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Saskatchewan's Own 2

by Dave Yanko

With a population of only a million people, Saskatchewan has produced a surprising number of famous or accomplished individuals. Here's our second list of 25 people who were born in the province (or who spent a significant piece of their time here), and their achievements, or claims to fame (page updated 2012).

Arthur Hill (1922-2006) An actor born in Melfort, Sask., Hill won a Tony in 1963 for his performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. He had major roles in the movies Andromeda Strain and Futureworld, and he starred in the television series Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law.

Henry Taube (1915-2005) Born in Neudorf, Ssak., Taube received a 1983 Nobel prize in chemistry for his research into the properties and reactions of dissolved inorganic substances. He received an undergraduate degree at the University of Saskatchewan before pursuing his education and career in the United States. He's currently at Stanford University in California. Taube has received numerous awards and honors, including the Linus Pauling Award in 1981.

Ethel Catherwood
Ethel Catherwood

Ethel Catherwood (1908-1987) Catherwood, of Saskatoon, won gold in the women's high jump at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Nicknamed "The Saskatoon Lily", The New York Times apparently called her the "prettiest girl athlete" at the games. In spite of efforts by some, including Canada, to exclude women from competing at the Olympics, Amsterdam marked the first time women received the status of official Olympic competitors. Canada's six-woman team won two golds, two silvers and a bronze.

John Vickers.

Jon Vickers (1926- ) The operatic tenor - arguably the greatest singer Canada ever produced, according to Toronto Star opera writer William Littler - was born in Prince Albert, Sask. Enigmatic and difficult at times, Vickers performed at Bayreuth and The Met. He is best known for Britten's Peter Grimes and Verdi's Otello. Vickers has retired.

Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010) The actor of Naked Gun and Airplane! fame was born in Regina and raised in Tulita, formerly Fort Norman, in the Northwest Territories. Nielsen, first a dramatic actor, played Frank Drebin on the television comedy series Police Squad, which spawned The Naked Gun (and its two sequels) and a new career for Nielsen as a comedic actor. He is the son of a Mountie and the brother of Erik Nielsen, who would become a deputy prime minister of Canada.

John Vernon.

John Vernon (1932-2005) Character actor born Adolphus Vernon Agopsowicz, at Zehner, Sask., near Regina. Vernon was perhaps best known to one generation as Dean Vernon Wormer in National Lampoon's Animal House, and to another as the star of the Canadian television series Wojeck. He appeared with Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry and The Outlaw Josey Wales. He also appeared in Topaz, Ernest Goes to Camp, Nobody Waved Goodbye, and Point Blank. Vernon, who had booming pipes, also did the voice of Big Brother in the British film version of George Orwell's 1984.

Sharon Butala.

Sharon Butala (1940- ) Butala, a writer known for her fascinating explorations of land, spirit and people, was born at Nipawin, Sask. She was twice short-listed for the prestigious Governor-General's Award. The Perfection of the Morning, short-listed in the non-fiction category, reached No. 1 on the bestseller list, while Queen of Headaches was up for the fiction award. Butala, called "one of Canada's true visionaries", currently lives in Eastend, Sask.

Wendel Clark (1966- ) Hockey great Clark was born in Kelvington, Sask. A left winger revered in Toronto for a decade after being drafted by the Maple Leafs in 1985, Clark was named captain of the team in 1991. He scored 46 goals in the 1994-95 season before being traded to the Quebec Nordique. He was twice traded back to the Leafs. When he retired in 1999, he had 330 career goals and 234 assists.

Jeanne Sauve (1922-1993). Mme. Sauve was the first female Governor General of Canada, serving in that post from 1984 to 1990. And although her list of "firsts" included being the first female cabinet member from Quebec, she was born in Prud'homme, Sask. She was also the first woman elected Speaker of the House of Commons. Sauve was a journalist with the CBC for 20 years prior to her 1972 election as a Liberal MP for Montreal.

Brent Butt.

Brent Butt (1966- ) Saskatchewan comic Butt is drawing laughs from Vancouver to Toronto, and from New York to Los Angeles. Much of his early humour focused on life in his hometown of Tisdale, Saskatchewan (pop: 3,000), compared to life in the Big City. He's best known for his role as Brent Leroy in the Canadian TV comedy hit Corner Gas, which ran for six years on the CTV network in Canada and in syndication in numerous other countries.

Dave King (1948- ) King, from North Battleford, was the first coach of the National Hockey League expansion team Columbus Blue Jackets. Considered one the world's greatest hockey minds, King has served as a head coach in university hockey, the NHL, Olympic men's hockey and the Russian Super League. He was named to the Order of Canada in 1992.

Clarence Campbell (1905-1984). Campbell, National Hockey League president for more than three decades (1946-1977), was born in Fleming, Sask. While the league tripled in size to 18 teams during his governance, he might be best remembered for the riot he provoked on the streets of Montreal when he suspended Canadiens' superstar Maurice "Rocket" Richard from the 1955 playoffs.

Len Thompson.

Len Thompson (1896-1979). If you've done some freshwater fishing in North America you've likely heard of - maybe even used - Thompson's legendary "five of diamonds" or "red and white" lures. Thompson was a World War I veteran and a farmer who in 1929 started a fishing lure manufacturing plant in his home town of Abernethy, Sask. He moved the plant to Lacombe, Alta., in 1958. The company has produced about 30 million lures.

Keith Morrison (1947- ) A journalist born in Lloydminster, Sask., Morrison received a history degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1966. He was a news anchor and correspondent with CTV and CBC national networks in Canada. In 1988, he became an NBC news correspondent based in Los Angeles and he covered student uprisings in Beijing in May and June, 1989. Morrison is stepfather to actor Matthew Perry through his marriage to Suzanne Perry Morrison, former press secretary to the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

Bryan Trottier (1956- ) Trottier, considered one of the best "two-way" centres in hockey history, led the New York Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from '80 to '83. Born in Val Marie, Sask., he was rookie of the year in 1976, scoring champ and MVP in 1979, and he won two more cups with Pittsburg in 1991 and '92.

Allan Sapp

Allan Sapp (1929- ) World-renowned, Plains Cree artist Sapp paints from recollections of growing up on the Red Pheasant Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan. Sapp's friendship with, and encouragement from, the late Dr. Allan Gonor is reflected in the fact Sapp's North Battleford gallery includes The Gonor Collection of Sapp works.

Sid Abel (1918-2000) Abel, of Melville, was the first NHL hockey player to receive all-star status at two positions: centre and left wing. But it was at centre, flanked by Detroit Red Wing linemates Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay, that Abel earned his stripes as a great play-maker on the famous "Production Line.'' In 1950, Lindsay, Abel and Howe (also from Saskatchewan) finished 1, 2 and 3 in the scoring race and their team won the Stanley Cup. Abel later coached the Wings and the St. Louis Blues.

Johnny Bower (1924- ) Johnny "The China Wall" Bower was one of the most remarkable goalies in NHL history. After bouncing around the minors for 14 years, this native of Prince Albert, Sask., finally made the Toronto Maple Leafs at age 34. He went on play 11 seasons with the team, winning four Stanley Cups, sharing the Vezina trophy for best goalie in the league in 1965 and being named to the all-star team five times.

Eddie Shore (1902-1985) Shore, born in Fort Qu'Appelle, was the first in what became a tradition of great Boston Bruin defensemen like Brad Park and Bobby Orr. During a 14-year career with the Bruins that ended in 1940, Shore was an all-star eight times and MVP four times. With his hard-hitting style and legendary exploits on and off the ice, he was the star used by the league to "sell" hockey to American fans after expansion into the U.S. in 1926-27.

Terry Puhl (1956- ) Melville native Puhl earned stardom as one of the best defensive players in the history of professional baseball. In 14 seasons with the Houston Astros (1977-1990), Puhl made only 18 fielding errors in 2,596 chances, the best-ever average of any outfielder in the bigs. He could be prolific at bat, too. He set a National League championship series record in 1980 when he hit .526 against the Phillies in a losing cause.

Gordon Thiessen.

Gordon Thiessen (1938- ) Thiessen's seven-year term as Canada's chief banker and monetary policy maker (Governor of The Bank of Canada) ended in January, 2001. Born in small-town Ontario, he grew up in a number of Saskatchewan towns and graduated from high school in Moosomin, Sask. Thiessen worked with a chartered bank and earned two university degrees in the province before receiving his Ph.D. in economics at the London School of Economics in 1972.

Gerald Bouey.

Gerald K. Bouey (1920-2004) Bouey served two, seven-year terms as Governor of the Bank of Canada, from 1973 to 1987. By the year 2000, he and Thiessen were among only six people appointed to the prestigious position since it was established in 1934. Born in Axford, Sask., Bouey attended Queen's University where he received the Economics Medal. He was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 1987. He died in Ottawa at age 83.

Will James (1892-1942) Some say cowboy novelist and artist James created the myth of the western cowboy. But while America adopted him as her own, he was actually born Joseph Ernest Nephtali Dufault in Quebec and lived in Val Marie, Sask., for a period of time. Hollywood loved James, turning many of his novels into movies, including 1971's Shootout, starring Gregory Peck.

Archie Belaney (1888-1938) Belaney, who gained world renown in the 1930s as the "Indian" conservationist and nature writer Grey Owl, was actually an Englishman born in Hastings. His last and most productive eight years were spent living in a log cabin in Saskatchewan's Prince Albert National Park. His books include Tales of an Empty Cabin and The Adventures of Sajo and her Beaver People. His life was the subject of the 1999 movie Grey Owl, starring Pierce Brosnan.

Dr. Humphry Osmond (1917-2004) Osmond is a British-born research psychiatrist who in 1957 coined the term "psychedelic'' while using LSD to treat alcoholics in Weyburn, Sask. In 1963, he moved to the U.S. to work at Princeton with noted psychiatrist Bernard Aaronson. Osmond came up with the famous word in a letter to his friend, British author Aldous Huxley.

Saskatchewan's Own 1
Saskatchewan's Own 3

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