We may not always remember this fact, but Canada boasts a fair amount of famous celebrities. No longer the awkward cousin of the United States, Canada is now a cultural force to be reckoned with thanks to the many stars that call our nation home. And more than a few of them are Montrealers, too.
Now, we all know that Celine Dion, William Shatner, and Régine Chassagne are native Montrealers who achieved stardom, but there are a fair amount more who aren't quite as formally linked to the city.
Since we're all about showcasing the awesomeness that is Montreal, we decided we'd remind you of some of the celebrities who hail from the city in our list of ten famous Canadians who are also Montrealers.
If you were a tween in Canada during the early 2000s, then you definitely went through a Simple Plan phase. And if not, you surely had one of their songs stuck in your head at some point, because the band was pretty huge in Canada and across the borders. But never forget that Simple Plan got its start in Montreal, with all of the band's members (Pierre Bouvier, Chuck Comeau, Jeff Stinco, Sébastien Lefebvre, David Desrosiers) born and raised in the city.
This actually took me by total surprise: heartthrob pop-starlet Corey Hart, the man behind "Sunglasses at Night," is a Montrealer. Heck, I didn't even know Hart was Canadian, let alone from the city. A mega-celeb in the 80s, Corey Hart might predate some of y'all reading, but you've no doubt heard some of his songs or seen some passing cultural reference about him on Family Guy. Needless to say, as a singer that can boast more than 16 million record sales around the world, Hart is definitely a Canadian celebrity.
Bursting onto the international music scene in the last few years, and earning a name for himself as one of the best mixers in the world, Tiga is one of Canada's most esteemed musical exports. And while Tiga can be heard around the world now, his musical roots lie right here in Montreal where he first made a name for himself as a DJ in the late 90s. Tiga even founded his own record label here in Montreal, Turbo Recordings, which has launched musical acts like Chromeo onto success.
The work of Norma Shearer predates most of us, but this actress was a major star in the 1920s to 40s. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Shearer was known to portray strong, sexually liberated female characters (and period pieces), starring in iconic roles like Juliet Capulet and Marie Marie Antoinette, among many others. And her work was definitely recognized for its greatness, having been nominated for Best Actress six times and winning the Oscar once. Born and raised in Montreal, Shearer is still regarded as a film legend today.
Sacha Dean Biyan
You may not know Sacha Dean Biyan by name, but you've definitely seen his work, as the aeronautical engineer-turned-fashion-photographer has shot for major publications such as GQ, Vogue and Marie Claire, and has been a featured artist at exhibitions around the globe. Not limited to photography, Biyan has also branched out into anthropology, releasing two artistic publications documenting the lives of various indeginous populations. But while Biyan may be a Manhattanite right now (and has been for a while), the renowned photographer is originally from Montreal. He was even a DJ in the city, which is the most Montreal thing you can really do.
P.S. That's a sample of Biyan's work above, not the photographer himself, in case you got confused.
Scott Abbott & Chris Haney
Ever hear of the board game Trivial Pursuit? Of course you have, because the game is mega-popular across North America, with countless incarnations from Trivial Pursuit: The Beatles Collection to a Disney animated films-focused version.
Far less know, however, that Trivial Pursuit was invented by two Montrealers, namely Chris Haney and Scott Abbott. Abbott and Haney, the former a photo editor for the Gazette and the latter a sports editor for The Canadian Press, were inspired to create their own board game after losing pieces of their Scrabble game. With a little bit of help, the duo then released the first version of Trivial Pursuit in 1982, and the rest is board game history.
Few CBC series have been quite as big a success as Murdoch Mysteries. Telling the tales of a detective working in Toronto circa 1895, Murdoch Mysteries regularly pulls in over a million viewers and is already on its 9th season. The series' lead, Yannick Bisson, has surely contributed to the success of the program, and while Bisson may have moved to Toronto like his character, the actor is originally a Montrealer. Of course, you may not have any clue who Yannick Bisson is or never seen Murdoch Mysteries, but just rest easy knowing that one of Canada's most popular series has a Montrealer as the lead.
Another famous Canadian-who's-also-a-Montrealer you may not know by name, René Balcer's work is more than familiar to you and folks across North America. So what's his claim to fame? Well, Balcer is the showrunner, executive producer, and writer for the incredibly popular and long-running TV series Law & Order. Critically acclaimed and boasting an impressive 20 seasons, Law & Order is a television institution that spawned many spinoffs, including Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which Balcer also created. Balcer's Law & Order legacy continues today, as he continues to work on Law & Order: UK, and has also worked on countless other high-profile TV productions.
Everyone's favourite sexy Scotsman (or is that Spartan?) Gerard Butler is also a Montrealer...well, at least he was for a time, kind of. See, when Butler was a wee baby of about six months of age, his parents moved to our fair city, bringing their son with them. But the marriage wouldn't last, and about a year and some change later, Butler's mother took him back to Scotland.
So yes, it's a bit of a stretch to say Gerard Butler is "from" Montreal, but he did spend more than a year as a baby in the city, which is a very formative time for a child. And since babies are sponges of information, Butler no doubt took in the essence of the city. That's our reasoning behind naming Butler an honorary Montrealer, so just go with it.
Bonus: Justin Trudeau
Like we could include a list of famous Canadians and not include Justin Trudeau. Pretty much the poster boy for Canada (aka the Prime Minister, but it's basically the same thing), Justin did live in Ottawa for a fair chunk of his early years, but eventually moved to Montreal when he was thirteen. Justin spent the rest of his formative years in the city (barring a brief stint at UBC) and the rest is pretty much history.
And since we all know Justin is a Montrealer at heart, we're listing him off as a "bonus" in this list, just in case you wanted to call us out for the false listicle-numbering.