE Prof U of T, Famous Geolgist . Author Canadian Textbooks & References, Royal Society of Canada 45/46
    1878-1966 Toronto
    Born in rural Heathcote Ontario became Professor of Geology at U of T, Built 18 Indian Grove for his wife Clara, where they resided throughout their marriage. Surveyor, Mapper, Author of Canadian School Texts, scientific reports, International geological research, Royal Society of Canada member and past president, Geological Society of America, National Geographic Society. Dr. Elwood S Moore passed away at age 87.
    Posted: August 16, 2006 by Karyn Klaire Koski   karynklaire@sympatico.ca



     Emily J. MURPHY (nee FERGUSON) Author; One of five women instrumental in Women getting the vote in Canada
    1868-1933 Simcoe County
    Born 14 Mar 1868 near Cookstown, Ont. She Married Rev. Arthur Murphy 24 Aug 1887 and moved to Alberta in 1904 after she, husband Arthur and three daughters (one of whom died) were stricken with typhoid fever. It was thought that a change in climate would help with recovery. She was decorated by his Majesty King George V as a Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1914. And was appointed in 1916 as the first woman Magistrate in the British Empire, Edmonton Alberta. She was one of five women (Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muire Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby) who fought the Canadian Supreme Court (case settled 1929 by the British Privy Council) to get women recognized as persons, and therefor able to hold public office, known as "The Persons Case" of 1929. She also authored many books and papers under the pen name of Janey Canuck and her own, Emily Murphy and Died 26 Oct 1933, in Vancouver, BC
    Posted: by Marian Skinner   billiebro@isat.com



     Farquhar OLIVER Head of the Ontario Liberal Political Party (1940s-1960s)
    1904-1989
    Farquhar Oliver began his political career in 1926 at the age of 22 when he was elected to the provincial legislature. He was re-elected 9 times and served twice as the leader of the opposition. When he left politics in 1967 he was dean of the house. During his tenure, and at his insistence, the Legislature passed a bill whereby free medical attention was granted to all old-age pensioners, all blind persons, and all recipients of Mother's Allowances, relief and federal aid. He also started the first Day Nurseries to take care of children whose mothers were engaged in war work. He also saw to a raise in the old age pension, Mourners at his funeral (Jan 1989) included the Ontario Premier, Ontario Treasurer, the Agriculture Minister, the former federal Finance Minister, and the Grey MPP. Premier David Peterson said Oliver left a lasting impression on all people.
    Posted: by Judith Oliver McGuire   jmcguire@lvnworth.com



     Dr. Marion POWELL "Mother" of Birth Control in Canada
    1923-1997 York County
    Born in Toronto, Ontario Dr. Powell was instrumental in setting up birth control information in Ontario, even when it was still technically illegal to do so. There was an excellent feature about her in the Presbyterian Record. She died 21 Dec 1997 in Caledon, Ontario. From the Canadian Medical Association (18 Aug 1998) - "The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is pleased to bestow a special posthumous award on Dr. Marion Powell, a physician widely recognized as the mother of birth control in Canada. Inspired by the consequences of unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions she witnessed as a teenager, Dr. Powell influenced a generation of health care professionals, defining sex education and birth control as humanitarian concerns in women's health."
    Posted: by Anne Gooch   agooch@mapleleafca.ca

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