July 2nd, 2010
by Ethan

In honour of Canada's day (Canada's National Holiday) here's a new blog on the many different parts of Canada. Last time we looked at population, weather and food, so what else is there to talk about. Well, lets start with people. Canada has quite a few famous people, or at least famous in Canada (and one only famous in China), so who are they, here's four.

Terry Fox

Terry Fox on his "Marathon of Hope"

Probably Canada's most famous person is a man by the name of Terry Fox. Terry Fox is not known outside of Canada but within Canada he became a hero for never giving up, even in the face of death. Terry Fox was diagnosed with cancer in 1977, it was located around his knee and his leg would later be amputated. The doctors told him he had a 50% chance of living even with treatment. He went through intensive chemotherapy and physical therapy and was stunned how little cancer research was going on in Canada at the time. In order to raise money for cancer research, Terry decided to run across Canada. He was fitted with an artificial leg and started his run by dipping his leg into the Ocean in St. John's Newfoundland. After 143 days and 5,373 kilometres Terry Fox was told by doctors that his cancer has come back and spread to his lungs, he died on June 28, 1981 unable to finish his run. However his run led to over $23 million in donations and the development of an entirely new Cancer research center in British Columbia.

The start of a Terry Fox run

Every year on the anniversary of his death communities and schools across Canada take part in their own Terry Fox run, they recieve donations from friends and family members which are given to help Cancer research in Canada. Since his death over $500 Million has been raised for Cancer research in Terry Fox's name and Canada has helped create many advances in Cancer research. Terry Fox is probably one of the most well loved and well respected Canadians who has ever lived, he was an ordinary person who did the extraordinary.

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky holding the Stanely Cup

Wayne Gretzky was without a doubt the greatest hockey player to ever live. He broke multiple records and inspired untold numbers of people to get involved with the game, more importantly, he was an genuinely nice person. What Michael Jordan was to the NBA, Wayne Gretzky was to the NHL (National Hockey League).
I realize ice hockey is not so popular in China, so first I should mention that Canada is obsessed with hockey. On the Canadian National TV Channel (CBC), every Saturday night during Hockey season is Hockey Night in Canada and hockey is all that is shown. Our most well loved restaurant is called Tim Horton's, Tim Horton was a also a hockey player. So you can understand that a great hockey player in Canada would be like a great Ping Pong player in China, or like Yao Ming.
Wayne Gretzky was born in Brantford, Ontario and played ice hockey far better than all his peers from an early age. He was not strong, fast or big but he was able to understand the game of hockey, far better than most others. He seemed to always know where the puck (Ice Hockey does not use a ball, it's a flat puck) was heading and be there to stop it or use it.

Wayne Gretzky with Team Canada

During his time in the NHL, Wayne led the Edmonton Oilers (Hockey Team) to four Championships, the Los Angeles Lakers to one and led Canada to three World Cup championships. He was also awarded over 30 different trophies for a variety of skills throughout his NHL career. In the NHL, if a player is particular amazing his home team will often retire his jersey, this means that no other player on that team can ever use the same number as them in the future. Wayne Gretzky is the only player to have every team in the entire NHL retire his jersey together, meaning no other player may use the number 99 which Wayne Gretzky used throughout his career.

Sir John A. McDonald

Old big nose himself.

It wouldn't be right to not include Canada's first Prime Minister I guess. He was part of the founding of Canada and was in power during the creation of the Transcontinental railroad. This railroad joined Eastern and Western Canada as never before. He was forced to resign from his first appointment as Prime Minister, when allegations of bribery during the building of the railroad surfaced. He later won the vote and became Prime Minister a second time, however the NorthWest rebellion and the hanging of Louis Riel angered the french voters and he again lost power. Not one to give up easily, he won the vote yet again in 1891, however he died in office three months later.
He is Canada's second longest serving Prime Minister with 19 years in office and was also a very well known alcoholic which later led to his death.

Louis Riel

A portrait of Louis RielAs we gave John some time lets also give the man he killed, Louis Riel, the spotlight. Louis Riel was a Metis (half white, half Native American) Canadian who is viewed in Canada by some as a folk hero and others as a traitor. Born near modern day Winnipeg, Manitoba, Louis Riel grew up in the West of Canada before it officially became a province. He grew up among the Metis in the Red River area and was fiercly proud of their heritage.
As Canada was trying to secure it's land to the West, many White Canadians were moving West and were not viewed kindly by the natives already there, including the Metis. Many Metis worried this influx of settlers would destroy their culture and way of life. Riel became a leader of this group due to his impassioned speechs and ability to convince others around him to join in. The Metis took control of the Red River area and brought in their own government, this led to the Canadian government sending diplomats to try and negotiate. During this time there was a small group of White Canadians, led by a man named Thomas Scott, who continually tried to fight against the Metis. The metis defeated them easily and after a great many problems with Scott, they sentenced him to execution and killed him. Afterwards, the Metis were able to negotiate entrance into Canada for their province, called Manitoba, but they were not able to negotiate amnesty for Riel. The Canadian government sent men to hang Riel for the murder and Riel in return fled to the USA.

Statue of Louis Riel in Winnipeg Manitoba

Later Riel would return to Canada to try and convince the Canadian government to listen to the Metis in Saskatchewan's requests for help. The government refused their requests and instead just reinforced their military in the area. The Metis were very upset and started what would be known as the North West Rebellion. Unfortunately for the Metis Canada's cross country railroad was almost finished by this time, so the Canadian soldiers arrived in record time. The rebellion was a terrible failure and Riel was arrested and tried for treason. On April 18th, 1885 Louis Riel was hung for his crimes.
Since his death many have came to view Riel as a martyr for Native rights in Canada, the province of Manitoba has declared that every third Monday of February will be Louis Riel day.

Read Canada 101 here!