As Canadians, we are super proud of our homegrown celebs. The Ryans, Celine Dion, Drake and Seth Rogen are some of our most important exports. We love and appreciate them, but we’d like to claim as many celebrities as possible, including ones that might not be explicitly Canadian.
And there are a lot of them. As it turns out, a whole host of our international friends have deep Canadian roots that go back generations. Whether it’s our delightful cottage country or our lucrative fried chicken market (we’ll explain in a minute), it seems like other countries just can’t get enough of the Great White North.
These non-Canadian celebrities have secret Canadian connections
Dwayne JohnsonThe Rock is probably one of the greatest human beings on the planet but did you know this man of steel is half Canadian? The Rock’s father, Rocky Johnson, was born in Amherst, N.S. and grew up in Toronto. Dwayne also spent two days on the Calgary Stampeders CFL team in 1995 before he was cut and sent home.Getty Images
Barbra StreisandBefore the 2016 American election, Babs said that she would be heading north if Donald Trump became president and she’s got a pretty interesting reason for feeling welcome here – she dated a former Prime Minister. And not just any PM, the father of the current one. That’s right, Barbra Streisand dated Pierre Elliot Trudeau and there is photographic evidence. Feast your eyes. Getty Images
John OliverThe comedian may be of British decent and make his living critiquing American politics, but he’s got some Canadian in him too. Or at least adjacent to him. Oliver revealed a few years ago that he has an aunt who lives in Canada and he actually attended Grade eight in the city of Kingston, ON. He also risked breaking Canadian election laws in 2015 when he appealed to Canadians to vote against Stephen Harper. Getty Images
Donald TrumpHe may enjoy taking swings at his neighbor to the north, but the Trump family has some pretty significant historical ties to Canada. One of POTUS’s grandfather’s first hotels was in northern Canada and it was through serving Gold Rush miners in the 1800s that he solidified the early Trump fortune. In a way, Trump has Canada to thank for his personal wealth.Getty Images
Hillary ClintonTrump’s opponent – and incredible woman – Hillary Rodham Clinton also has her own ties to our fair nation. Clinton has French-Canadian ancestry through her maternal grandmother. Not only can it be traced back to some of the first women sent to “New France” in the 1600s, it turns out Clinton is related to prominent Canadians like Justin Trudeau and Celine Dion. Getty Images
malalaMalala Yousafzai is world famous for her championing of female education in her home of Pakistan, but she could call Canada her home too if she wants. The Nobel Laureate became one of only six people ever to be given honourary Canadian citizenship in 2017. At that time, she also became the youngest person to ever address Canadian Parliament. Getty Images
Nelson MandelaSpeaking of activism and honourary citizenship, another one of those six honourary Canadians is the late Nelson Mandela. The former South African president and apartheid activist was given his Canadian citizenship in 2001 and was the first foreign leader to be awarded the Order of Canada in 1998. Canada was also one of his first foreign trips after he was freed from jail in South Africa in 1990. Getty Images
James BondBond, James Bond may be known as a super suave British operative, but many believe he’s actually based on a Canadian spy with a similar love for martinis. Sir William Stephenson, codename “Intrepid,” is known as one of the greatest spies of WWII and he was born right here in Winnipeg, Manitoba. While Bond author Ian Flemming has never confirmed who the iconic 007 was based on, the most oft cited inspiration is Stephenson and we’re inclined to believe it. Getty Images
Al CaponeSpeaking of historical figures, famed ‘20s gangster Al Capone has some secret Canadian ties as well. During the height of prohibition in the U.S., Capone’s operation ran rum through the Canadian Prairies and into the States. Decades later, it is rumoured that Capone spent some of his later years (after his stint in jail) at a secret cabin in Quadeville, ON about 150 km southwest of Ottawa. Getty Images
Kate MiddletonKate has the obvious royal connection to Canada through William, but she also has one of her own through the Middleton family. Her grandfather, Peter Middleton, was stationed in Calgary for Royal Air Force training during WWII and lived in Canada for more than two years before he was deployed to Kent in 1944. During their first trip to Canada as a married couple in 2011, Will and Kate visited the Calgary Aero Space Museum in honour of Kate’s late grandfather. Getty Images
Colonel SandersHe may have founded Kentucky Fried Chicken, but when the famous Colonel sold American operations in 1964, he retained the Canadian part of the business and lived in suburban Toronto for much of the ‘60s and ‘70s. He was also a prominent contributor to Canadian charities, including ones that treated childhood obesity and eating disorders – apparently the irony was not lost on him. Getty Images
Tom Hanks and Rita WilsonMuskoka has been called “The Malibu of the North” and a whole host of celebrities have gone in on the trend. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson reportedly bought their own cottage in Central Ontario after their friends Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn raved about the area. So keep your eyes open the next time you head up to the cottage; you just might catch Tom Hanks canoeing on your lake. Getty Images
Barack ObamaIt’s not just his Trudeau bromance that connects the former U.S. president to Canada, he also has a familial tie. In 2004, the whole Obama family travelled to Mississauga for the wedding celebration of his half-sister Maya Soetoro and Canadian academic Konrad Ng. He said at the time that the city of Toronto reminded him of his hometown of Chicago. We certainly wouldn’t be opposed if he decided he liked it enough to move here. Getty Images