Being a famous Canadian athlete comes with numerous benefits. Some of the most notable advantages include financial stability, from sponsorships, to endorsement deals. Being in the public eye also provides an opportunity to influence and inspire others through their hard work, dedication, and sportsmanship. Famous Canadian athletes enjoy a vast network of connections that spans across various industries, offering countless opportunities for personal and professional growth.
Many extraordinary sportspeople left a mark in Canadian sports. Take Wayne Gretzky, for example – the ice hockey wizard whose legendary prowess on the rink earned him the moniker “The Great One.” Another Canadian sports icon is Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. Even though his run was cut short due to the cancer’s return, he became a symbol of hope and determination. His legacy lives on through the annual Terry Fox Run.
Check out our list of the most famous athletes in Canada.
What makes the best athletes?
We’ll judge the best athletes in Canada based on these four criteria:
Achievements stand as a testament to an athlete’s talent, unwavering dedication, and unrelenting work ethic. Winning championships, setting records, and earning medals are among the many forms of achievements. They offer concrete proof of an athlete’s success.
The most popular sports in Canada have produced many iconic athletes. Achievements don’t just bring glory and publicity to the athlete, but they also serve as a source of motivation for future generations to aim for similar milestones.
An athlete’s skills consists of technical abilities, physical attributes, and mental toughness, which require years of practice and training. These skills can distinguish an athlete from their competitors. For instance, a runner’s speed, a gymnast’s balance, or a basketball player’s agility can make a substantial difference in their performance.
Without adequate skills, an athlete can experience difficulty competing at the highest level and realizing their objectives. The best Canadian athletes have all mastered their skills to near perfection.
Background can give us a peek into the upbringing, experiences, and challenges that shape an athlete’s values, motivation, and determination to succeed. Think about family, cultural and social context, as well as education and early training.
As an example, a Canadian athlete who grew up in a low-income background may have faced tremendous obstacles in obtaining the resources and training needed to compete at a high level. Their background can offer a wealth of context for their achievement, inspiring others to overcome similar challenges.
An athlete’s impact spans far beyond their career on the field. Fans also remember their contributions made to their sport, the ability to inspire future athletes, and philanthropic work add to their legacy.
For example, Wayne Gretzky’s role not only included his record-breaking achievements, but also his ability to popularize hockey in North America. Cementing their place in history, an athlete’s legacy serves as a reminder of the impact they’ve made on society as a whole. Many famous Canadian athletes leave behind legacies that will be remembered forever.
List of most famous athletes in Canada
- Wayne Gretzky
- Clara Hughes
- Terry Fox
- Cindy Klassen
- Hayley Wickenheiser
- Alexandre Despatie
- Andre De Grasse
- George St-Pierre
- Christine Sinclair
- Mark Tewksbury
- Donovan Bailey
- Ellie Black
- Eugenie Bouchard
- Andrew Wiggins
- Mike Weir
- Damian Warner
- Patrick Chan
- Waneek Horn-Miller
- Marc Kennedy
- Carey Price
Famous Canadian hockey player
Wayne Gretzky secured his position as the most famous Canadian athlete with his incredible performance on the ice rink, leading to the nickname “The Great One.” Over two decades, Gretzky amassed an array of accomplishments, including four Stanley Cup wins and nine Most Valuable Player awards. His legacy remains an inspiration for upcoming hockey players and athletes alike.
Wayne Gretzky – Achievements
Wayne Gretzky is widely considered one of the most outstanding ice hockey players in history, having accumulated numerous records, including the most career goals (894), assists (1,963), and points (2,857) in the National Hockey League (NHL).
Gretzky was a huge part of the Edmonton Oilers’ domination four times in the 1980s. He took home the Hart Memorial Trophy, the NHL’s most valuable player award, a ridiculous nine times.
Wayne Gretzky – Skills
Gretzky’s skills on ice are unparalleled. He had a unique set of skills that included the ability to see the game differently from everyone else, which earned him the nickname “The Great One.” His exceptional passing and stickhandling skills left fans in awe.
Gretzky had a natural ability to find his teammates on the ice and deliver precision passes that created scoring opportunities. He was a top-notch scorer who could strike from any angle imaginable.
Wayne Gretzky – Background
Wayne Gretzky was born in Brantford, Ontario, and has been a hockey enthusiast right from his childhood. He displayed his talent in the sport at a young age, which resulted in him starting to play organized hockey. His talent was soon observed by scouts.
At the tender age of 16, he joined the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League. In his rookie year, he strongly dominated the league with 70 goals and 112 assists.
Wayne Gretzky – Legacy
Gretzky completely changed the game with his speed, talent, and love for his team. He transformed the sport and inspired countless future players. Even today, years after his retirement, he is an icon in his home country of Canada, thought of as one of the country’s top ambassadors.
In 1999, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in recognition of his amazing achievements. The NHL even retired his jersey number league-wide, a huge honour and tribute to his incredible legacy.
Famous Canadian skater & cyclist
Clara Hughes, a remarkable Canadian athlete and humanitarian, has made a name for herself in both cycling and speed skating. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1972, Clara started her sporting journey as a speed skater before switching to cycling.
Over her career, she has amassed a plethora of medals, including six Olympic ones, securing her title as one of Canada’s most decorated athletes. Aside from her athletic prowess, Clara is an advocate for mental health who utilizes her influence to raise awareness and funds for numerous causes.
Famous Canadian runner
Terry Fox, a celebrated Canadian athlete and humanitarian, became widely known for his Marathon of Hope in 1980, which aimed to raise both awareness and funds for cancer research through a cross-country run. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1958, Terry was diagnosed with bone cancer at 18, leading to the amputation of his right leg. Despite this challenge, he remained dedicated to athletics and began long-distance running. His Marathon of Hope started in St. John’s, Newfoundland with the goal to run across the entire country.
Unfortunately, it was halted in Thunder Bay, Ontario when Terry’s cancer recurred and spread to his lungs. His unwavering determination and bravery against all odds stirred the admiration of Canadians. His memory lives on through the annual Terry Fox Run, one of the best Canadian charities that raises money for cancer research. Today, Terry Fox stands as a symbol of Canadian heroism.
Famous Canadian speed skater
Cindy Klassen, a Canadian long-track speed skating marvel, has embarked on an extraordinary athletic journey! Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1979, she began her love affair with skates early on and rapidly soared to fame.
Her overflowing trophy case showcases six Olympic medals and 14 World Championship medals, firmly establishing her as a true symbol of Canadian sports. But that’s not all! Klassen is also renowned for her generous spirit and active participation in community events.
Famous Canadian ice hockey player
Born in the quaint town of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, in 1978, Hayley Wickenheiser emerged as a prodigy in the world of ice hockey. This Canadian powerhouse carved her name in history with her unwavering passion and unparalleled skills. With four Olympic golds and a whopping seven World Championship golds under her belt, Wickenheiser indisputably reigns as one of Canada’s most esteemed female athletes.
Yet, it’s not just on the ice where she demonstrates excellence. As a committed philanthropist, Wickenheiser has consistently leveraged her fame for the greater good. By championing numerous organizations and causes, she’s harnessed her influential platform to generate funds and awareness for those in need.
Famous Canadian diver
Alexandre Despatie, a former Canadian diving sensation, has left an indelible mark on the world of aquatics with his impressive accomplishments. Born in the culturally vibrant city of Montreal, Quebec in 1985, Despatie took to the diving board at a tender age, rapidly gaining notoriety for his extraordinary abilities.
As he gracefully navigated through his career, Alexandre bagged an array of medals, including a pair of Olympic silver milestones and a whopping 11 World Championship decorations. This astounding record cements him as one of the most triumphant Canadian divers ever to grace the waters.
Andre De Grasse
Famous Canadian track-and-field athlete
Hailing from the vibrant city of Scarborough, Ontario, born in 1994, Andrew De Grasse emerged as a prodigious talent in the realm of track and field athletics. From a tender age, his lightning-fast speed and remarkable prowess on the track propelled him into the limelight.
Garnering a collection of accolades throughout his illustrious career, De Grasse boasts an awe-inspiring tally of three Olympic and eight World Championship medals. His stellar achievements vaulted him to the status of one of Canada’s most successful sprinters ever.
Famous Canadian mixed martial artist
Affectionately known as “GSP,” George St-Pierre is a legendary Canadian mixed martial artist with an astonishing career. Born beneath the charming skies of Saint-Isidore, Quebec in 1981, this extraordinary athlete embarked on his journey through early karate lessons and eventually discovered his true passion within the dynamic world of mixed martial arts.
With numerous titles under his belt, including two esteemed UFC welterweight championships, GSP has carved his name as one of the most feared and applauded fighters in the history of the sport.
Famous Canadian soccer player
Christine Sinclair, a Canadian soccer sensation, has made quite a name for herself in the world of sports. Born in Burnaby, British Columbia in 1983, she kicked off her soccer journey at an early age and quickly gained recognition for her remarkable prowess on the pitch.
Her impressive career boasts a multitude of accolades, such as two Olympic bronze medals and a Pan American Games gold medal, not to mention breaking records as the top scorer in international soccer history.
Famous Canadian swimmer
In the bustling city of Calgary, Alberta, 1968 witnessed the birth of a future swimming legend – Mark Tewksbury. From his early years, he displayed an undeniable passion and commitment to the world of swimming. As an esteemed Canadian athlete, Mark’s abundant accomplishments speak volumes.
With three Olympic medals embracing his neck and seven World Championship medals glistening in his collection, he has indisputably secured his place among Canada’s swimming elite.
Famous Canadian sprinter
Hailing from the Great White North, Donovan Bailey stands as a renowned former Canadian sprinter who garnered remarkable accomplishments throughout his athletic career. Born in Manchester, Jamaica in 1967, he migrated to Canada during his childhood, and it wasn’t long before he discovered his passion for sprinting.
Over the years, Bailey claimed an impressive count of titles, such as two prestigious Olympic golds and a trio of World Championship golds. He even shattered records, including the 100-meter sprint world record.
Famous Canadian gymnast
Ellie Black is one of the best Canadian gymnasts. She has soared to remarkable heights in her athletic journey. H and unwavering commitment to the sport. Her illustrious career boasts a treasure trove of titles, adorning her with multiple medals from the Pan American Games and Commonwealth Games.
A trailblazer at the 2016 Olympics, Black etched her name in history as the first Canadian gymnast to secure an individual all-around medal at the World Championships. As an athlete and humanitarian, Ellie Black’s enduring legacy continues to be a beacon of inspiration for many.
Famous Canadian tennis player
Eugenie Bouchard is an accomplished tennis player hailing from the vibrant city of Montreal, Quebec. Born in 1994, she picked up a tennis racket at an early age and quickly dazzled everyone with her exceptional aptitude for the sport.
Over time, she has triumphed in myriad tournaments, securing a WTA singles title and making her mark at the 2014 Wimbledon finals.
Famous Canadian basketball player
Andrew Wiggins has carved out an illustrious basketball career that befits his Canadian heritage. Born amidst the scenic beauty of Thornhill, Ontario in 1995, young Wiggins embraced basketball with fervour, swiftly garnering attention for his prowess on the court.
Venturing south to showcase his skills in American high schools and colleges, Wiggins was snatched up as the top pick in the 2014 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. His incredible journey has led him to don jerseys for various esteemed NBA franchises, including Minnesota’s Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors.
Famous Canadian golfer
Mike Weir, a renowned Canadian pro golfer, has left an indelible mark on the world of athletics. Born in the picturesque town of Sarnia, Ontario in 1970, young Mike took to golf like a duck to water, quickly gaining recognition for his unwavering dedication and innate talent.
Throughout his illustrious career, Mike amassed a wealth of accolades, including eight hard-earned PGA Tour victories and one prestigious major championship – the 2003 Masters Tournament.
Famous Canadian decathlon athlete
Hailing from the Great White North, Damian Warner is a true Canadian sensation, having captured hearts and high scores as a decathlete. Born in London, Ontario in the glorious year of 1989, Damian comes from one of the most walkable cities in Canada. He leapt onto the track and field scene at a tender age, already showcasing his incredible dedication and astonishing talent.
His collection of accolades is as impressive as his spirited athleticism, adorned with two shiny Olympic medals, five World Championship badges of honour, and multiple record-breaking performances, including Canada’s very own decathlon record.
Famous Canadian figure skater
Hailing from the land of the maple leaf, Patrick Chan stands as a famous Asian Canadian figure skater, celebrated for his remarkable achievements in the world of athletics. Born under Ottawa’s snowy skies in 1990, this prodigious talent strapped on his skates from a tender age and rapidly gained fame for the magic he conjured on ice.
As he carved his path through countless victories, Chan triumphed thrice as a World Champion, with two gleaming Olympic silver medals adorning his collection. Records were shattered in his wake, as he claimed the world record title in the short program. His achievements have made Chan one of the most famous Canadian figure skaters of all time.
Famous Canadian Indigenous water polo athlete
Waneek Horn-Miller is a Mohawk First Nation athlete, activist, and TV star. She holds a special place in the hearts of Canada’s Indigenous people. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, she comes from a lineage teeming with significant Indigenous figures and leaders.
As an exceptional water polo competitor, Horn-Miller secured her position on the Canadian Olympic team at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games. Her global stardom ignited when she was dramatically struck in the face by a riot officer’s weapon during the 1990 Oka Crisis – a turning point in Canadian Indigenous affairs.
After retiring from her athletic pursuits, Horn-Miller emerged as a passionate crusader for Indigenous rights, focusing on health, empowering young people, and social justice. She co-established the Indigenous Sport Council of Quebec and accepted the role of National Coordinator for the North American Indigenous Games.
Famous Canadian curler
Marc Kennedy, a distinguished retired Canadian curler, has made remarkable strides in his illustrious athletic journey. Born in the charming city of St. Albert, Alberta, in 1982, he took up curling with fervor at an early age, swiftly making a name for himself with his exceptional skill and unwavering commitment to the sport.
Throughout his tenure on ice, he clinched countless laurels that include three prestigious Canadian championships and two coveted Olympic gold medals—thanks to his collaboration with Kevin Martin’s powerhouse team in 2010 and Brad Jacobs’ stellar squad in 2014.
Famous Canadian Indigenous hockey player
Carey Price originates from Ulkatcho First Nation in Anahim Lake, British Columbia. He has made waves as a famous Canadian Indigenous ice hockey goaltender. Throughout his youth, Price sharpened his hockey abilities on the frozen ponds near his home.
His hockey career truly took flight with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League, where Price exhibited unparalleled goaltending talent. This led him to secure a spot with the Montreal Canadiens, where he has played for over a decade. On his path to success, Price has collected numerous awards and acknowledgements, including the Hart Memorial Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and a 2014 Winter Olympics gold medal.
Proud of his cultural heritage, Price understands the importance of Indigenous representation in hockey and frequently addresses this topic. Bearing witness to his impact both on and off the ice, Price was awarded the 2020 Laureus World Sports Award for Exceptional Achievement in a sport.