In 1955 I went for two weeks or so to the Catholic Youth Center camp on Big Sandy Lake in northern Minnesota, where I first learned of the seven Jesuit martyrs, Jogues, Brébeuf, Goupil, Lallemant, and the others (and Kateri Tekakwitha who ended her short life in a settlement on the banks of the St. Lawrence). I have to add that the combination of woods and water (as opposed to prairie) seized my heart and imagination.
Probably the biggest debt I owe Canada is that one of my great-grandfathers, Jules Etienne Napoleon Gosselin, was born in Montmagny, Quebec, in 1852. I have no idea how he got to Osseo, Minnesota - founded by Pierre Bottineau - by 1885 to marry my great-grandmother Julia Chenevert, granddaughter of Pierre.
The next biggest debt is to my Uncle George's wife, my Aunt Rita, born in St.-Jean-Baptiste near Winnipeg, who has not only been very kind to me, but has been tart in her criticism of my schoolbook French ("You don't growl enough!")
Next comes a friend of some years' standing whom I met on Ave Maria Singles; she is a Winnipeg lady, bilingual (naturally), and who has been a wonderful chatting companion these year, and who is the inventor of Huey the Humourous Humerus and the co-inventor of Newfie Brewfie.
Then, in no particular order: Red Green, Geneviève Bujold (whose performance as Jeanne d'Arc I would love to see again), Céline Dion, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Robert Service, Thomas Costain, Louis Hémon, John Buchan (yes I know he wasn't really a Canadian), W. P. Kinsella; and so many actors and musicians I've liked but I had no idea were Canadians.
And, of course, TH2.
PS - the Maple leaf is from the tree in my back yard.