Discover 9 Great Canadians

While we’re distracted by the Richard Bransons, Angelinas, Wolfgang Pucks and Michael Phelpses of the world, some of our fellow Canadians are also doing great things but have yet to become household, dinner party or barstool names. Here are nine Canadians you may not have heard of but should definitely know.  

1. Jim Pattison
Vancouver-based Jim Pattison is a Canadian business magnate, billionaire, and philanthropist… and clearly the kind of guy young entrepreneurs strive to emulate. He is the president, managing director, chief executive officer, chairman and sole owner of the Jim Pattison Group. Have you heard of it? It’s the largest privately held company in Canada and he is Canada’s richest person. The company is the owner of numerous car dealerships, Overwaitea Foods and Save-On-Foods, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, Guinness World Records and radio and TV stations in British Columbia and Alberta. He also owned the Vancouver Blazers of the World Hockey Association.

What makes him notable:
Pattison was no trust fund baby and has worked tirelessly his entire life to get to where he is today. He used earnings from selling used cars during the summer at one of the largest used car lots in Vancouver to pay for his studies at UBC. An avid sports fan, he was involved with the committee for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and made sure that the city’s hockey fans could catch the Vancouver Canucks’ 2009 1st round NHL playoff series versus the St. Louis Blues when he donated $100,000 to CBC Television in order to rent high definition trucks for away games. He is a well-known philanthropist in BC and last year donated up to $5 million to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation to support its “Building Care Together” campaign.  

2. Tatiana Maslany
We are almost reluctant to put Tatiana on this list since she is already known in the entertainment world – both here and South of the Border. Still, sadly, like other Canadian talent she is not a household name quite yet. She will be soon.

What makes her notable:
Tatiana is the ‘it’ girl at the moment. Though she has yet to celebrate her 30th birthday, Maslany has already won an ACTRA award (for the feature film Picture Day), a Gemini Award (for a guest role on Flashpoint) and been nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her role on the hit Canadian science fiction thriller series Orphan Black. The series also won her a Critics’ Choice Television Award and TCA Award in 2013, as well as a Canadian Screen Award in 2014. We most recently saw her in Jason Priestley’s directorial debut, Cas and Dylan (for which she received a Philip Borsos Award).  

3. Jeff Skoll
Did you know that a Canadian runs the ever-so-guiltily pleasurable (and hugely successful) eBay? Jeff Skoll, who currently lives it up in L.A., is a Canadian engineer, internet entrepreneur and film producer. He was also the first employee and first president of eBay. Skoll was ranked by Forbes as the 7th wealthiest Canadian and 347th in the world, with an estimated net worth of $3.8 billion US (as of September 2013).

What makes him notable:
Skoll has used his bursting bank account for a good cause as an active philanthropist, particularly through the Skoll Foundation. With a passion for entertainment, he also founded the independent movie production company Participant Media.

4. Lesley Kim
Just over half a year ago, Vancouver-based young professional Lesley Kim’s life was changed forever in a tragic Halloween accident that resulted in the removal of her left eye. The incredible insight she gained offered a whole new vision that has not only changed her life, but that of countless others as well.

What makes her notable:
Inspired by the initiatives of Seva Canada, a local Vancouver charity that prevents blindness and restores vision in developing nations, Kim and her family hosted The Spectacle gala on Jan. 31st at The Vancouver Club. This was only three months after the accident. The sold-out event raised an impressive $120,305 for Seva Canada – equal to 2406 sight-restoring cataract surgeries.

5. Kirstine Stewart
Need an example of an executive female powerhouse? Kirstine Stewart is the Managing Director of Twitter Canada. In our eyes, she has a career most pavement-pounding twenty-somethings dream about one day achieving. The former CBC executive played a pivotal role as Head of English Language Services, taking the CBC from last to first place in terms of Canadian programming. She is now doing massive things at Twitter. 

What makes her notable:
Stewart is not afraid to take risks when it comes to her career. On April 29th, 2013 she resigned from her position as Executive Vice President English Services at CBC after accepting a position at Twitter, a huge transition from managing all that content to a platform that thrives on 140 characters or less. Oh, and in addition to being super fashionable and a staple at some of Toronto’s most prestigious events, she is also a wife and mother.

6. Sam Sullivan
Sam Sullivan is the former mayor of Vancouver and currently serves as the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for Vancouver-False Creek. He has been invested as a Member of the Order of Canada and is currently President of the Global Civic Policy Society and Adjunct Professor with the UBC School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. This all comes after Sullivan was left a quadriplegic when he became paralyzed at the age of 19. He subsequently suffered through years of depression before going on to become the huge deal he is in the face of adversity.  

What makes him notable:
Aside from his relentless activism, one of the most notable things about Sullivan is his ability to turn his own personal tragedy into opportunities that will improve the lives of others. He founded six non-profit organizations dedicated to improving the quality of life for disabled people in North America. In short, he is a true example of not letting a disability hinder your ability as a leader to do great things.

7. Julie Payette
Think that Chris Hadfield and Roberta Bondar are the only notable Canadian astronauts? Think again. Julie Payette is a Canadian engineer and astronaut who has completed two spaceflights, STS-96 and STS-127, logging more than 25 days in space. She served as Chief Astronaut for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as well as in other roles for both NASA and CSA, such as the prestigious CAPCOM (capsule communicator). In July 2013, Payette switched gears and went in a bit of a different direction. She now serves as Chief Operating Officer for the Montreal Science Centre in the Old Port of Montreal.

What makes her notable:
Really? She has been to space and is now an influential COO. Enough said.

8. Martha Sturdy
Martha Sturdy (who is now 72) has made a solid career as an artist and an entrepreneur. In her early days, her signature bold, iconic, wearable sculpture (she started off producing large wearable maquettes) was featured in ELLE, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar. Not confined to one medium, her collection developed into a series of sculptural home furnishings using resin, steel, brass and salvaged cedar, and her studio has since expanded to provide sophisticated, timeless custom furniture and fixtures for upscale retail and hospitality clients. When we say upscale, we mean upscale. She is at the caliber of other luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Four Seasons, and Fairmont. No big deal, right?

What makes her notable:
First, Sturdy has handled every single aspect of her booming enterprise for her first 35 years in business, having only hired a senior management team (all of whom are under 35) a few years back. Second, she studied sculpture at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) as a single parent. By the time she graduated in 1978 at the age of 35, however, she was already selling her jewelry at Holt Renfrew and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

9. Patrick Chan
If you tuned into the Sochi Olympics, then you’ve likely heard of Patrick Chan. The 23-year-old silver medal-winning Sochi 2014 Olympic figure skater is one of the most promising athletes to come out of Canada in recent years. In addition to his athletic discipline, though, Chan very much lives what we call a notable, 360-degree lifestyle, one rich with professional success, charitable involvement, physical fitness and a healthy social life.

What makes him notable:
Not only does he dominate the figure skating scene, he excels in other sports like downhill skiing and surfing (as he told us recently on the red carpet at the Right to Play Ball). He also understands the concept of giving back at his young age and proudly supports charities like Right to Play and Ronald McDonald House. He is also a super nice guy, if we do say so ourselves.

Stay tuned for more from the Apothic Wines Discovery Hub, where you will always discover something notable.


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