Exceptional Manitobans you should know about

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These five outstanding Canadians have gained international acclaim and are proud Manitobans. Get to know them and how they’ve made a permanent mark on their respective fields:


War time spy and inspiration for James Bond, Agent 007

Sir William Stephenson, code name Intrepid, was born in North Point Douglas, Winnipeg in 1897. He is the inspiration for James Bond (Agent 007), the world’s most famous fictitious spy. Stephenson was a fighter pilot, inventor, businessman, and master spy. Aside from earning several medals for bravery as a fighter pilot, he is also hailed as the inventor of the wirephoto and a radio facsimile machine. At the beginning of World War II, he headed the secret British Intelligence network throughout the western hemisphere. Because of extraordinary service to the war effort, he was knighted by King George VI in 1945.

Tommy Prince

Highly decorated Canadian war veteran

War hero, Thomas George Prince of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, was born in 1915 in Petersfield, Manitoba. During his amazing career, Prince was awarded a total of 11 medals for his service during the Second World War and the Korean War. He was known as a superb marksman and excellent tracker. He was also an avid activist for Indigenous rights. Sadly, despite his awards and honourable discharge from the army, he experienced discrimination when he returned to Canada. Prince died in Winnipeg. At his funeral, he was honoured by his First Nation, the Province of Manitoba, and the governments of France, Italy, and the United States.

Gabrielle Roy

Foremost modern novelist

This great contemporary writer of the human condition was born in Winnipeg in 1909. Gabrielle Roy won acclaim for her first major Canadian novel Bonheur d’occasion (The Tin Flute). This novel won various awards and has been translated to a dozen languages. She received the highest literary awards, and other honours, during her lifetime. Among these was the Governor General’s Award which she won in 1947, 1957, and 1978. She was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967.

Neil Young

Rock icon and ‘Grandfather of Grunge’

Legendary musician Neil Young was born in Toronto but moved to Winnipeg in his teens. His first performances were held in Manitoba and Northern Ontario. Young is an artist in the country, folk and rock genres. His career spans decades, with hit songs known for poetic imagery and an activist conscience. He has won countless Junos and Grammy Awards. Neil Young was inducted into the Juno awards Hall of Fame in 1982 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. He was named an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2009.

Cindy Klassen

Canada’s Greatest Olympian

Winnipeg-born long track speed skater Cindy Klassen is a three-time Olympian and six-time Olympic medalist. She earned the title “Canada’s Greatest Olympian” when she became Canada’s most decorated Olympic athlete at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy. Klassen won gold in the 1500m, silver in the 100m and team pursuit, and bronze in the 300m and 500m – the first Canadian athlete and first female speed skater ever to win five medals in a single Olympic Games. Klassen previously won a bronze medal in the 300m in her Olympic debut at Salt Lake City in 2002.

Want to know more amazing Manitobans? Read 16 outstanding Manitobans who will make you proud.

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