A national historic person is an individual or a representative of a group that has made a lasting contribution to the history of Canada.

National historic persons

Profiled below are some of the national historic persons that have been designated through the recommendations of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC). Note that additional national historic designations will continue to be added to this page.

A full list of national historic persons, places and events can be found on the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations.


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National Historic Person
Historical photo of a man and a dog seated

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was a Canadian army physician during World War I and wrote "In Flanders Fields".

Copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / C-046284

Black and white image of a man with a white beard

James Isbister

This English Métis leader founded the Isbister Métis settlement (Prince Albert), where he and his spouse Margaret Bear established a farm in 1862.

Copyright: © Glenbow Museum / NA-4043-4

Sepia toned photograph of a man

John P. Humphrey

John P. Humphrey was a lawyer, internationalist, and McGill University professor who became an influential international civil servant at the United Nations (UN) Secretariat in New York City.

Copyright: © McGill University Archives / 2002-0086.04.10

William Notman

William Notman

William Notman was one of the most successful Canadian photographers of the 19th century.

Copyright: © McCord Museum / Object Number : I-30283

A black and white portrait of a woman

Thérèse Casgrain

Beginning in 1922, Thérèse Casgrain served as a prominent member of the Provincial Franchise Committee, which in 1928 became the Ligue des droits de la femme.

Copyright: © Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada / PA-178177

Hans Selye

Dr. Hans Selye

Hans Selye is the father of stress research. His view of stress as a biological reaction at first provoked controversy.

Copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / National Film Board fonds / e011176297

Louis-Joseph Papineau

Louis-Joseph Papineau

A major political figure of the 19th century, Louis-Joseph Papineau strove to reform Lower Canada’s political institutions and strengthen democracy in the colony.

Copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / T.C. Doane / Library and Archives Canada, e011154378_s2

plaque

Thornton and Lucie Blackburn

The Blackburns' determination to build free lives provides a window on the experience of many refugees in the Underground Railroad era.

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

Teacher, scientist and inventor, Bell devoted his life, with unusual success, to the benefit of mankind.

Image copyright: © Moffett Studio/Library and Archives/C-017335

Terry Fox

Terry Fox (1958-1981)

His “Marathon of Hope,” which began in St. John’s on April 12, 1980, captivated Canadians with its bold humanitarianism, transformed our vocabulary about personal courage, and revolutionized fund-raising.

Frank Skinner

Frank Leith Skinner (1882 - 1967)

A self-taught pioneering horticulturist, Frank Skinner developed and marketed over 300 varieties of plants able to withstand the severe climate of the Canadian Prairies.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / National Film Board fonds / e011177224 / Copyright expired

John By

Lieutenant-colonel John By (1779-1836)

Lieutenant-colonel John By was one of the greatest early engineers in Canada who built the Rideau Canal.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / Acc. No. 1972-26-795 / Copyright expired

Lucille Clifton

‘Wii Niisł Puuntk (Lucille Clifton) (1876-1962)

Former Laxsgiik (Eagle Clan) leader, she is an outstanding example of a centuries-old role held by prominent Gitga’at (Tsimshian) women in this matrilineal society, held traditional knowledge and passed on cultural practices.

Image copyright: © Courtesy of the Prince Rupert City & Regional Archives & Museum of Northern B.C. / Wrathall collection / JRW2208

Marie-Victorin

Brother Marie-Victorin (1885-1944)

Botanist, author and educator, Brother Marie-Victorin played a major role in the scientific movements of his time.

Image copyright: © Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Author : Albert Dumas, P1000,S4,D83,PM39

Portia May White

Portia May White (1911-1968)

The first African-Canadian woman to win international acclaim, contralto Portia White had a remarkable career on the concert stage.

Image copyright: © Yousuf Karsh, Library and Archives Canada, PA-192783

C.H. Punch Dickins

C. H. "Punch" Dickins (1899-1995)

C. H. “Punch” Dickins was a distinguished pilot during the First World War.

Image copyright: © Archives of Manitoba / Canadian Airways Limited fonds / PR1978-188, [ca. 1933], C162 photo, ON732

William Saunders

William Saunders (1836 -1914)

William Saunders was an expert in scientific agriculture and the director of the Experimental farms branch of Department of Agriculture.

Image copyright: © William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / PA-140405 / Copyright expired / PA-140405 / Copyright: expired

George Dixon

George Dixon (1870-1908)

Widely regarded as one of the top boxers of the late 19th century, George Dixon was renowned for his stamina, speed, and defence and was the first Black athlete and first Canadian to win a world title.

Image copyright: © Photo courtesy of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame

John Molson

John Molson (1763-1836)

John Molson was one of Montréal’s leading entrepreneurs in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / Canada Post Corporation / Stamp Services

Adelaide Hoodless

Adelaide Hunter Hoodless (1857-1910)

Born in Ontario, Adelaide Hoodless sought to release the full potential of women for social action.

Image copyright: © Estate of Marion Long / Library and Archives Canada / Acc. No. 1993-308-1

Agnes Macphail

Agnes Campbell Macphail (1890-1954)

Agnes Macphail was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons following the enfranchisement of women in Canada.

Image copyright: © Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada / C-021557

Chief Peguis

Chief Peguis (1774-1864)

A skilled hunter and diplomat, Chief Peguis worked to protect the rights and interests of the Anishinaabeg of Red River and stepped in to save lives when fur trade animosities threatened the Selkirk Settlement.

Image copyright: © Archives of Manitoba / Peguis 1 / N17188

Emily Stowe

Emily Stowe (1831-1903)

Emily Stowe's crusade for female suffrage and higher education for women placed her in the vanguard of the women's rights movement in Canada.

Image copyright: © Wilfrid Laurier University Archives & Special Collections

E. Pauline Johnson

E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913)

Born here at Chiefswood, the daughter of a Mohawk chief, E. Pauline Johnson gained international fame for her romantic writings on Indian themes, but she also wrote about nature, religion and Canadian nationalism.

Image copyright: © Cochran / Library and Archives Canada / C-085125

Florence Wyle

Florence Wyle (1881-1968)

Trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition and influenced by modern trends, Frances Loring and Florence Wyle were important in the development of sculpture in Canada.

Image copyright: © Royal Canadian Academy of Arts / Library and Archives Canada / PA-103157

Frances Loring

Frances Loring (1887-1968)

Trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition and influenced by modern trends, Frances Loring and Florence Wyle were important in the development of sculpture in Canada.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / National Film Board fonds / e011176979

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman (1822-1913)

Born on a Maryland plantation, Harriet Tubman escaped slavery to become one of the great heroes of the 19th century.

Image copyright: © Library of Congress

John McCurdy

John A. D. McCurdy (1886-1961)

As pilot of the Silver Dart, John A. D. McCurdy made the first airplane flight in Canada here at Baddeck on February 23, 1909.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada

Irma Levasseur

Irma LeVasseur (1877-1964)

At a time when francophone universities remained closed to women, Irma LeVasseur moved to the United States to study medicine and became, in 1903, the first female physician licensed to practise in Quebec.

Image copyright: © Infant Jesus Hospital

Jean Blewett

Jean Blewett (McKishnie) (1862-1934)

Born at Scotia, Upper Canada, and educated at St. Thomas Collegiate Institute, Jean McKishnie was for many years a member of the staff of the Toronto "Globe," continuing as an active journalist until 1925.

Image copyright: © Copyright expired / See Wikipedia

Kathleen Blake Coleman

Kathleen Blake Coleman (1856-1915)

An innovative journalist, Coleman ran the “Woman’s Kingdom” pages of the former Daily Mail and then Mail and Empire in Toronto, from 1889 to 1911.

Image copyright: © The Carbon Studio / Library and Archives Canada / PA-164916

Kathleen Kay Livingstone

Kathleen «Kay» Livingstone (1918-1975)

As the driving force behind the first National Black Women’s Congress in 1973, Livingstone advanced the cause of African-Canadian women.

Image copyright: © W. P. Holas, Millenium Minds: 100 Black Canadians / Ottawa / Pan-African Publications / 2000, p. 129 *Parks Canada is in the process of confirming the rights to use this photo.

Mary Ann Shadd

Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893)

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, Mary Ann Shadd became a prominent activist in the Underground Railroad refugee communities of Upper Canada during the 1850s.

Image copyright: © National Archives of Canada / C-29977

Mazo de la Roche

Mazo de la Roche (1879-1961)

Born in Newmarket, Ontario, Mazo de la Roche was a prolific writer whose works include novels, short stories, plays, and autobiography.

Image copyright: © Archives of Ontario / F 1075-13, H 1786

Nahnebahwequay

Nahnebahwequay (1824-1865)

In the mid-19th century, Nahnebahwequay was a Mississauga activist who fought against colonial policies that dispossessed First Nations from their lands.

Image copyright: © The Grey Roots Archival Collection

Sara Jeannette Duncan

Sara Jeannette Duncan (1861-1922)

Pioneering journalist in the late 19th century, Sara Jeannette Duncan challenged social and political norms by examining women’s changing roles, the need for a national culture, and the way Canadian politics worked.

Image copyright: © Johnston and Hoffman / Library and archives Canada / C-046447

Theophile Panadis

Théophile Panadis (1889–1966)

Théophile Panadis dedicated his life to safeguarding, sharing, and perpetuating Abenaki traditional knowledge and ways.

Thomas Adams

Thomas Adams (1871–1940)

Thomas Adams was a prominent town planner in early-20th-century Canada.

Image copyright: © Nova Scotia Archives

Mabel Hubbard Bell

Mabel Hubbard Bell (1857-1923)

Mabel Hubbard Bell made important contributions to the work of her husband, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, and was a community leader on Cape Breton Island.

Ernest Cormier

Ernest Cormier (1885-1980)

Ernest Cormier, born in Montréal in 1885, was one of the most renowned Canadian architects of the 20th century.

Image copyright: © Ernest Cormier Fonds, Canadian Centre for Architecture

Helen Creighton

Helen Creighton (1899-1989)

Helen Creighton devoted her life to preserving and promoting Nova Scotia’s unique folk culture. A pioneering collector of Maritime folk music, her ethnographic activity between 1928 and 1975 documented the folklore of Nova Scotia on a scale previously unseen.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / National Film Board fonds / e011177105

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond (1914-1965)

In mid-20th century Canada, Viola Desmond brought nationwide attention to the African Nova Scotian community’s struggle for equal rights.

Image copyright: © Wanda and Joe Robson Collection / 16-80-30220 / Beaton Institute / Cape Breton University

Ludger Duvernay

Ludger Duvernay (1799-1852)

A key player in the political and intellectual life of Lower Canada from 1817 until his death in 1852, Ludger Duvernay was a printer-publisher and owner of a Patriote and then a ministerial newspaper.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / MIKAN 4313019

Mina Benson Hubbard Ellis

Mina Benson Hubbard Ellis (1870-1956)

At the turn of the 20th century, explorer, surveyor, and exploration writer Mina Hubbard led an expedition to survey the last unmapped area of eastern Canada.

Image copyright: © Hubbard, Mrs. Leonidas, Jr., 1908. A Woman’s Way Through Unknown Labrador. London / John Murray / facing p. 88 [henceforth A Woman’s Way]

Rose Fortune

Rose Fortune (c.1774-1864)

Rose Fortune’s life and accomplishments represent the struggle of the Black Loyalist community, and Black Loyalist women in 18th century British colony of Nova Scotia.

Image copyright: © Nova Scotia Archives and Records Management [NSARM] Documentary Art Collection / acc. no. 1979-147/56 | NSARM neg. N-6955 CN-9813

Northrop Frye

Northrop Frye (1912-1991)

Based at Victoria College, University of Toronto, from 1939-1991, Northrop Frye was a pre-eminent literary theorist and critic.

Image copyright: © Harry Palmer / Library and Archives Canada / PA-183431

Larry Gains

Larry Gains (1900-1983)

Born and trained in Canada, heavyweight boxer Larry Gains gained prominence in the 1920s and 1930s by winning the Canadian and British Empire Titles.

Image copyright: © Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Archives / Date unknown

Mary Grannan

Mary Grannan (1900-1975)

Mary Grannan was an internationally-recognized, award-winning pioneer of English-language Canadian children's broadcasting.

Image copyright: © Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Library and Archives Canada / e003895009

Henry Youle Hind

Henry Youle Hind (1823-1908)

A Victorian-era scientist, explorer, surveyor, and writer of popular exploration texts, Henry Youle Hind made a range of contributions to the advancement of science in Canada.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada

Kahgegagahbowh

Kahgegagahbowh (George Copway) (1818–1869)

Kahgegagahbowh (George Copway) was an early Anishinaabe author of popular non-fiction books, which expressed pride in his nation, engaged with Victorian and Romantic literatures to challenge their racism, and offered non-Indigenous readers—in Canada and abroad—important insights into Mississauga spirituality, history, and culture.

Image copyright: © Library and Archives Canada / Canada Post Corporation / Stamp Services

Curé Antoine Labelle

Curé Antoine Labelle (1833-1891)

A prominent figure in Quebec in the second half the 19th century, Antoine Labelle, a Catholic priest, was responsible for the parish of Saint-Jérôme from 1868 to 1891.

Image copyright: © William Notman / Société d’histoire de la Rivière-du-Nord / Fonds Mgr Paul Labelle

Ozias Leduc

Ozias Leduc (1864-1955)

Ozias Leduc is considered one of the most significant painters in Canadian art history.

Image copyright: © Trois-Rivières Seminary's Archives / Albert Tessier Fonds / Cote: 0014-P2-34a-67

Onondeyoh

Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft) (1861–1934)

Onondeyoh (Frederick Ogilvie Loft) was an important First Nations political leader in the period following the First World War.

Image copyright: © Canada. Dept. of National Defense / Library and Archives Canada / MIKAN 3629837

Léo Ernest Ouimet

Léo-Ernest Ouimet (1877-1972)

Active in the world of cinema from 1904 to 1935, Léo-Ernest Ouimet was a pioneer as a movie theatre operator, film distributor, filmmaker, and producer in the early Canadian film industry.

Image copyright: © City of Montreal Archives / BM1-11_11op-1906-1-1

Edward Patridge

Edward Alexander Partridge (1861-1931)

In the context of a booming wheat economy in early 20th century Canada, E.A. Partridge played a major role in the agrarian protest movement of Western Canada.

Pegahmagabow

Francis Pegahmagabow (1889-1952)

Francis Pegahmagabow was a highly-effective sniper and scout in the First World War, and his military service and passionate advocacy for Indigenous rights continue to be an inspiration to his Nishnaabe community.

Image copyright: © George Metcalf Archival Collection / Canadian War Museum

Richard Pierpoint

Richard Pierpoint (c. 1744–c. 1838)

Richard Pierpoint, born in the kingdom of Bundu (a region located in present-day Senegal), was captured in 1760 and forcibly transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Thirteen British Colonies in America that became the United States.

Image copyright: © Canadian War Museum / Illustration by Malcolm Jones / 1.E.2.4-CGR2

Tommy Prince

Thomas George “Tommy” Prince (1915–1977)

Tommy Prince was a prominent Anishinaabe activist and veteran whose brave and tragic life has long held popular resonance.

Image copyright: © Christopher J. Woods / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-142289

Donald Rawson

Donald Strathearn Rawson (1905–1961)

Donald Strathearn Rawson was a pioneering professional limnologist in western Canada in the first half of the 20th century.

Image copyright: © University of Saskatchewan / University Archives & Special Collections / Photograph Collection / A-3380

Frederic Gage Todd

Frederick Gage Todd (1876-1948)

Frederick Gage Todd was Canada's first professional landscape architect.

Image copyright: © City of Montréal Archives / CA M001 VM094-Y-1-17-D1041

Luther Hamilton Holton

Luther Hamilton Holton (1817-1880)

Successful businessman involved in a variety of timely interests, he played a pivotal role in the development of the Grand Trunk Railway. A prominent politician, he was Minister of Finance (1863-1864).

Image copyright: © Topley Studio/Library and Archives Canada/PA-026313

Antoine Gérin-Lajoie

Antoine Gérin-Lajoie (1824-1882)

Antoine Gérin-Lajoie was a poet, novelist, and historian who actively contributed to the birth of 19th-century French-Canadian literature.

Image copyright: © Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec / No. 2584 / public domain image

Peter Pitseolak

Peter Pitseolak (1902-1973)

Aware that Inuit culture was undergoing momentous change, Peter Pitseolak took care to record both the old customs and beliefs of his people and their adjustment to a new life.

Image copyright: © Canadian Museum of History / Control # 2000-1313 / CD Barcode # 0777-3291-2275-030

Olivier Le Jeune

Olivier Le Jeune

First documented person of African descent living on a permanent basis in Canada (New France), provides a glimpse into the experiences of enslaved people based on historical records.

Image copyright: © 2003 Wang Qijun

John Stewart

John Stewart (1758-1834)

John Stewart was the author of An Account of Prince Edward Island (1806), which is recognized as the first written history of the colony of Prince Edward Island.

Image copyright: © Prince Edward Island Public Archives and Records Office (PAROPEI Acc 2320/2-1) / Bill Rose Collection

Chloe Cooley

Chloe Cooley

Chloe Cooley was an enslaved woman of African descent living in Queenston, Upper Canada. Her courageous resistance against her violent and forced transportation to New York in 1793 became a well-known example of the everyday acts of resistance of enslaved women of African descent in Upper Canada.

Image copyright: © Naomi Moyer in collaboration with historian Funké Aladejebi, 2017

Thanadelthur

Thanadelthur

This young Dene woman, a skilled interpreter and negotiator, played a crucial role in the expansion of the English fur trade in the Northwest.

John Ware

John Ware (ca. 1850–1905)

John Ware was a Black cowboy who forged a successful ranching career despite racism, rough frontier conditions, and having been enslaved.

Image copyright: © University of Calgary

Wong Foon Sien

Wong Foon Sien

This journalist, labour activist, and community leader was instrumental in the campaign to lift the remaining immigration restrictions following the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1947.

Image copyright: © William Cunningham photograph/Vancouver Public Library/60589


Want to see more heritage designations?

Search through over 3,600 designations listed in the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations (DFHD)


The Directory of Federal Heritage Designations offers a complete list of federal designations stemming from various programs managed by Parks Canada. It includes information on designated persons, places, and events of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, as well as railway stations, lighthouses, and federal buildings that are of national historic value or interest.