Dominion Institute's new Canadian Icons Survey Reveals Some Not-So-Familiar Faces

Only Four in Ten (41%) Canadians Can Identify Sir John A Macdonald and Only One Half (49%) Can Identify the Governor General based on their Picture. Meanwhile, Terry Fox (88%) and Celine Dion (87%) are the Most Recognizable.

Toronto, ON -- As Canada celebrates its 142nd birthday on July 1st, a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of the Dominion Institute has revealed that many Canadians cannot identify the names of ten iconic Canadians, both past and present, from a picture provided to them.

The Canada Day Survey was conducted online, allowing over 1,000 Canadians to view pictures of ten famous Canadians and to write (unaided) that person's name in a blank box below. The results show that in only four instances were a majority of respondents able to identify the famous Canadian in the picture.

In fact, only four in ten (41%) Canadians could identify Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister, from his picture. Moreover, just one half (49%) correctly named Canada's Governor General Michaлlle Jean from her picture.

Less than one in ten Canadians (8%) could identify Sir Frederick Banting, who won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin. Only 19% of Canadians recognized Tommy Douglas, the Father of Medicare who was voted the Greatest Canadian in the 2004 CBC competition. Only one in four (27%) of respondents identified Mйtis Leader, Louis Riel.

In some cases Canadians performed better: nine in ten (89%) could identify a picture of Terry Fox, whose Marathon of Hope tragically ended as a result of his fight with cancer. Most Canadians (88%) could also identify Cйline Dion, the internationally-acclaimed pop star.

From best to worst, the following represents the proportion of Canadians who could identify these Canadians from their pictures:

  • Terry Fox (89%)
  • Cйline Dion (88%)
  • Wayne Gretzky (77%)
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau (73%)
  • Michaлlle Jean (49%)
  • Renй Lйvesque (46%; 87% of Quebecers)
  • John A. Macdonald (41%)
  • Louis Riel (27%)
  • Tommy Douglas (19%)
  • Frederick Banting (8%)

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted June 18-22, 2009, on behalf of the Dominion Institute. For this survey, a national sample of 1,013 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos' Canadian online panel was interviewed online. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the Canadian adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100% response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20 of what the results would have been had the entire adult population of Canada been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

For more information on this news release, please contact:
John Wright
Senior Vice President
Ipsos Reid
Public Affairs
(416) 324-2002
[email protected]

Marc Chalifoux
Executive Director
The Dominion Institute
(416) 602-9721
[email protected]

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