Famous Canadians: From John Candy to Wayne Gretzky to Louis Chenevert

It may be difficult to believe, but when comparing the total land mass of Canada and the United States, it is just about equal. Even though Canada may appear to be a large country on the map, much of it is quite cold and can be tough to thrive in. The population definitely reflects this as well. In 2016, the reported population of Canada was at 36.29 million. To put that in perspective, the state of California’s population in 2016 was 39.25 million. California is the most populated state in the United States though.

The Great White North has produced some extraordinary people over the years. They have provided the world with a few great entertainers, businessmen, and athletes. Let’s take a look at those who thrived in and out of Canada.

John Candy

John Candy’s life was unfortunately cut short when he died at the age of 43 in 1994 from a heart attack. One of world’s greatest comedic actors hailed from Toronto. Early deaths ran in the family with his own father dying from a heart attack at age 35 when John was only five years old. One would think that John Candy had many more years of laughs to provide the world if only he had lived. He had smoked most of his life and had weighed over 300 pounds for quite a few of his adult years.

Candy was considered one of the nicest people in show business. He rarely had a bad word to say about anyone. Stripes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, and Uncle Buck were just a few of his hit films that he acted in. It is a little known fact that he turned down joining the cast of Saturday Night Live because he was loyal to the Canadian show SCTV. Through the years, he never forgot he was a Canadian and looked on it with a sense of pride.

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky is the most famous hockey player of all time. He was born in 1961 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. While far from the most imposing player or the most athletic, he always was one step ahead of everyone else on the ice. Gretzky is definitely one of the most famous Canadians of all time.

He played twenty seasons in the NHL from 1979 to 1999. The nickname granted him was The Great One, meaning he was the greatest hockey player who had ever lived. Gretzky is the leading scorer in NHL history, with more goals and assists than any other player. In addition, he was the only hockey player in the NHL to ever have over 200 points in one season, and he did it four times. As of 2015, he still held 60 records in the NHL. Gretzky can definitely be looked on with pride by his fellow Canadians.

Bret “The Hitman” Hart

Born in 1957 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Bret Hart was part of the famous Hart wrestling family. There was a period in the mid to late 90’s where Hart was one of the most famous wrestlers walking on the planet. His popularity rivaled that of Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Ultimate Warrior, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Shawn Michaels. Hart always wore with pride the label of one of Canada’s most famous sons.

Bret Hart was one of twelve children born to Stu and Martha Hart. Stu Hart had made quite a name for himself in wrestling decades earlier and had started his own wrestling business in Canada during the 70’s and 80’s. His sons were all involved in the wrestling business in some capacity, and his daughters all married wrestlers. This was not something that thrilled Martha Hart since she was not as enamored about the wrestling business as everyone else. Bret Hart rose to fame in the World Wrestling Federation and eventually took his talents to World Championship Wrestling. It was there that a concussion derailed his wrestling career with a stroke happening soon after that ended it completely.

Louis Chenevert

Louis Chenevert Served for Pratt & Whitney Canada Before Heading UTC

Most people probably have never heard of Louis Chenevert–unless they’ve read our previous article on him–but he made his impact felt in the business world. Born in 1958 in Quebec, he had quite an ordinary childhood. Education was his key to move on from his humble beginnings, and he went to university in Montreal. Chenevert received his bachelor’s degree in production management. This led to the first phase of his career.

He worked for 15 years for General Motors in production management, eventually receiving a promotion to Production General Manager. Next, he was hired by Pratt & Whitney, an aerospace manufacturer. They were focused on building aircraft engines, but at the time they were not doing so well. Chenevert played a leading role in turning around their fortunes. Six years later, he was the new president of Pratt & Whitney. Just like the Jeffersons–he was moving on up!

The United Technologies Corporation (UTC) owned Pratt & Whitney along with numerous other companies. They took notice of Chenevert and his leadership abilities. By 2006, he was elected the president and CEO of UTC. After this he made several strong moves that left UTC as one of the top companies across the globe.

Many people speak about leaving a job or position while they are still on top, but Chenevert actually did this. In 2014, he retired from UTC. He now spends his time on his yacht, and improving technology on numerous other yachts as a sort of side job. Not bad for someone that started off in production with General Motors.

People always mention the American dream of starting off from nothing and achieving greatness, but the exact same can be said about Canadian citizens as well. It does not matter the field or the career choice. Some of the most famous artists, athletes, and businessmen in America actually began in Canada.

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About the Author: Nick Callen

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