Bobby Curtola, C.M.
(Spruce Grove, Alberta)
Member of the Order of Canada
In the very early days of the Canadian pop music scene, he rose to the top of the charts. He proved to Canadian artists that it was possible to pursue a career in the recording industry without leaving Canada and still enjoy international success. Throughout his thirty-five year musical career, he has given boundless time, enthusiasm and talent to various telethons across the country. He helps raise millions of dollars every year for a host of non-profit charities and organizations.
Click here to read a news story about Bobby's induction into the Order of Canada!
Comprising orders, decorations, medals, armorial bearings, and other heraldic devices, the Canadian Honours System was established on July 1, 1967 with the creation of the Order of Canada. The Order of Canada is the keystone of our system of honours. It pays tribute to Canadians who exemplify the highest qualities of citizenship and whose contributions enrich the lives of their contemporaries. The latin motto of this fraternity of merit — desiderantes meliorem patriam — proclaims the aspirations of its members who, in their lives and work, have shown that they "desire a better country."
Order of Canada recognizes great Canadians
By Nathan Vardi and Dave Rogers
The Ottawa Citizen
Friday, May 8, 1998
Entertainers Bobby Curtola, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Gordie Tapp joined fellow Canadians from fields as varied as medical research, sports and broadcasting yesterday to receive the Order of Canada at a ceremony at Rideau Hall.
One by one, the 40 accomplished individuals rose from their seats as their names were called. They bowed before Gov.-Gen. Romeo LeBlanc and his wife, Diana Fowler LeBlanc, and accepted Canada's highest civilian honour. "Can you believe this would happen to me? I am all shook up," said Mr. Curtola, a pop singer who made a name for himself in the 1960s. "It's a thrill. I thank you, Canada."
Mr. Curtola was singled out for his tireless charity work for muscular dystrophy and service clubs across Canada, and for proving that Canadian artists could successfully pursue a career in the recording industry.
The 53-year-old singer, who now lives in Edmonton, was 15 when his first record, Hand in Hand With You, made him a star. He went from pumping gas at a Thunder Bay gas station to appearing on The Bob Hope Show.
Despite being the first Canadian artist to receive a gold record, Mr. Curtola showed signs of stage fright yesterday while receiving this most recent award.
"Talk about nerves. I was sweating up there," said Mr. Curtola, who still performs before live crowds on a regular basis.
Robert MacNeil, a retired PBS journalist in the United States, was also overwhelmed by the award. Mr. MacNeil was cited for bringing a Canadian perspective to discussions of American issues and for representing Canada in the international media.
The renowned broadcast journalist, who spent many years in Ottawa as a student and a beginning reporter, said yesterday's ceremony was a humbling experience.
"They throw a lot of awards at you when you're a journalist, but this is unique and entirely satisfying," said Mr. MacNeil, who now writes fiction in New York. "It's marvellous to hear the diversity of accomplishment and contribution represented in that ceremony."
That sentiment was repeated by Buffy Sainte-Marie who became an officer of the order. She said "All across Canada there are thousands and thousands of incredibly accomplished giving, sharing people who are developing new things ... It just makes me very proud to be associated with Canadians."
A musician of international stature and a native rights activist, she was born of Cree parents on the Piapot Reserve in Saskatchewan and now lives in Hawaii. She has been a major force in developing and funding an interactive educational exchange linking aboriginal children with others around the world through the Internet.
Charles Dubin, a former chief justice of the Ontario Supreme Court, was given the Order of Canada for his overall contribution to the Canadian judiciary, but most Canadians remember him for his inquiry into the use of enhancement-performing drugs.
The 1990 Dubin Report followed Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson's positive steroid test at the 1988 Olympics that caused him to be stripped of his gold medal. Eight years later, Mr. Dubin says he believes the report has been effective.
"Concerning drug use in sports, I think we achieved quite a bit, although not completely so," said Mr. Dubin. "I think a lot of money needs to go into lower-level sport because it is a unifying force in Canada."
The contribution of athletes to the country was acknowledged yesterday in the Order of Canada award to Donald Jackson, gold medal winner at the 1962 World Figure Skating Championships in Prague.
"Winning the world championship back in 1962 was a bonus. I did my job and I was rewarded by the judges," said Mr. Jackson, who is the executive director of Ottawa's Minto Skating Club. "This time it is the country, not the judges, honouring me."
Gordie Tapp, the comic hayseed who brought country music to Canadian television during the 1950s and tickled millions of North American funny bones as Cousin Clem on Hee Haw received the Order of Canada not for years of entertainment but for years of unpaid work for medical charities.
During a Medical Research Council of Canada reception before the Rideau Hall ceremony, Mr. Tapp said the laughter Cousin Clem provoked was good medicine, but his fund-raising for hospitals and medical research have made the country a better place.
At 75, he is as busy as ever, performing and raising funds for charities such as muscular dystrophy research and Easter seals.
For several years he has chaired the Canadian muscular dystrophy campaign. He raises money for U.S. Shriners' hospitals for children and for the Tim Horton Foundation for children in Canada.
Mr. Tapp said he has learned a lot about how people cope with disease and hardship during his years of medical charity work."I have a friend who has muscular dystrophy. It is so debilitating that it breaks your heart. But with all the research that is being done, they are getting closer to a cure every year.
"When you raise money for medical research, you know it is going in the right place," Mr. Tapp said. "It is a great honour to receive the Order of Canada."
Others who received the award included Quebec kidney researcher Dr. Serge Carriere, Zoie Gardner, an 80-year-old Edmonton woman who has cared for physically and mentally disabled children since she was 17, and Robert Giroux of Gatineau, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
Calgary Flames owner Harley Norman Hotchkiss raised money for the Foothills Provincial General Hospital and the Alberta Paraplegic Foundation. Jacki Ralph Jamieson of North Vancouver, a three-time cancer survivor, has raised more than $800,000 for breast cancer research with Between Dances, a CD featuring Canadian female vocalists.
David Lloyd Johnston of Montreal was principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University and chairman of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. George Szasz of West Vancouver is a pioneer in the field of fertility and sexuality of people with physical disabilities.
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