Famous 20th Century Canadian Writers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
22
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Canada

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

 2 Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell
5
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: September 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fareham, Hampshire, England
Malcolm Gladwell is best known for his bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. He has also written for The New Yorker and The Washington Post. His writings encompass subjects such as psychology, economics, and sociology. Gladwell has also co-founded a podcast company and hosts the podcast Revisionist History.

 3 William Gibson

William Gibson
6
Famous As: Fiction Writer
Birthdate: March 17, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Conway, South Carolina, United States

William Gibson is an American-Canadian essayist and speculative fiction writer. He is widely credited with pioneering cyberpunk, a science fiction subgenre. His early works, which he produced during the late-1970s and early-1980s, helped create an iconography for the information age even before the dawn of the Internet in the 1990s. William Gibson is also credited with coining the term cyberspace.

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 4 Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: May 4, 1916
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: April 25, 2006

American-Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs is best known for her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. A specialist in urban culture and its issues, she was one of the few women who excelled in a male-dominated field. The Vincent Scully Prize winner was initially scorned at as a housewife.

 5 Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 10, 1915
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lachine, Montreal, Canada
Died: April 5, 2005

 6 Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: May 5, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein is known for her criticism of corporate globalization and capitalism. She became internationally known following the release of her alter-globalization book No Logo. She often appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers and is the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize. She is a prominent environmentalist as well.

 7 Denis Villeneuve

Denis Villeneuve
4
Famous As: Film Director, Screenwriter, Playwright
Birthdate: October 3, 1967
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada

Known for directing critically acclaimed movies, such as Arrival and Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve was adjudged Filmmaker of the Decade in 2019 by the Hollywood Critics Association. One of the most popular and respected filmmakers of the current generation, Denis Villeneuve's films have had a major impact all over the world.

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 8 John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: October 15, 1908
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Iona Station, Canada
Died: April 29, 2006

John Kenneth Galbraith was an intellectual, diplomat, economist, and public official. One of the most influential exponents of 20th-century American liberalism, Galbraith published many books concerning the American economy. Galbraith is one of the few individuals to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Medal of Freedom. He also received 50 honorary degrees from various institutions.

 9 Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer
7
Famous As: Columnist
Birthdate: March 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: June 21, 2018

Best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning column in The Washington Post, Fox News commentator and political expert Charles Krauthammer was also a qualified psychiatrist. He was rendered paralyzed from the waist down at 22, after an accident while studying medicine at Harvard, but completed his degree nevertheless.

 10 Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 30, 1874
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New London, Canada
Died: April 24, 1942
Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery is best remembered for her iconic novel Anne of Green Gables and its sequels. She had also authored countless short stories, poems, and essays. Most of her novels are set in her native Prince Edward Island. She was honored with the OBE.

 11 Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker
4
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: September 18, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada

Steven Pinker is a Canadian-American linguist, cognitive psychologist, and popular science author. He is also a supporter of the computational theory of mind and evolutionary psychology. His works have earned him awards from organizations like the National Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the American Humanist Association. In 2013, he was named in Prospect magazine's World Thinkers list.

 12 Dave Foley

Dave Foley
4
Famous As: Actor, Stand-up Comedian
Birthdate: January 4, 1963
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

A high-school dropout, Dave Foley started his career with stand-up comedy. After meeting Kevin McDonald, he formed the iconic sketch-comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall with him and others. He later appeared in movies such as The Wrong Guy and voiced for animated characters, such as Flik from A Bug's Life.

 13 Gavin McInnes

Gavin McInnes
9
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 17, 1970
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England

Described as a far-right, writer and political commentator Gavin McInnes is said to be anti-Islam, anti-Semitism and a racist. He has also been accused of inciting violence. He is the founder of ‘Proud Boys’, dubbed an extremist group with links to white nationalism. In 2018, he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for promoting hate speech.

 14 Paul Shaffer

Paul Shaffer
5
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: November 28, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Best known as the band leader in Late Night with David Letterman and the Late Show with David Letterman, Paul Shaffer is a Grammy Award-winning Canadian multi-instrumentalist and singer. He co-wrote the 1980s’ hit It's Raining Men sung by the Weather Girls and later revived by Geri Halliwell.

 15 Andrea Martin

Andrea Martin
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, USA

American-Canadian actor Andrea Martin is best known for her roles in movies such as My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She has also won Tony and Drama Desk awards for her performances in plays such as My Favorite Year and Pippin. Her one-woman show Nude, Nude, Totally Nude was a hit.

 16 Chrystia Freeland

Chrystia Freeland
5
Famous As: Deputy Prime Minister of Canada
Birthdate: August 2, 1968
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Peace River, Alberta, Canada
Known as the Minister of Everything, Christina Freeland is Canada’s 10th deputy prime minister. She is also Canada’s finance minister and the first woman to hold the office. She has previously worked with the Financial Times, Thomson Reuters, and The Globe and Mail. She has also authored a bestselling book. 

 17 David Brooks

David Brooks
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: August 11, 1961
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Toronto

David Brooks is a Canadian-born American conservative political commentator. Having worked with popular publications like The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, and Newsweek, Brooks is currently contributing as a writer for The New York Times. Also an educator, David Brooks has taught at prestigious institutions like the Sanford School of Public Policy and Yale University.

 18 Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels
5
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 26, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Six Nations Reservation, Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Died: March 5, 1980

Indigenous Canadian actor Jay Silverheels gained international popularity for playing Tonto, the Native American companion of the protagonist in the American western TV series The Lone Ranger. As a young man, he excelled in athletics and became a lacrosse player. He later quit sports to pursue acting. He bred and raced Standardbred horses as a hobby. 

 19 Alice Munro

Alice Munro
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1931
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wingham, Ontario, Canada

Her mother’s struggle with Parkinson's disease pushed Alice Munro into reading as an escape route. Munro later became a housewife, but soon soared to fame for her short story collections such as Too Much Happiness. The Canadian author later won the Nobel Prize and the Man Booker Prize, too.

 20 Phan Thi Kim Phuc

Phan Thi Kim Phuc
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 2, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Trảng Bàng

Phan Thi Kim Phuc is a South Vietnamese-born Canadian woman. As a nine-year-old child, she was captured in a photograph taken during the Vietnam War, in which she is shown running naked on a road following a napalm attack. It took her a long time to recover from her injuries. As an adult, she is a peace activist.  

 21 Robin Sharma

Robin Sharma
4
Famous As: Writer, Public Speaker
Birthdate: June 16, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Port Hawkesbury

Canadian writer Robin Sharma is best known for his The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari book series. A qualified lawyer, he is an alumnus of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University. He has published several books on stress management and spirituality. He is the founder of the training company Sharma Leadership International.

 22 Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 8, 1959
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Canadian author Mark Steyn is best known for his bestselling books such as America Alone and After America. A political commentator and critic, too, he has been in the news for his controversial comments on the LGBT community. He has also hosted Fox shows such as Tucker Carlson Tonight.

 23 Harland Williams

Harland Williams
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 14, 1962
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Canadian-American actor and stand-up comedian Harland Williams was initially interested in drawing, painting, and poetry and had also worked briefly as a forest ranger. Apart from appearing in minor roles in movies such as Dumb and Dumber, he has been a voice actor and a children’s book author, too.

 24 Paul Haggis

Paul Haggis
4
Famous As: Screenwriter, Film producer, Film director
Birthdate: March 10, 1953
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London

 25 Win Butler

Win Butler
5
Famous As: Songwriter, Singer, Composer, Poet, Guitarist
Birthdate: April 14, 1980
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Truckee, California, United States

Win Butler is an American-Canadian multi-instrumentalist, musician, singer, and songwriter. He is credited with co-founding the popular Canadian indie rock band, Arcade Fire. Also a humanitarian, Butler contributed to a charity record named Do They Know It's Hallowe'en as part of a UNICEF benefit project. A multi-talented personality, Win Butler often participates in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

 26 Saul Rubinek

Saul Rubinek
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Föhrenwald, Wolfratshausen, Bavaria, Germany

Saul Rubinek is a German-born Canadian actor, director, and playwright. Encouraged to pursue acting by his parents, he enrolled at the Ottawa Little Theatre. After a successful Broadway career, he branched out to TV shows and films as well. He made his directorial debut with the black comedy film Jerry and Tom, earning a Sundance Film Festival award nomination. 

 27 David Frum

David Frum
5
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: June 30, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 28 Keegan Connor Tracy

Keegan Connor Tracy
5
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: December 3, 1971
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Windsor, Ontario Windsor, Ontario, Canada

 29 A. E. van Vogt

A. E. van Vogt
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 26, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gretna, Canada
Died: January 26, 2000

A. E. van Vogt was a Canadian author whose bizarre narrative style had a major impact on many future science fiction writers like Philip K. Dick. One of the most influential and popular science fiction writers of the mid-twentieth century, van Vogt was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1996.

 30 Michael Ondaatje

Michael Ondaatje
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 12, 1943
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, writer, and filmmaker. Born in Sri Lanka, he eventually migrated to Canada. He studied at Bishop's University and embarked on a teaching career. His literary works include poems, novels, and essays. He is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including the Giller Prize and the Booker Prize. 

 31 Louise Penny

Louise Penny
5
Famous As: Novelist, Writer
Birthdate: July 1, 1958
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Once a CBC journalist, Louise Penny is now an award-winning mystery writer. Her bestselling Armand Gamache series of novels have been published in over 20 languages. The five-time Agatha Award-winning author has also launched an award for budding Canadian mystery writers. She had met her husband on a blind date.

 32 Jian Ghomeshi

Jian Ghomeshi
5
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: June 9, 1967
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England, UK

Multi-dimensional Persian-Canadian musical artist and broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi is best known for his CBC show Q. Part of the folk-rock group Moxy Früvous, he has also launched a few podcasts. He was dragged into a sexual assault controversy, involving multiple charges, but was later acquitted of all charges.

 33 Meg Tilly

Meg Tilly
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 14, 1960
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Long Beach, California, USA

Meg Tilly is an actress best known for her role in the drama mystery film Agnes of God, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She began her career as a dancer and eventually took up acting roles. She loves to write as a hobby and is the author of many novels. 

 34 Rupi Kaur

Rupi Kaur
13
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 4, 1992
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hoshiarpur,Punjab, India Punjab, India

Rupi Kaur is an Indian-born Canadian poet, photographer, illustrator, and author. Born in India, she moved to Canada at an early age. She began performing in 2009 and gained international fame through her Instagram posts. She often explores her South Asian identity and femininity in her work. Her latest poetry collection, Home Body, released in 2020, was a resounding success. 

 35 Pattie Mallette

Pattie Mallette
4
Famous As: Author, Producer
Birthdate: April 2, 1975
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Stratford, Ontario, Canada

Pattie Mallette is a Canadian author and film producer. She had a difficult childhood marked by sexual abuse. She began her career as a child and appeared in many TV shows and stage productions. She became pregnant when she was 18. Her son is the popular singer Justin Bieber. She also managed his early career. 

 36 James Doohan

James Doohan
4
Famous As: Screenwriter, Television actor, Film actor, Actor, Novelist, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: March 3, 1920
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vancouver
Died: July 20, 2005

Canadian actor James Doohan was initially a soldier in the Canadian army and had even sustained injuries in World War II. He later soared to fame with his Saturn Award-nominated role of Montgomery Scott in the Star Trek film and TV franchise. He also voiced the character in various video games.

 37 Diana Hart

Diana Hart
3
Famous As: Model, Writer
Birthdate: October 8, 1963
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 38 Paul Hellyer

Paul Hellyer
3
Famous As: Politician, Ufologist, Writer
Birthdate: August 6, 1923
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Waterford, Ontario

 39 K'naan

K'naan
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 30, 1978
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Banaadir, Somalia

K'naan is the stage name of Keinan Abdi Warsame, a Somali Canadian rapper, singer-songwriter, and instrumentalist. He rose to fame when his single Wavin' Flag was chosen as Coca-Cola's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He is committed to his Somali roots and is considered a spokesperson for the Toronto Somali community. 

 40 Margaret Trudeau

Margaret Trudeau
6
Famous As: Author, Actress
Birthdate: September 10, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vancouver, Canada

 41 David Shore

David Shore
3
Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Film producer, Writer, Lawyer
Birthdate: July 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London

 42 Yann Martel

Yann Martel
3
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Screenwriter
Birthdate: June 25, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Salamanca

Canadian author Yann Martel gained international fame with his Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, which was later made into an Oscar-winning movie. Born to a diplomat and poet father, Martel lived in places such as Spain and France in childhood and worked odd jobs before he began writing.

 43 Serge Monast

Serge Monast
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: 1945 AD
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Died: December 5, 1996

Serge Monast was a Québécois investigative journalist, poet, and essayist. He was also known as a conspiracy theorist. He wrote extensively on the theme of the New World Order in the 1990s and was particularly inspired by the works of fellow conspiracy theorist William Guy Carr. Project Blue Beam (NASA) is one of his most popular works. 

 44 Anna Silk

Anna Silk
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 31, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada

 45 Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May
3
Famous As: Writer, Politician, Journalist, Lawyer
Birthdate: June 9, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hartford

 46 Jann Arden

Jann Arden
3
Famous As: Street artist, Singer, Film producer, Television presenter, Actor, Writer, Singer-songwriter, Musician
Birthdate: March 27, 1962
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Calgary

 47 Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow
3
Famous As: Blogger
Birthdate: July 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Toronto

 48 Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 24, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

Alex Awards winning Irish-Canadian playwright, literary historian, short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter Emma Donoghue is best known for authoring award winning novels like Room and Hood. Room, an international best-seller, was adapted into a film bearing same title that not only emerged as a critical and commercial success but also garnered four Oscar nominations at the 88th Academy Awards.

 49 John McCrae

John McCrae
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 30, 1872
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 28, 1918

Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.

 50 Steven Erikson

Steven Erikson
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Writer
Birthdate: October 7, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Toronto

Canadian novelist Steven Erikson is best-known for authoring the widely acclaimed ten-volume epic-fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen. Other notable works of Erikson include The Kharkanas Trilogy, a prequel to Malazan Book of the Fallen series; the Willful Child Trilogy, a spoof on Star Trek; and The Witness Trilogy, first novel of which is planned for a November-2021 release.