Meet Extraordinary People Who Shaped Canada!


Elizabeth MacLeod profile image

Elizabeth MacLeod

“I’ve always been very curious about how things work and why people do what they do. No wonder I love writing non-fiction!” says Elizabeth MacLeod, the award-winning author of many notable Canadian books. She likes researching and discovering amazing facts, then sharing the information and secrets she uncovers with readers.

As a kid, Elizabeth was fascinated by science. And writing was already a part of her life because she and her two brothers would draw crazy creatures or write wild stories when they were supposed to be doing homework! Elizabeth’s stories were usually about mad scientists or space aliens.

As an adult, her first job was working as an editor at OWL magazine, where she combined her passions for science and writing. While working at OWL, Elizabeth got a chance to write a book and she jumped at it. That book was about lions. Since then, Elizabeth has written more than 70 books — on topics ranging from chocolate treats and Harry Houdini to monster flyers and murderous royals.

When she’s not writing, Elizabeth enjoys reading, swimming, theatre, singing, making jewellery and baking. Elizabeth lives in Toronto with her husband, Paul, and their cat, Cosimo.

Elizabeth MacLeod’s advice for aspiring writers:
For anyone — kids or adults — who wants to write, just try it. If you want to show your writing to other people, then do it, but if you just want to write for yourself, that’s fine too. I sometimes find it really hard to stop reading (writers love to read!) and researching and to start writing down my thoughts.

Writing can be difficult, but like anything, it becomes simpler the more you do it. It’s easy to find excuses not to write, so you just have to sit down and do it!"


Mike Deas profile image

Mike Deas

Mike Deas loved drawing as a child and devoured comics such as Asterix and Obelix, Tintin, Calvin and Hobbes, and Mad Magazine. He almost always had his sights set on being a visual artist or cartoonist. Luckily, growing up on Salt Spring Island, with a rich artist tradition, he had a lot of support from his family and community.

Mike earned a spot in the commercial animation program at Capilano Collage and found himself surrounded by amazing talent. “It really pushed me to refine my own skills. I still keep in touch and follow my classmates’ careers,” he says.

His own creative process focuses on the big picture first, then moves forward to the smallest details. But Mike continues to make an effort to explore new ideas. “I have found the more time spent drawing, the more I improve and the more I discover there is to learn,” he admits.

After working in the video game industry for a couple of years, he realized he wanted to work on his own projects — controlling the final outcome, while still doing hands-on creation. It was at that point that Mike realized that illustration was right for him.

He has illustrated many books over the last 10 years, including the Tank and Fizz series, and he is currently writing and illustrating his own graphic novel series. The Scholastic Canada Biography series has been hugely successful in large part thanks to the unique comic-style look Mike brings to each and every story.

Aside from writing and illustrating, Mike works on his classic car, a 1960 Chevy Bel-Air, and enjoys hiking and camping as well as reading. He lives with his wife and two young daughters on Salt Spring Island, BC.


Why read biographies? Let your students know that reading biographies can make kids smart, confident and happy! Here’s why….

Biographies empower kids with knowledge:

When students read about humorous incidents or problems in the lives of notable figures, they get to know these individuals as real people. This helps kids identify with their heroes and understand why these important people succeeded.

Biographies help boost self-esteem:

Many heroes had obstacles they needed to overcome. Discussing how they met their challenges helps kids deal with their own difficulties and realize that anything is possible.

Biographies are fun:

Kids are curious — they want to know why famous people did what they did.

Girl Reading image

Everyone featured in this biography series has three things in common:

1. They shaped our culture.

In addition, their contributions helped change and improve the world.

2. They were determined.

Some faced racism or gender discrimination, while others had health issues or disabilities, or battled challenging situations. But they all persevered and had the determination to succeed.

3. They were ordinary kids who became extraordinary adults.

When they were born, none of these people knew they would grow up to change the world. So perhaps an ordinary child reading these biographies will be inspired to grow up and do something extraordinary!

Another Girl Reading image

Discussion Guides

Jim Egan Discussion Guide

Jim Egan

Discussion Guide
Clara Hughes Discussion Guide

Clara Hughes

Discussion Guide
J. Armand Bombardier Discussion Guide

J. Armand Bombardier

Discussion Guide
Thérèse Casgrain Discussion Guide

Thérèse Casgrain

Discussion Guide
Viola Desmond Discussion Guide

Viola Desmond

Discussion Guide
Terry Fox Discussion Guide

Terry Fox

Discussion Guide
Chris Hadfield Discussion Guide

Chris Hadfield

Discussion Guide
Tommy Longboat Discussion Guide

Tom Longboat

Discussion Guide
Elsie MacGill Discussion Guide

Elsie MacGill

Discussion Guide
Willie O'Ree Discussion Guide

Willie O'Ree

Discussion Guide
Buffy Sainte-Marie Discussion Guide

Buffy Sainte-Marie

Discussion Guide
Mary Ann Shadd Discussion Guide

Mary Ann Shadd

Discussion Guide
David Suzuki Discussion Guide

David Suzuki

Discussion Guide

Dates of Significance

March 24, 1853

Mary Ann Shadd begins publishing her newspaper, the Provincial Freeman.

February 6, 1909

Tom Longboat wins the title of World Professional Marathon Champion.

March 24, 1936

David Suzuki’s birthday.

November 8, 1946

Viola Desmond is arrested at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.

June 23, 1951

Thérèse Casgrain becomes the first woman to head a political party in Canada.

January 18, 1958

Willie O’Ree becomes the first black player in the NHL.

April 12, 1980

Terry Fox begins the Marathon of Hope in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

September 13, 1981

The first Terry Fox Run is held.

November 12 - 20, 1995

Chris Hadfield makes his first space flight.

April 22, 2001

Chris Hadfield becomes the first Canadian to walk in space.

May 2, 2009

Mary Ann Shadd is honoured with a statue in Freedom Park in Chatham, Ontario.

June 4, 2009

First Tom Longboat Day in Ontario.

Illustrations copyright © Mike Deas. All right reserved.