Here are more New Brunswickers who have gained National and International acclaim. Have we missed someone? Please drop us a line and let us know. Also check our “NB Facts” page for others not listed here.
Willie Eldon O’Ree, CM, ONB ( 1935 – ) born in Fredericton. A former professional hockey player, known best for being the first black player in the NHL. O’Ree played as a winger for the Boston Bruins. After O’Ree’s stint in the NHL, there were no other black players in the NHL until another Canadian player, Mike Marson, was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1974.
Marg Osburne (1927–1977) was born in Moncton. She was a Canadian country, folk and gospel singer and a regular on Don Messer’s Jubilee. Recipient (posthumously) of the ECMA Stompin’ Tom Connors award.
Sir George Robert Parkin (1846-1922) Born at Parkindale near Salisbury, he was a graduate from theUniversity of New Brunswick. From 1867 to 1871, he taught at the Bathurst Grammar School. From 1872 to 1889, he was the Headmaster of the Fredericton Collegiate School, where the poets Charles Roberts, Bliss Carman, and Francis Sherman came under his influence. From 1895 to 1902, he was the Headmaster of Upper Canada College. The former Liberal Party of Canada leader Michael Ignatieff is his great-grandson. His daughter Alice married Canadian businessman and diplomat Vincent Massey, who would become Governor General of Canada shortly after Alice’s death in 1950.
Freeman Patterson is a highly acclaimed photographer, teacher, and writer who was born at Long Reach on the Kingston Peninsula. Freeman has written for various magazines, CBC radio, and been featured on CBC television. Freeman returned to New Brunswick in 1973 primarily in order to pursue his personal artistic interests and to establish a workshop of photography and visual design. Freeman completed numerous assignments across Canada for the Still Photography Division of the National Film Board of Canada.
Peter Lewis Paul ( 1902-1989 ), born in Woodstock; barrel-maker, expert in Maliseet language and culture; advisor to many linguists and anthropologists; awarded honorary doctorate by the UNB in 1970 in recognition of his enormous contribution to Native scholarship; Member of the Order of Canada. Paul grew up hunting and learning family and tribal lore from his grandfather.
Catharine Pendrel (born September 30, 1980) is a Canadian cross-country mountain biker from Harvey. A member of the Canadian National team since 2004, Pendrel was the world champion in cross-country mountain biking in 2011 and 2014 and the 2007 Pan American Games champion. She is also the current reigning Commonwealth Games champion when she won gold in Glasgow. Additionally, Pendrel is the 2010 World Cup Champion as well as the winner of the 2012 UCI and 2016 World Cup.
Walter Pidgeon ( 1898-1984 ), Hollywood actor, best remembered for his startling role in “Mrs. Miniver” – a war time classic. Walter was born and raised in Saint John. He attended local schools and UNB, where he studied law and drama. His university education was interrupted by World War I. Pidgeon made his Broadway debut in 1925.
Pascal Poirier ( 1852-1933 ), born in Shediac: writer, first Acadian appointed to the Senate (1885) and served for 48 years, 6 months, and 17 days until his death in 1933. He wrote books on Acadian history and language; honored as a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by France in 1902 for his contributions to survival of French language in Acadia.
Jack Pratt ( 1878-1938 ) Born John Harold Pratt, he was an actor and director, known for Roman Candles (1920), Dan (1914) and The Little Pirate (1913).
Mary Pratt (1935 – 2018) was the daughter of Harvard-educated attorney William J. West, who served as the Minister of Justice of New Brunswick from 1952 to 1958 and Katherine West (born MacMurray). She grew up in Fredericton and attended Mount Allison University, studying Fine Arts under Alex Colville, Ted Pulford, and Lawren P. Harris, completing her degree in 1961. Pratt’s paintings were exhibited in most major galleries in Canada, reproduced in magazines such as Saturday Night, Chatelaine, and Canadian Art. Her work is found in many prominent public, corporate, and private collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the New Brunswick Museum, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Museum London, and Canada House in England.
John Ralston was born in Miramichi and is the youngest of the four children of Mary and James (Bill) Ralston. His father was a decorated Second World War and Korean War pilot, who was interned in a German PoW camp. John attended UNB and became a teacher. He settled in Toronto, took up acting and quickly landed the lead role of Jack Berg on CTV’s drama series “The City”.
Eldon Davis Rathburn (1916-2008) CM, composer, pianist, organist, and teacher was born in Queenstown. Known as the “Dean of Canadian Film Composers,” Rathburn worked as a composer at the National Film Board (NFB) from 1944 to 1976. He composed over 300 film scores throughout his career. He wrote the music for a number of IMAX films. He began performing on the piano for local Saint John dance bands and radio broadcasts, including with Don Messer.
Father Marcel-François Richard ( 1847-1915 ), born in St. Louis de Kent; priest; instrumental in founding a classical college (the Académie Saint-Louis), and building churches and convents; strong advocate of formation of Acadian diocese and appointment of Acadian bishop; known as the “Father of Modern Acadia”.
David Adams Richards ( 1950- ), born in Newcastle; author; won Governor’s General’s Awards, a Gemini Award, and the Giller Prize. . He has also been awarded the Order of Canada. He is currently the Artist in Residence at St. Thomas University.
Sir Charles G.D. Roberts ( 1860- 1943 ), born in Fredericton; author, poet, professor; taught English at King’s College (1885- 95); considered the “Father of Canadian literature.” Roberts’ poems mirror the landscape of the Tantramar Marshes, and he is recognized as one of the two creators of the realistic animal story.
Brenda Mary Robertson (1929- ), born in Sussex; politician; first woman elected to New Brunswick legislature (1967); as Minister of Youth and Social Services (1970-74), was the first woman cabinet minister in New Brunswick; Minister of Health, 1975-82; appointed to Senate, 1984.
Louis J. Robichaud (1925-2005 ), born in St. Anthony; politician; elected to the New Brunswick legislature in 1952; chosen as Liberal party leader in 1958; 1960-70, restructured provincial government, introduced the Program of Equal Opportunity, and passed the Official Languages of New Brunswick Act.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jr. ( 1914-1988 ) He was the son of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt. He was born at the Roosevelts’ summer retreat on Campobello Island, NB.
Dan Ross ( 1912-1995 ), East Riverside, has over 325 novels in print. He’s the author of both national and international best selling novels. His book “China Shadows” sold over 2 million copies.
Fred Ross (1927 – 2014). Frederick Joseph Ross was born in Saint John studying art at the Saint John Vocational School. Ross received a bachelor of fine arts from Mount Allison University and a bachelor of education from the University of New Brunswick. His work was displayed at the National Gallery in Ottawa and he was the first New Brunswicker to have an exhibit in the art gallery of the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In 2002 he was made a Member of the Order of Canada and in 2008 he was inducted into the Order of New Brunswick.
Charles Edward “Charlie” Russell (1937-2011) was a Canadian country music DJ for CJCJ in Woodstock best known for his 1975 album “The Bricklin” and Other Sound Investments, a satirical record in which he poked fun at the Bricklin SV-1, the Canadian Postal Service and the Canadian Parliament. He was inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame in 1984.
Robert Andrew “Andy” Keith Scott, ( 1955–2013 ) was a Liberal Member of the Canadian Parliament representing Fredericton. Andy grew up in Barkers Point. He was the only son in a family of four children. The family business involved making cement blocks and fireplaces for houses.
Kevin Scott MacMichael (1951–2002) was born in Saint John. He was a guitarist, songwriter and record producer, best known for being a member of the 1980s UK-based pop-rock band, Cutting Crew, who had a number-one hit in 1987 with “(I Just) Died in Your Arms“.
Dr. Elizabeth (Smith) Secord (1841-1916) The first woman licensed to practice medicine in New Brunswick grew up in Sunbury County and began her practice there. She decided to become a doctor when she became a widow in her early 30s, with a young son in tow. No Canadian medical school accepted women, so Secord earned her MD in 1881 from Keokuk College, Iowa. It was in face of “somewhat bitter opposition” that she was registered as a physician in New Brunswick in 1883. Dr. Secord’s Medical diploma is in the Currie House Museum.
Francis Joseph Sherman (1871-1926) born in Fredericton. He was a Canadian poet who published several books of poetry during the 1890s. Charles G.D. Roberts, who first met Sherman in 1895, described him as “very tall, lean, very dark, with heavy black eyebrows like his mother, and with the large wistful eyes of the poet rather than the banker.” Sherman was writing poetry at that time, and with G. D. Roberts’s encouragement published his first book the next year.
Anna Silk (1974 – ) was born in Fredericton, the daughter of Peter Silk, an academic, and Ilkay Silk. She graduated from St. Thomas University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1997. She appeared in at least two productions at the St. Thomas Theatre, “Seven Menus” and “The Kitchen.” Anna has guest starred in numerous television shows but most famously known for playing Bo, the lead role in the hit television series Lost Girl (2010) and the series “Being Erica’.
Chris Skinner was born in 1961 in Saint John, the son of community activist and educator, Clifford ‘Nick’ Skinner. Skinner became a professional football player and was a star running back and receiver. He played with the Edmonton Eskimos, Ottawa Rough Riders and British Columbia Lions. Skinner was nominated for the annual CFL Schenley Award, recognizing the most outstanding player in the league.
Brett Somers (1924-2007) born in Saint John as Audrey Dawn Johnston, she grew up near Portland Maine. She was an actress, known for Match Game 73 (1973), The T.V. Show (1979) and Match Game (1990). She was married to Jack Klugman and Robert Klein.
Matthew Wade Stairs (1968- ) born in Taymouth, a former professional baseball outfielder, first baseman, designated hitter, and pinch hitter who holds the record for most pinch-hit home runs in Major League history.
William Steeves (1814-1873), a merchant, lumberman, politician and Father of Canadian Confederation. Born and raised in Hillsborough, William Henry Steeves was a descendant of Heinrich Stief, the founder of the Steeves family in North America, and Regina Stahlecker. Steeves was a supporter of Confederation and was one of New Brunswick’s delegates to the Charlottetown Conference and the Quebec Conference of 1864. He was appointed to theCanadian Senate as a Liberal, when the chamber was created in 1867.
Andrew J. Stewart from Saint John patents a cold-water soap, which features the ingredients of borax, ammonia, naphtha, and turpentine in 1871. Considered unsafe by today’s standards, this invention is a pioneer in modern cold-water detergents.
Thomas MacAvity Stewart of Saint John, patented the vortex-flushing toilet bowl, which creates a self-cleansing effect.
Donald Sutherland ( 1934- ) Hollywood actor original from Saint John. Star of hundreds of TV and movie productions such as “Cassanova”, “Eye of the Needle”, “Klute”, “M.A.S.H.”, “The Dirty Dozen” and the Academy award-winning “Ordinary People.”
George Taylor ( 1838 – 1939 ) the son of Frances Morrison and William P. Taylor, was born on Northumberland Street in Fredericton. Resourceful and creative, George Taylor built his own cameras. George was one of the first to photograph Fredericton and its surrounding areas, and in 1863, Lieutenant-Governor Arthur Hamilton Gordon requested that Taylor travel the Province and take photographic views. Canada’s first national news magazine, “Canadian Illustrated News,” published its first edition in 1869, which contained examples of Taylor’s work.
James Taylor (1794–1856 ) Born in Fredericton, a businessman and political figure. With his brothers William and John F., he entered the family business in timber, ship building and construction. Taylor was a director of the Nashwaak Mill and Manufacturing Company, later serving as president of its milling operations. The family business: James Taylor Senior and Company was a leading building firm in Fredericton. It was selected in July 1826 as one of the contractors to construct what was to be King’s College (UNB). Taylor also helped found the Fredericton Hotel and Stage Coach Company.
Benjamin Franklin Tibbets ( 1811-1850 ) Invented the world’s first practical compound marine engine, used in the steamer “Reindeer.” The Reindeer was the fastest steamer in the 1820’s on the St. John River. It once made it up to Fredericton in under six hours.
Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley ( 1818-1896 ), born in Gagetown. Tilley served as a member of the Legislative Assembly for many years, and held the office of premier from 1861-65. He was a delegate to the three pre-Confederation conferences and held office in Sir John A. Macdonald’s first administration in Ottawa. He later became lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick and minister of finance in the second Macdonald government. Following service in Ottawa, Tilley was reappointed lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick.
Ken Tobias (1945 – ) born and raised in Saint John. He joined a folk group “The Ramblers” and was a regular on the CBC TV series “Singalong Jubilee”. He is noted for penning the 1971 chart-topping hit for The Bells, “Stay Awhile“, and for several top-selling recordings of his own.
Stuart Trueman started his career as a cartoonist and reporter. He interviewed Amelia Earhart at the Saint John airport. He was often referred to as “Mr. New Brunswick” and wrote many books winning the Stephen Leacock Memorial Award for humour.
Ronald Joseph Morel Turcotte (1941- ) lives in Grand Falls. He is a retired Canadian thoroughbred race horse jockey best known as the rider of Secretariat, winner of the U.S. Triple Crown in 1973. In 1972 he rode Riva Ridge to victory in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes.
Dr. Wallace Turnbull ( 1870-1954 ), invented the variable pitch propeller, and built the world’s first wind tunnel, which revolutionized the aviation industry. He was considered a genius of aeronautical engineering and inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1977. He was a resident of Rothesay, N.B.
Peter Veniot ( 1863-1936 ), born in Richibucto; lawyer, politician; represented Gloucester in the Legislative Assembly (1894- 1900); the first Acadian to act as premier (1923-25); Postmaster General of Canada (1926-30).
Kevin Michael Vickers (1956- ) born in Chatham, the ninth Sergeant-at-Arms of the House of Commons. He is responsible for the safety and security of the Parliament buildings and occupants, and ensuring and controlling access to the House of Commons. He ended the October 22, 2014, shootings at Parliament Hill when he killed gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who was exchanging gunfire with security personnel in the Centre Block. Vickers also served as Chief Superintendent of the RCMP.
Roch Voisine the popular singing sensation and actor, was born on March 26, 1963 in Edmundston to Real and Zelanda Voisine. He was brought up in Saint-Basile, but moved to Notre-Dame-du-Lac, following the divorce of his parents.
John Clarence Webster ( 1863- 1950 ), born in Shediac; surgeon, historian; wrote medical and scientific treatises; upon retirement from medicine, turned to historical research and helped found museums at Saint John and Fort Beauséjour.
Lemuel Allan Wilmot ( 1809-1878 ), born in Sunbury County; statesman, jurist; attorney General (1847-1851); virtual head of first New Brunswick administration under responsible government, a reform he had advocated; judge of Supreme Court of New Brunswick; Lieutenant-Governor (1868-1873).
Lyman Ward ( 1941- ) born in Saint John. An actor who played the father in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. He also starred in Independence Day, Sleepwalkers, Planes Trains & Automobiles, and appeared in Episode one of Laverne & Shirley.
Elsie Wayne ( 1932 – 2016 ) was a politician who served as a Progressive Conservative member of parliament for Saint John from 1993 to 2004. She was born in Shediac. In 1977, she was elected to the Saint John municipal council. In 1983, she became the first female mayor of Saint John, and became extremely popular in the city. In the 1993 federal election, she ran as the governing Progressive Conservative Party’s candidate in the riding of Saint John. Wayne was one of only two Tories elected nationwide. She announced her retirement from politics on February 16, 2004. In November 2009, she suffered a stroke. She died on August 23, 2016 at her home in Saint John.
Robb Wells was born in Moncton. He and his three friends decided to pass the time making crude video skits of themselves. That developed into the tv series Trailer Park Boys.
Bradley Stanford “Brad” Woodside ( 1948- ) In 1986, Woodside was elected Mayor of Fredericton and is the longest serving Mayor of the city. Woodside is also serving as the President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from STU in 2011. Woodside can count a range of accomplishments, including promoting information technology in Fredericton, and the development of information technology infrastructure such as the Fred eZone wireless zone.
Shawn Wright was born in Saint John, 1961. He was a graduate of St Malachy’s. From playing Matthew Cuthbert in Canada’s longest running musical ‘Anne of Green Gables’ at the Charlottetown Festival to a lead role in the Toronto Production of ‘Jersey Boys’ and in the original company of ‘Mamma Mia’, or his ten years at the renowned Stratford Festival, Wright’s resume is as long as his arm. Shawn was also a recurring character on ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ and ‘Due South’.
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Wonderful information. Thank you!