Idealism, Music, Hockey…The People who Stir Canadian Pride

Bruce Anderson

Bruce Anderson

In our final survey of the year, and as the country prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday, we decided to explore what makes Canadians proud of their country.

To do this, we came up with a wide-ranging list of 78 different items, realizing that we could have had an almost infinite list of ideas to probe for. So, with the caveat that this is by no means the definitive list of items that could stir passion for Canada, this second release will focus on the 36 individuals whose names we included in our survey.  Yesterday, we shared the top 20 list of things we are proud of.

Here’s what we found:

The top 10 names most likely to make Canadians really proud were:

Terry Fox (#2 on our overall list of 78 people, places, and things)
Wayne Gretzky (#14)
Celine Dion (#15)
David Suzuki (#16)
Sidney Crosby (#19)
Leonard Cohen (#20)
Gordie Howe (#21)
Queen Elizabeth II (#23)
Gord Downie (#31)

• While hockey heroes play a big role in our list of pride makers, tennis players Eugenie Bouchard (#52) and Milos Raonic (#53) both stirred a great deal of pride among 12% or 3.5 million Canadian adults. Sprinter Andre DeGrasse was 44th on the list, while retired basketball star Steve Nash was 55th.

• Gilles Vigneault ranked 48th across the country but was much higher (EG 6=7thth) on the list for Quebecers.

• Canada has produced some amazing female singers and songwriters. In addition to Celine Dion (#15), Shania Twain (#36), Sarah MacLauchlan (#46), and Anne Murray (#47) and Diana Krall all (#60) stir a great deal of pride in millions of Canadians.

• The late Stompin Tom Connors was 62nd on our overall list, but Justin Bieber who has sold far more records, was well below that level, at 78th. Among male singers, Leonard Cohen (20th), Gord Downie (31st), and Michael Buble (#32nd) all showed well.

• Actors Mike Myers (#34th) was the top actor among those we tested. William Shatner of Star Trek fame was 63rd on our list, with a result similar to that of Donald Sutherland (#61), who edged out his son Keifer Sutherland (#66) (but within the margin of error). Ryan Gosling at (#59) is ahead of Ryan Reynolds (#70)

• Author Margaret Atwood was 40th on our list, while author Conrad Black (former proprietor of the National Post and other newspapers) was 77th on our list.

Once again, there are some important differences by generation. Compared to older Canadians, those under 45 were MORE likely to say they derive a great deal of pride from:

• Mike Myers (14-points more likely)
• Ryan Gosling (11-points more likely)
• Sidney Crosby (7-points more likely)
• Drake (5-points more likely)

Those under 45 were LESS likely to say they derive a great deal of pride from:

• Anne Murray (15-points less likely)
• Gordie Howe (14-points less likely)
• Leonard Cohen (14-points less likely)
• Jean Beliveau (11-points less likely)
• Milos Raonic (11-points less likely)
• Wayne Gretzky (10-points less likely)

Feelings about Gord Downie, Eugenie Bouchard, William Shatner, or Celine Dion cross generational divides with about equal numbers saying the individuals make them feel really proud of Canada.

Our survey also found some noticeable gender differences. Women were MORE likely to say they derive a great deal of pride from:

• Actor Ryan Gosling (13-points more likely)
• Musician Sarah MacLauchlan (7-points more likely)
• Musician Leonard Cohen (6-points more likely)

Women were LESS likely to say they derive a great deal of pride from:

• Jean Beliveau (15-points less likely)
• Milos Raonic (15-points less likely)
• Sidney Crosby (15-points less likely)
• Retired NBA star Steve Nash (10-points less likely)
• Queen Elizabeth II (7-points less likely)

In Atlantic Canada, Terry Fox, Leonard Cohen, and Sidney Crosby top the list, with honourable mentions going to Gord Downie, David Suzuki, and Gordie Howe.

In Quebec, the top three people that respondents were most proud of were Celine Dion, Terry Fox, and Sidney Crosby with Leonard Cohen, David Suzuki, Mike Myers, and Gilles Vigneault getting honourable mention.

In Ontario, Terry Fox, Wayne Gretzky, and David Suzuki top the list with Celine Dion, Queen Elizabeth, Michael Buble, and Gordie Howe getting honourable mention.

In Western Canada, Terry Fox, Wayne Gretzky, and Gordie Howe top the list, with honourable mentions to Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, and Queen Elizabeth.

According to Bruce Anderson:

“The list of names we tested was by no means exhaustive and even as we looked at the results could come up with other names that likely would have scored well. Nonetheless, some points emerge from looking at these results.

First, it’s a pretty wide-ranging list. Our pride makers include writers, musicians, athletes, and actors. The list includes some who stand out for the ideals they represent as well as some who have great musical, artistic or athletic achievements and some who combine both.

There are regional, gender and generational differences, but they tend to be modest – suggesting that pride in the accomplishment of an individual Canadian can often transcend our personal tastes in music, or our interest in sport, or the era in which an individual enjoyed the peak of their prominence.”


Our survey was conducted online with 1,848 Canadians aged 18 and over from December 12 to 14, 2016. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of over 500,000 Canadians.

The Marketing Research and Intelligence Association policy limits statements about margins of sampling error for most online surveys. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of 1,848 is +/- 2.3%, 19 times out of 20.

The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


We offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail and value-added insight. Our team combines the experience of our Chairman Bruce Anderson, one of Canada’s leading research executives for two decades, with the energy, creativity and research expertise of CEO David Coletto, Ph.D.

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