7 Famous Canadians Who Went To Your University

Photo credit: George Pimentel/WireImage

Nina Dobrev – Ryerson University

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 “I read the ‘Twilight’ books before the movie and the whole craze happened…I was in love with Edward before every other girl that says she’s in love with him was.”

It’s safe to say that we’ve gotten over our collective obsession with vampires at least until the next craze. The vampire frenzy in pop culture was not limited to movies (Twilight, anyone?) but was also present in hastily published books and TV shows trying to capitalize on the success of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling series. One of those shows was The Vampire Diaries starring Ian Somerhalder and Toronto’s own Nina Dobrev. Those of you who attended Wexford Collegiate Institute may know a teacher who taught Dobrev while she went to high school there. After finishing at the performing arts school, Dobrev went on to study Sociology at Ryerson University before leaving to pursue her acting career.

Elon Musk – Queen’s University

Elon Musk

“I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact.”

Technically, this one may not count since it’s a little unclear what the current status of Musk’s Canadian citizenship is (but he’s staying on the list). Musk is a South African-born U.S. citizen, but before becoming an American he enjoyed Canadian citizenship through his mother. In fact, he capitalized on that when he came to Canada to study at Queen’s University before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania. He would go on to start the software company that would eventually become PayPal, make headlines as the CEO of Tesla Motors, and start a company with the ambitious goal of colonizing Mars by 2024.

Rachel McAdams – York University

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“I’m not an amazing cook, but I can follow a recipe!”

Most famous for her turn as Regina George in Mean Girls and the other half of Ryan Gosling in the widely adored film The Notebook, Rachel McAdams has definitely made an impression south of the border. Worried about her job prospects as an actress, McAdams originally intended to pursue a social science degree until an influential teacher encouraged her to pursue her dreams. She graduated from York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2001.

Donald Sutherland – University of Toronto

Donald Sutherland

“At my age, you sort of fart your way into a role.”

Donald Sutherland has enjoyed a long and successful career playing a number of interesting parts, but you may know him best for his role as villain President Snow in The Hunger Games movies. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978 and received a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000. Sutherland attended the University of Toronto where he earned degrees in engineering and drama. His family is also made up of notable Canadians. His son Kiefer Sutherland played Jack Bauer on the hit TV series 24 and his second wife, Shirley Douglas, is the daughter of Tommy Douglas, the “father” of Canada’s treasured universal healthcare system. The country chose Tommy Douglas as “The Greatest Canadian” in 2004.

Ruth B – MacEwan University

Ruth B

“I thought it was a prank. There is no way six different major labels are trying to reach out to me. But it was actually happening.”

Ruth Berhe, known by her stage name Ruth B, is a star on the rise who got her start singing songs on Vine. Last year, she signed a record deal with Columbia Records and recently released her first EP fittingly titled The Intro. Her song “Lost Boy” has been steadily rising the charts both for her talent and the track’s unusualness. The track was born from a single verse she posted on YouTube that quickly went viral. The singer explains that she was inspired to write the song by the popular ABC show “Once Upon A Time”. Berhe spent a year at MacEwan University in Alberta before leaving to focus on her burgeoning music career.

Ryan Reynolds – Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU)

2014 Canada's Walk Of Fame Awards

“I just love bikes. It’s not the safest passion to have, but I guess it’s better than Russian roulette.”

Hailing from that place Torontonians like to call “the part of Canada that’s more expensive to travel to than New York” Ryan Reynolds is a Vancouver boy who got his start on Canadian soap operas before making a name for himself in films like Just Friends, The Proposal, and Deadpool. Reynolds was voted “Sexiest Dad Alive” by People Magazine earlier this year. He attended Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia before dropping out to move to Los Angeles.

k-os – University of Ottawa & York University

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“I’m a fan of respecting where you’re from. Respecting your roots. I’m a fan of Canadian hip hop.”

Known for his thought-provoking lyrics and self-awareness, k-os is one of Canada’s most eclectic hip-hop artists. His music incorporates various styles and influences, and the star has made it clear that he isn’t afraid to experiment with his sound. Even those who are not familiar with k-os’ work are sure to recognize his 2004 hit “Crabbuckit”. k-os attended the University of Ottawa and York University.

Laugh while learning about the country’s politics in My Internship in Canada

Photo credit: Eye on Canada

Odds are that if a Torontonian tells you they love politics and you try to engage them in a discussion on Canadian politics they’ll reply that they were talking about international affairs.

Funny, eh? That national and local politics is considered boring even though they’re the most relevant to our everyday lives. It’s not that nothing happens here, but with the reality TV style politics south of the border it can be difficult to appreciate the subtle dramas and idiosyncrasies of our truth North strong and free.

That said, Canada is experiencing a surge in starpower with the global recognition of our performers, a freshly branded Toronto, and our new Prime Minister who has managed to send the international media into a frenzy over his looks. But on a more humble level, we have uniquely Canadian issues that are not only important and challenging, but interesting too. The intersection of local, national, and yes, even world politics was cleverly portrayed by Canadian writer and director Philippe Falardeau in his satirical film, My Internship in Canada (Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre).

Screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this past week, My Internship in Canada was one of several films featured in Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival. The festival celebrates some of the best movies to come out of the country, with people all over the city coming out to the theatre on King and John to appreciate Canadian filmmaking. The movie centres on Steve Guibord (Patrick Huard) a hockey player turned Member of Parliament in Quebec with a very large riding and a chronic fear of flying. He hires an intern, a Haitian national named Souverain Pascal (Irdens Exantus), with a stunningly comprehensive knowledge of Canadian politics and history, a penchant for quoting political philosophers, and a fierce belief in the power of democratic institutions. As Souverain says during his interview, Canadian politics is all about geography and this is emphasized in the movie as Guibord drives around his riding to fulfil his obligations to constituents.

The driving force of the film is an upcoming vote in Parliament regarding whether or not Canada should go to war. Guibord, an Independent MP, unexpectedly finds himself with the tie-breaking vote. In between his wife’s insistence that he vote yes and his pacifist daughter’s reminders that he would effectively be sending her generation to war, he takes the advice of Souverain to hold consultative meetings with his constituents in order to reflect their voice in his vote. This is further complicated by land disputes between the Algonquin population protesting the logging on their land and the truckers and miners who are concerned about the availability of jobs.

It’s a story that manages to fit a lot about Canadian politics into less than two hours. Everything from Canadian geography to uproar over jobs to First Nations land rights to the international francophone community is touched upon in this film. Overall, the film leaves you eager to brush up on your French and wishing you’d paid a little more attention in high school Civics.

Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival highlights Canadian films and was held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at King Street and John Street. It was held from January 8 – 17.