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Saskatchewan's Own 3

by Dave Yanko

Joni Mitchell, Leslie Nielsen, Pamela Wallin, Gordie Howe, Art Linkletter, Catriona Le May Doan . . . many of the "most famous" Saskatchewanians are noted in our earlier articles "Saskatchewan's Own" and "Saskatchewan's Own 2" (page updated 2012).

In this third instalment, Virtual Saskatchewan pays tribute to an additional 25 Saskatchewanians who made their mark, be it in sport, the arts, business, entertainment or politics. Thank you to readers who suggested many of the people below. Hit "comment'' at the bottom to suggest more.

The Poppy Family
Susan and Terry Jacks, better known as The Poppy Family.

Susan Jacks (1948 -) Born Susan Pesklevits in Saskatoon, Jacks was one-half of the duo The Poppy Family, which had a number of hits in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Where Evil Grows, That's Where I Went Wrong and Which Way You Goin' Billy? The latter tune reached No. 1 in Canada, No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard chart and sold 2.5 million copies worldwide. Jacks eventually left her husband Terry (Seasons in the Sun) and set off on a solo career. After marrying and having a son with former Saskatchewan Roughrider Ted Dushinksi, she moved with her family to Nashville where she worked in business and the music industry until returning to Canada in 2004. Dushinski died of lung cancer in 2005 and Jacks received a kidney transplant in 2010—the organ was donated by her brother Billy, subject of the song. She now lives in British Columbia where she continues to work in the music industry.

Reuben Mayes (1963- ) Mayes is one of the most unlikely stories in football. After a stellar stint as a North Battleford high school player, Mayes starred as a running back at Washington State University and stirred football fans across North America in an extraordinary debut season with the NFL's New Orleans Saints. He was NFL offensive rookie of year in 1986. As an All-American at WSU, Mayes set single season and career-rushing records (1,632; 3,519) with the Cougars and still holds a PAC-10 record of 357 yards in one game! In a pro career hampered by injuries, he was a Pro Bowl-er who played seven years with the Saints. Mayes, without benefits afforded promising young players in the U.S., excelled in a skill position among the best-trained football players in the world. He was inducted into the US College Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

Sinclair Ross
- courtesy SK Arts Board
Sinclair Ross.

Sinclair Ross (1908-1996) Ross, born on a farm near Shellbrook, wrote the classic Canadian novel As for Me and My House. Appreciation of his work did not arrive until late in his life. For Ross, writing was an avocation; he worked for 40 years at the Royal Bank and his great novel about the bitter depression years on the Prairies was published in the U.S. seven years before a Canadian publisher accepted it. Many among succeeding generations of Prairie writers credit Ross as a groundbreaker and a strong influence.

Elizabeth Dowdeswell (unavailable) Dowdeswell, a leading international figure in environmental advocacy, is a former (and first woman) Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme who served concurrently as Under Secretary General of the United Nations. Born in Ireland, she moved with her family to Saskatchewan in 1947 and attended school in Sceptre, Young, Strasbourg and Briercrest before attending the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. Before her U.N. roles, Dowdeswell worked for the Saskatchewan and Canadian governments. She is now a consultant.

"Jungle" Jim Hunter (1952- ) With fellow downhill skiers Steve Podborsky, Dave Irwin and Ken Read, Hunter was one of the original "Crazy Canucks", reckless in style with winning results. Born in Shaunavon, Hunter won bronze at the 1972 winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. Today, he is a motivational speaker based in Calgary. He was in charge of the highly successful national torch relay for the 1988 Olympics in that city.

Glenn Hall (1931- ) Hall, ice hockey's "Mr. Goalie", invented (or at least popularized - there's some debate) the "butterfly" style of goaltending. Born in Humboldt, Hall played for Detroit, Chicago and St. Louis in a career than ran from 1955 to 1971. A Calder Cup and Con Smythe trophy winner and a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy for hockey's best goalie, Hall was an all-star 11 times and played a record 502 consecutive games. He ended his career with a 2.51 goals-against average.

Harry Jerome
- CA Sports Hall of Fame
Jerome, the fastest man in the world for eight years.

Harry Jerome (1940-1982) For seven years and 11 months leading up to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Jerome, a native of Prince Albert, was the fastest man in the world. His world record time of 10.0 seconds in the 100m sprints was broken by American Jim Hines. As a scholarship athlete at the University of Oregon, he shared the world record for the hundred-yard dash and the 440-yard relay, as well. Jerome won a bronze at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo in spite of competing with an injured hamstring.

Anne Szumigalski (1922-1999) Szumigalski, winner of the 1995 Governor General's Award for Poetry, was born in London, England. However, as co-founder of the Saskatchewan Writers Guild and the literary journal Grain, Szumagalski influenced a generation of writers from Saskatchewan and beyond. While primarily interested in poetry, Szumagalski wrote fiction and drama, as well. Hear her read from her award-winning book of poetry Voice (courtesy National Library of Canada, ~4 mins., RealAudio).

Athol Murray
- courtesy Notre Dame college
"Pere" Athol Murray.

Athol Murray (1892-1975) "Pere", as he was affectionately known, was an ordained priest from Ontario who brought fame to Notre Dame College at Wilcox after arriving in 1927. The school's rigorous academic program focused on the classics and emphasized high ideals, determination, leadership and spirituality. The storied Notre Dame Hounds hockey program, meanwhile, graduated more than 100 players to the NHL, including Rod Brind'Amour, Wendel Clark and Curtis Joseph. Pere was awarded the Order of Canada and inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Notre Dame was renamed Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in 1981.

Max (and Doug) Bentley (1920-1984) The diminutive "Dipsy Doodle Dandy" from Delisle in 1946 won the NHL scoring crown and the Hart Trophy as league MVP while playing centre for the Chicago Black Hawks. Playing with his brother Doug and Bill Mosienko on the famous Pony Line, Bentley won the scoring title again in '47, beating out Rocket Richard by one point. After stints with the Hawks from 1940-43 and 1945-47 (the break was two years of war duty), Bentley landed in Toronto, where he helped the Leafs win the 1948 Stanley Cup. He was inducted into hockey's hall of fame in 1966. Line mates Doug and Mosienko were inducted, as well.

Sylvia Fedoruk
- courtesy Gov't of SK
Sylvia Fedoruk.

Sylvia Fedoruk (1927- ) The former chief medical physicist for the Saskatchewan Cancer Foundation was involved in the development of the Cobalt 60 treatment unit and the first nuclear scanning machines. An avid sportswoman and member of a Canadian women's champion curling team, she was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in 1986. Fedoruk, who was born in Canora, served as Chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan from 1986-89. She was the first woman lieutenant-governor of Saskatchewan, serving from 1988 to 1994.

Alistair MacLeod
- University of Windsor
Alistair MacLeod.

Alistair MacLeod (1936-2014) Born in North Battleford, author MacLeod spent 10 years in Saskatchewan before moving with his family to a farm in Cape Breton. Winner in 2001 of the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel No Great Mischief, MacLeod was Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, in Ontario. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

Jeremy Wotherspoon (1976- ) Wotherspoon, born in Humboldt, was the best 500m and 1000m (long track) speed skating male in the world leading up to the 2002 winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. He missed a medal in the 1000 and a slip likely cost him one in the 500. Wotherspoon had won silver at the Nagano Olympics in 1998, three world titles in the 500 metre and 67 world cup victories -- more than anyone else -- by the time he retired in 2010.

Grant MacEwan (1902-2000) An agriculturist, historian and politician, MacEwan was not born in Saskatchewan but spent significant portions of his life in the province, first, as a student in Melfort, and later, as Professor of Animal Husbandry and Director of the School of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon (1928-46). For more than half a century, MacEwan wrote agricultural and popular history books about the Prairies. From 1953 to 1965, he served as an alderman and then mayor of Calgary. He spent two years as leader of the Liberal Party of Alberta and served two consecutive appointments as the province's lieutenant-governor (1966-74).

Ray Hnatyshyn
- Gov't of Canada
Rt. Hon. Ray Hnatyshyn.

Ray Hnatyshyn (1934-2002) Ramon John Hnatyshyn, born in Saskatoon, was governor general of Canada from 1990 to 1995. Hnatyshyn studied law in Saskatoon and he was first elected to the House of Commons in 1974, eventually serving in a number of ministerial posts in Progressive Conservative governments. In 1989, he received the St. Volodymyr Medal from the World Congress of Ukrainians for his "outstanding contributions to the cause of justice and civil liberties."

Theoren Fleury (1968- ) Small but mighty, Fleury was a perennial all-star hockey player. Born in Oxbow, Sask., he was the first NHL player to score three short-handed goals in the same game. Fleury starred with the Calgary Flames for 10 seasons, helping the team win the 1988-89 Stanley Cup during his first (though partial) season. After a brief stint with the Colorado Avalanche, he signed with the New York Rangers in 1999, where he added to his impressive career statistics that include more than 400 goals and 1,000 points. Fleury logged a starring performance for the Canadian men's hockey team in its 2002 gold-medal win at the Salt Lake City Olympics. After his courageous 2009 autobiography Playing with Fire discussed his sexual abuse by a former coach, Fleury became an advocate for fellow victims.

Max Braithwaite (1912-1995) Author Braithwaite wrote many books about life on the Prairies. However, he was best known for two. Why Shoot the Teacher?, part of a trilogy about teaching in Saskatchewan during the Depression, was made into a 1977 movie starring Bud Cort and Samantha Eggar. The Night We Stole the Mountie's Car, meanwhile, was 1972 winner of the Stephen Leacock Award for humour. Braithwaite, born in Nokomis, moved to Toronto during World War II.

Lorna Crozier
- Booming Ground
Lorna Crozier.

Lorna Crozier (1948- ) Born in Swift Current, this former high school English teacher won the 1992 Governor General's Award for Poetry for a collection of poems entitled Inventing the Hawk. Both The Garden Going on Without Us and Angels of Flesh, Angels of Silence were nominated for the same, prestigious award. She once told a weekly magazine in Calgary: "It fascinates me how much you can say with an image, a metaphor, a piece of metonymy, how much you can say by saying almost nothing.'' Crozier now chairs the writing department at the University of Victoria in Victoria, BC.

Ron Lancaster (1938-2008) He was born in Fairchance, PA. But anyone who believes this former star quarterback was anything but a Saskatchewan boy better get ready to argue with the million people who adopted him. Lancaster's memorable 16-season career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders culminated in a 1966 Grey Cup championship, the first for the team. The "Little General" generated a slew of records that are still being chased and, occasionally, broken. He was named to the CFL Hall of Fame in 1982. After hanging up his cleats, the two-time MVP distinquished himself as a football commentator, a CFL coach (twice winning coach of the year) and a team administrator. At the time of his death in 2008, he was Senior Director of Football Operations for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

George Reed (1939- ) When asked about his leisurely stroll back the huddle after each running play, Reed is said to have quipped: "They don't pay me to return to the huddle." He was right: The greatest fullback in the history of the CFL earned his paycheque going the other way. Hard. Reed, from Renton, WA, played 13 seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and ran for more than 1,000 yards in 11 of them, including six in a row beginning in 1964. He was the league's leading rusher nine times and a formidable weapon for his friend and all-star quarterback Ron Lancaster. Reed was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1979. He served two stints as president of the CFL Players Association and returned to work in Saskatchewan as a corporate host in 2008.

Hayley Wickenheiser (1978- ) Born in Shaunavon, hockey player Wickenheiser was a leader in the Canadian women's gold medal victory over the American team at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Judged by Sports Illustrated for Women the best female hockey player in the world, Wickenheiser played with boy's and men's teams to improve her skills. She won numerous awards and medals since joining the women's national team at age 15, and she's an Olympic class softball player, to boot. In fact, she was only the second Canadian to participate in both summer and winter Olympics.

Wallace Stegner
- courtesy State of Utah
Wallace Stegner.

Wallace Stegner (1909-1993) Sometimes called "the dean and mentor of western American writers", this Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner lived with his family in Eastend between 1916 and 1921. Among writers he later taught in the literature department he created at Stanford University are Edward Abbey, Wendell Berry, Thomas McGuane, Ken Kesey and Larry McMurtry. Wolf Willow is based on Stegner's reminiscences of life growing up in southwestern Saskatchewan. The Stegner family home in Eastend is now an artist's retreat.

Seager Wheeler (1868-1961) Born in England, Wheeler became, perhaps, the best known farmer in western Canada. His agricultural operation was a model for dry-land farming and progressive techniques. He won prizes at international wheat judging events, wrote on subjects agricultural, invented farm implements, and, apparently in his spare time, developed new varieties of grain. The rich soil at his Rosthern-district farm, now an historic site featuring period farming demonstrations and information, is evidence of his abiding belief agricultural land must be left "in better condition than when it came under our hands."

Allan R. Taylor (1932- ) Taylor, born in Prince Albert, was chairman and chief executive officer of the Royal Bank of Canada from the 1986 to 1994 and chairman until 1995. He began working at the bank in 1949, in Prince Albert. Among his many interests and appointments, Taylor served as a director of Canadian Pacific Limited from 1986 until 2001 and remains a director of General Motors of Canada Limited. He was chairman of the Canadian Bankers Association from 1984-86. Taylor, who now lives in Toronto, was appointed officer of the Order of Canada in 1993. He was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame in 2006.

Agnes Martin
- Harwood Museum of Art
Agnes Martin.

Agnes Martin (1912-2004) Abstract artist Martin was born in Macklin but moved to the U.S. in 1931. Considered "one of the most important figures in postwar American art", according to at least one arts writer, Martin, even at 90, painted daily at her home near Taos, New Mexico. Critics said her paintings evoke a meditative mood, reflecting the Zen Buddhism and Taoism she studied during in her formative New York years. Martin's paintings have been displayed in major galleries around the world, including New York City's Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art.

Saskatchewan's Own 1
Saskatchewan's Own 2

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