Canadian pride swelled Sept. 22 as the country honoured some of its brightest by inducting them into Canada’s Walk of Fame, one of Canada’s most prestigious honours.
This year, nearly 30,000 voted online for their favourite Canadians—people exemplifying the best of achievement in the arts, sports, science and innovation. Past honourees include the likes of Bryan Adams, Margaret Atwood, Leslie Nielson, and Dr. Roberta Bondar.
Acknowledged by both their peers and the public alike, many of the inductees are not only household names but have also achieved international recognition in their respective fields.
In addition to the six inductees, a special award is also given to a young inspirational Canadian. This year’s recipient of the Allan Slaight Award was R&B singer Melanie Fiona, who also received a cheque for $10,000. Past winners include rapper Drake and singer Nikki Yanofsky.
The award winners were honoured in a special red carpet ceremony in front of the Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly the Canon Theatre) followed by the awards show, which will air Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. on Global and Slice.
For those wanting to see the Walk of Fame stars, they can be found in Toronto’s entertainment district on King Street and Simcoe Street, alongside Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre, and the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
To check if your favourite Canadian has made it to the Walk of Fame, or to nominate someone, visit the website at www.canadaswalkoffame.com. The application for 2013 is already available.
The following is a short description of the accomplishments of this year’s inductees.
Sarah McLachlan, best known for such songs as “I Will Remember You,” “Building A Mystery,” and “Angel,” has sold over 40 million records in the last two decades, winning eight Junos and three Grammy’s. She is also the creator of the all-women music festival Lilith Fair (1997-1999), which raised more than $7 million for charitable causes.
McLachlan was grateful to have been embraced by her home country in her career. “It’s times like this when it is so nice to stop and reflect and be reminded of the gifts that we’ve been given, and I’m so thankful for what music has given me in my life,” she said.
Team Canada 1972
Team Canada 1972 led Canada to one of the most-watched sports games in its history when the Canadian hockey team battled the Soviet team in an eight-game series that spanned both Canada and the USSR—games many Canadians still remember watching breathlessly. The tight matches eventually culminated in a victory for Canada, and the team was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.
Left winger Paul Henderson and right winger Rodrigue Gilbert expressed the team’s gratefulness for being part of the game and for representing Canada. “It was one of the greatest thrills of our lives to represent Canada, especially at hockey,” Henderson said.
Musician Randy Bachman has been hailed as one of the iconic rock musicians of our time, selling 40 million records and garnering over 120 gold and platinum album/singles awards.
Charting many hits with his band The Guess Who, he also had many successes with his band Bachman-Turner Overdrive and later as a solo singer. Many will recognize the hits “These Eyes” and “American Woman” from The Guess Who, and “Taking Care of Business” from BTO.
Bachman, who has already been inducted in Canada’s Walk of Fame as part of The Guess Who, was touched once again by this latest honour. “As a child I was fortunate enough to have the dream that I was destined to play music for the rest of my life,” he said. “Many people have shared that dream with me to continue to help keep it going, so please don’t wake me up. Great dream.”
Principal dancer Sonia Rodriguez joined the National Ballet in 1990 and went on to an illustrious career in lead principal roles in “Swan Lake,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and many others.
Former prima ballerina Veronica Tennant expressed her admiration for Rodriguez. “The thing about Sonia is that she’s so versatile. She’s an incredible ballerina that can create so many roles, and she does so many styles, classical dance as well as contemporary dance, and then she’s a wonderful mother and she’s just a complete woman.”
Rodriguez said she was proud to be Canadian and thanked all who helped her along the way. “I’m just so humbled and honoured to be celebrated here today for my body of work and what I love to do so much,” she said.
As well as a star on the Walk of Fame, late comedian Phil Hartman, best known for his accomplishments on “Saturday Night Live” and his many able impersonations and voiceover work, was also honoured with the posthumous Cineplex Legends Award.
Hartman started off as a successful graphic artist and went on to help create the Pee-Wee Herman character and co-write the classic “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” He is also well known for his role in “The Simpsons” as the voice of Troy McLure and Lionel Hutz. His brother Paul, who campaigned tirelessly to have his brother recognized, accepted the award on his behalf. “I think he would have really appreciated it,” he said.
In the 1960s, Russ Jackson broke the precedent that only an American quarterback could be successful in the CFL by leading the Ottawa Rough Riders to three Grey Cup wins and by winning several top player awards. Upon retiring from football in 1976, Jackson went on to a successful career as a teacher and principal.
“It’s just fantastic to be singled out from a team sport and given this kind of honour,” said Jackson, who is also a member of the Order of Canada. However, when asked about his proudest achievement he had no doubts, “I always looked at football as my hobby and education as my profession, and to have 30-plus years working with those kids was really special. A lot of great kids.”
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