Shania Twain
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20 Stars You Didn't Know Were Canadian

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Shania Twain
John Shearer / Getty

Undervalued Imports

For a long time, the U.S. has been quietly attracting and nurturing talented Canadians. You know all of these high-profile folks, but you might not be aware of their country of origin. Maybe they’re too polite to make a big deal of it. Here are 20 celebrities that hail from the Great White North.


RelatedWhich Celebrities Besides Tom Hanks Have Dual Citizenship?

Pamela Anderson
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Pamela Anderson

Born: Ladysmith, British Columbia, Canada

The actress, model, and all-around sex symbol was a fitness instructor when Labatt beer hired her to appear in its commercials. An offer from Playboy soon followed, eventually leading to her big break on “Baywatch.”


Related: 15 Celebs Who’ve Lied About Their Age

Justin Bieber
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Justin Bieber

Born: London, Ontario, Canada

The pop singer’s road to superstardom began when his mother posted clips of him performing to YouTube. “Within months, Justin was an internet sensation with a large following of fans,” says Biography. Bieber revealed in June 2022 that he was suffering from a rare neurological disease that caused temporary partial facial paralysis, People reports.


Related: Celebrities With Health Conditions You Didn’t Know About

Jim Carrey
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Jim Carrey

Born: Newmarket, Ontario, Canada

The rubber-faced comedian got his start in standup at age 15 in nearby Toronto, moved to Hollywood at 19, and made his debut on The Tonight Show in November 1983. “In Living Color,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” “The Mask,” and a host of other films followed. Variety says he told Access Hollywood in April 2022 that he was “probably” retiring. “I have enough. I’ve done enough. I am enough,” he said.

Tommy Chong
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Tommy Chong

Born: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Chong was part of a Vancouver R&B band before he became half of the 1970s pot-infused comedy duo Cheech and Chong, turning out nine comedy albums and eight films. Now in his 80s, he’s turned up on “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Masked Singer.”

Leonard Cohen
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Leonard Cohen

Born: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The New York Times describes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee whose songs, including the beloved “Hallelujah,” were performed by everyone from Judy Collins to U2 as a “poet and novelist who abandoned a promising literary career to become one of the foremost songwriters of the contemporary era.” He died in 2016.

Celine Dion
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Aubrey Drake Graham
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Drake

Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Aubrey Drake Graham first gained attention playing the character of wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks in the Canadian teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation.” Following an invitation to tour with Lil Wayne, his singing career took off in 2009. His latest album, “Her Loss,” dropped in November 2022.

Michael J. Fox
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Michael J. Fox

Born: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

After landing a few acting roles in Canada, Fox dropped out of high school and drove to Los Angeles with his father. He won a role in the short-lived series “Palmerstown, U.S.A.” before joining the cast of “Family Ties” as everyone’s favorite young conservative Alex P. Keaton, which he would be for the next seven years.

Ryan Gosling
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Avril Lavigne
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Avril Lavigne

Born: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

The “Punk Princess” was singing at age 2 and signed a recording contract at 16, filling her first album with a string of hits that included “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi.”.; A severe case of Lyme disease in 2014 forced her to take a break. She’s started a foundation to help fight the illness and returned to making music for a new album, “Love Sux,” released in 2022.

Geddy Lee
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Geddy Lee

Born: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The bassist and lead singer of prog-rock band Rush was born Gary Lee Weinrib, the son of Polish immigrants who met as teenagers in a World War II work camp and later married after being separated and sent to Dachau and Auschwitz, according to the Globe and Mail. He’s currently working on a memoir, expected sometime in 2023.

Norm Macdonald
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Norm Macdonald

Born: Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Most people remember the droll, deadpan comedian – called “acerbic” and “sometimes controversial” by the New York Times – from his time in the cast of “Saturday Night Live” where he anchored the show’s “Weekend Update” segment for three seasons. His gum-chomping impersonation of Burt Reynolds was spot on. He died in 2021.

Rachel McAdams
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Rachel McAdams

Born: London, Ontario, Canada

The Oscar-nominated actress was a competitive figure skater before catching the acting bug at age 12. Roles in “Mean Girls” and “The Notebook” (with Ryan Gosling) brought her attention and she earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role in “Spotlight.”

Joni Mitchell
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Joni Mitchell

Born: Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada

Born Roberta Joan Anderson, the singer, songwriter, and artist overcame polio as a child growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, according to her website. She was briefly married to folksinger Chuck Mitchell and found fame through her music in the 1970s with hits like “Big Yellow Taxi” and “Woodstock.” She received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2021.

Sandra Oh
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Sandra Oh

Born: Nepean, Ontario, Canada

The daughter of Korean immigrants got into acting as a child, eventually landing notable roles in “Sideways.” She starred in “Grey’s Anatomy” for 10 seasons before starring in the BBC America spy drama “Killing Eve” for four seasons.

Keanu Reeves
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Keanu Reeves

Born: Beirut, Lebanon

Reeves — whose first name means “cool breeze over the mountains” — wasn’t born in Canada, but holds Canadian citizenship, having grown up in Toronto with his British mother before finding fame in Hollywood. He’s best known for the Bill and Ted films and his role as Neo in The Matrix movies, but he’s acted in a wide range of genres.

Ryan Reynolds
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Ryan Reynolds

Born: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The actor, film producer, and businessman (he really does own Mint Mobile) landed his first professional acting job at age 12 in “Hillside,” a Canadian teen drama. It took him 16 years to get “Deadpool” on the screen. The unique superhero film became the highest-grossing R-rated feature of all time and nabbed Reynolds a Golden Globe nomination. He recently bought a Welsh soccer team with fellow actor Rob McElhenney.

William Shatner
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William Shatner

Born: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Shatner was a seasoned actor long before he found the role that would define the rest of his career — Capt. Jame T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise on Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek.” While the series didn’t last long, its cult popularity later spawned the popular film franchise. Shatner actually made it to space in 2021 on a suborbital flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft.

Martin Short
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Martin Short

Born: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

The former social work major followed college friends Eugene Levy and Dave Thomas into the footlights, eventually unleashing characters Jackie Rogers Jr., Nathan Thum, Ed Grimley, and Jiminy Glick on audiences via “SCTV” and “Saturday Night Live.” More recently, he’s been working with friend and frequent collaborator Steve Martin, as well as Selena Gomez, on “Only Murders in the Building.”

Shania Twain
John Shearer / Getty

Shania Twain

Born: Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Eilleen Regina Edwards “was singing by age 3, playing the guitar at 8, and penning her own songs at 10,” says Bigography. She took her stepfather’s last name and later changed her first name to Shania, an Ojibwa tribal word that means “I’m on my way,” when her record label didn’t like the name Eileen. A documentary on her life, “Not Just A Girl,” was released on Netflix in 2022.