21 Of The Coolest People Who Were Born Or Raised In Ottawa

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Canada is home to some pretty cool people, but none are as arguably cool as those who hail from Ottawa.

While the country’s capital is known for being a government town, it should really be known as the birth place of a number of iconic Canadian celebs and personalities. From beloved broadcast anchors like Peter Mansbridge to award-winning singers like Alanis Morissette, there are so many famous figures who were born or raised in O-Town.

Here, we round up 21 of the coolest Canadians from the country’s capital.

Margaret Atwood

margaret atwood

The day job: Novelist/literary critic

The backstory: It makes sense that one of Canada’s most celebrated authors was born in the country’s capital. Atwood was born and raised in Ottawa until the age of six when her family moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and then Toronto. Now 77 years old, Atwood is an award-winning international author, with more than 40 books of fiction and poetry to her name. Among her most notable works are The Handmaid’s Tale, The Edible Woman, and the MaddAddam trilogy.

Sandra Oh

sandra oh

The day job: Actress

The backstory: Oh, who is most known for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy,” was born and raised in Ottawa. The actress left her hometown at the age of 19 to attend the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal where she studied acting. There, she eventually got her big break as the title star in the TV movie “The Diary of Evelyn Lau.” Since then she’s appeared in TV shows and films, including “Under the Tuscan Sun,” “Hard Candy” and the series “Shitty Boyfriends.”

Matthew Perry

matthew perry

The day job: Actor

The backstory: Although the former “Friends” star was born in Williamstown, Massachusetts, he moved to Ottawa with his mother as an infant. There, his mom, Suzanne Perry, worked as press secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In a recent interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the 47-year-old revealed he used to beat up Trudeau's son and future prime minister, Justin, at the elementary school they attended together.

“His dad was prime minister at the time but that wasn't the reason we beat him up,” Perry said. “I think he was the only kid in school that we could beat up.”

Steve MacLean

steve maclean

The day job: Astronaut

The backstory: MacLean was an accomplished physicist before he became one of six to join the Canadian Astronaut Program in 1983. During his career as an astronaut, he participated in two missions. The first was in 1992 when he flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia as a payload specialist. The second was in 2006 when he helped assemble the International Space Station. Following this, MacLean served as President of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) from 2008 to 2013. The 62-year-old is now described as “one of Canada's most accomplished astronauts.”

Keshia Chanté

keshia chante

The day job: Singer/reality star

The backstory: Before Chanté repped Brampton, she was born and raised in Ottawa. It wasn’t until she turned 14 that the singer moved away from her hometown. The 28-year-old gained fame in the early 2000s and is known for songs like “Unpredictable” and “Bad Boy.” Most recently, Chanté appeared on the Canadian reality series “Hockey Wives.”

Peter Mansbridge

peter mansbridge

The day job: News anchor

The backstory: Mansbridge is one of the most recognizable faces in Canadian broadcast. Although he was born in London, U.K., he moved to Canada at the age of six after his father received a job with the Canadian government. Raised in Ottawa, the 68-year-old dropped out of Grade 12 to serve in the Royal Canadian Navy. Following his discharge, he got into broadcast journalism and eventually became the face of CBC News.

Alanis Morissette

alanis morissette

The day job: Singer/songwriter

The backstory: There’s no doubt Morissette was born to be a star. The Ottawa-born singer started studying piano at age six and started writing her own songs by age nine. During her school-age years, she also appeared on Nickelodeon’s show “You Can't Do That on Television.” Today, Morissette is an award-winning artist best known for her song “Ironic.”

Jim Kyte

jim kyte

The day job: Retired professional hockey player

The backstory: If you don’t know who Jim Kyte is, you should. The 53-year-old made history as the first legally deaf player in the NHL. Kyte was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1982 and went on to play for a number of different teams including the Calgary Flames and the Ottawa Senators.

Jay Baruchel

jay baruchel

The day job: Actor/director

The backstory: Baruchel is one of the few Canadians celebs who will always call the Great White North his home. The 34-year-old was born in Ottawa, but was raised in Montreal and today lives in Toronto. Baruchel has a number of acting creds to his name, including “This is the End,” “How To Train Your Dragon,” and the TV series “Man Seeking Woman.” He’s also the director of “Goon: Last of the Enforcers,” in which he also stars.

Melinda Shankar


The day job: Actress

The backstory: Shankar was born in Ottawa, but raised in Orleans, a suburb of Ottawa. The 25-year-old actress attended Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School until Grade 11 before moving to Toronto. There, she was cast as the lead in YTV’s “How To Be Indie” and scored a role as Alli Bhandari in “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”

Tom Cruise

tom cruise

The day job: Actor

The backstory: Believe it or not, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars was actually raised in Ottawa. During his school-age years, Cruise moved to Canada’s capital so that his dad could work for the Canadian military. There, he attended Robert Hopkins Public School and eventually developed a passion for acting. Cruise was cast in his first big role at age 19 and the rest is history.

Nancy Greene

The day job: Former Olympic skier/senator of B.C.

The backstory: Greene is one impressive lady! Not only did the Ottawa-native compete in her first Olympic Games just two years after learning to ski, but she went on to win an Olympic gold in Women's Giant Slalom in 1968. That same year, the 73-year-old was named Canada’s Athlete of the Year for a second year in a row. Today, Greene serves as the senator of B.C., a position she has held since 2009.

Dan Aykroyd

dan aykroyd

The day job: Actor/comedian

The backstory: Aykroyd was born in Ottawa on Canada Day. After dropping out of Carleton University, he took up acting and joined Toronto’s Second City. There, he met and worked with Canadian legend John Candy, as well as other Hollywood greats like Bill Murray. Pretty soon, the 64-year-old became one of the original cast members of “Saturday Night Live” and went on to star in beloved films such as “Ghostbusters” and “My Girl.”

Patrick Chan

patrick chan

The day job: Figure skater

The backstory: The two-time Olympic silver medalist was born in O-Town. Chan won both medals at the age of 23 at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi — one for men’s singles and one for team figure skating. On top of that, Chan is also an eight-time winner at the Canadian National Skating Championships.

Paul Anka

paul anka

The day job: Singer/actor

The backstory: Anka was born and raised in Ottawa, but at the age of 15 he decided to leave his hometown to pursue a singing career. Luckily for him, he ended up meeting an executive at ABC/Paramount Records in New York and was offered a contract. Anka went on to become a teen heartthrob in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, and became known for songs like “Diana” and “Lonely Boy.”

Sarah Chalke

sarah chalke

The day job: Actress

The backstory: You might recognize her as Dr. Elliot Reid on “Scrubs” or Stella Zinman on “How I Met Your Mother,” but before Chalke became famous on the small screen, she started acting in Canadian television. Born in Ottawa but raised in Vancouver, Chalke started her career on the Canadian children’s show "KidZone." She then got her big break at age 17 when she took over the role of Becky Conner, the eldest daughter on the sitcom “Roseanne.”

Vik Sahay

vik sahay

The day job: Actor

The backstory: Sahay is an Ottawa-born actor best known as Kevin Calvin on the Canadian show “Radio Active.” He has also appeared as a series regular on the TV show “Chuck” and in movies such as “American Reunion” and “My Awkward Sexual Adventure.”

John Ralston Saul

john ralston saul

The day job: Philosopher/novelist

The backstory: The award-winning philosopher was born in Ottawa but studied at Montreal’s McGill University. Throughout his career, he has penned a number of essays and books, both fiction and non-fiction. Saul was also the president of PEN International — an association that promotes literature and freedom of expression — from 2009 to 2015. And did we mention he’s married to Adrienne Clarkson, the former Governor General of Canada?

Kelly Rowan

kelly rowan

The day job: Actress

The backstory: Best known for her role as Kirsten Cohen on “The O.C.,” Rowan was born in Ottawa but raised in Toronto. She attended Northern Secondary School before heading off to the University of Western Ontario. She then dropped out of school to pursue an acting career. Besides “The O.C.,” Rowan has appeared in “Hook” and the TV series “Perception.”

Deb Parent

deb parent

The day job: Activist

The backstory: Parent is an activist who helped organize Toronto’s Women’s March in January. Originally from Ottawa, the 60-year-old has helped protest for women’s and gay rights over the past 40 years. On top of that, Parent is also a self-defence instructor and DJ.

Tom Green

tom green actor

The day job: Actor/comedian

The backstory: Green was born in Pembroke, Ont., but later moved to Ottawa. He then studied broadcasting at Algonquin College before creating his own series “The Tom Green Show” and appearing in films like “Road Trip” and “Charlie’s Angels.”

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