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Atwood, Ostanek, Guess Who on Walk of Fame

Visual artists, sports stars, actors to be immortalized

Source: Toronto Star
Date: February 19, 2001
Author: Louise Surette

With fewer Hollywood stars than in previous years, the 2001 list of inductees added to Canada's Walk of Fame may not be as recognizable to the public, but is just as important to Canadian culture, the board of directors say.

While previous names have included internationally known celebrities such as Celine Dion, Jim Carrey and Michael J. Fox, this year's list, unveiled today, draws from deeper within the world of arts and literature as well as music, athletics and the stage.

Those who will soon have their names immortalized in the cement surrounding Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall include, Canada's ''`King of Polka,'' musician Walter Ostanek, actor and director Robert Lepage and Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak. Peter Soumalias, founder and chairman of the Walk of Fame, admits that the selection process always includes a debate over the importance of longevity over popularity.

''In the end the decision always comes back to the fact that it isn't a question of who is more popular, but who is more credit-worthy.''

He says for some Canadians this years selection may be more of an education than a celebration.

''Generally most people won't know Walter Ostanek although he has received 19 grammy nominations,'' says Soumalias.

''Kenojuak Ashevak is someone I had never heard of, but once you look at her accomplishments you realize her work is seen around the world and she is highly decorated.''

The other inductees include baseball player Ferguson Jenkins, author Margaret Atwood, hockey player Jean Beliveau, figure skater Kurt Browning, rock band The Guess Who, sprinter Harry Jerome, actor Leslie Nielsen, director Ivan Reitman, opera singer Teresa Stratas and ballerina Veronica Tennant.

The decision to branch out and look at different kinds of famous Canadians wasn't intentional, but the Walk of Fame Committee was driven in that direction by the nominations they were receiving from the public.

''Last year, for example, we received hundreds of nominations for visual artists and we couldn't ignore that demand.''

Soumalias says a lot has changed since the first famous Canadians were inducted three years ago when the board of judges had to have the rules explained to them and the inductees didn't know what Canada's Walk of Fame was.

''It was to my pleasant surprise that the 13 inductees, without exception, had absolute awareness of Canada's Walk of Fame and were all thrilled and honoured to find out they were going to be a part of it.''

The actual stars on the sidewalk are stylized maple leaves and can be found on King St. West between the Royal Alex and Princess of Wales theatres in Toronto's entertainment district.

The Walk of Fame was founded as a way to honour Canadian artists, entertainers and sports celebrities. The selection is made by a 19-member board of directors. This year's choices bring the total to 51.

This year also saw more than 40,000 people contact the Walk of Fame to offer a nomination, but one of the most popular names won't, however, be inducted.

Soumalias says Shania Twain won thousands of nominations, but hasn't been in the business quite long enough to qualify.

To qualify for induction, candidates must have been born in Canada or spent their creative years in this country. They require success over a minimum of 10 years and must have a body of work that is recognized for its impact on Canadian culture.

Most of the inductees will attend a gala event June 1 at Roy Thompson Hall.

2001 inductees
Walk of Fame names announced Monday

  • Kenojuak Ashevak
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Jean Beliveau
  • Kurt Browning
  • The Guess Who
  • Ferguson Jenkins
  • Harry Jerome
  • Robert Lepage
  • Leslie Nielsen
  • Walter Ostanek
  • Ivan Reitman
  • Teresa Stratas
  • Veronica Tennant

    Source: Canadian Walk of Fame