Most Influential British Columbians in History

Comments 8 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last night on the Vancouver Sun’s site I came across a list of “British Columbia’s Best: A quest to determine the most influential person in BC’s history.” In November 2008 a poll including hundreds of names was setup and the results were then revealed in early January 2009 (while we were away in Iowa).


Photo credit: stephen_dyrgas on Flickr

According to VancouverSun.com voters, the most influential British Columbian is musician, Joey Keithley, lead singer of the punk rock band DOA. And while that is interesting, does it truly represent the province’s most influential citizen, greater than, say, Terry Fox or Emily Carr or W.A.C. Bennett, to name just a few?

The results aroused our curiosity, and we found that Sudden Death Record’s web site included a link to our voting form and urged Keithley fans to “vote once, vote often.” How often? Well, out of 2,912 votes cast for Keithley, some 1,268 votes were from IP addresses that registered multiple votes. In fact, one single IP address alone recorded 843 votes for Keithley. [Vancouver Sun]

Turns out, the Vancouver Sun realized there’s no fool-proof way to run a poll online unless you restrict votes for a single IP address, which helps a bit (like I did for the Best of 604 Awards). It also seems like they’re a bit annoyed that Joey “Sh*thead” Keithley of the legendary DOA tops their list, but I think it’s great. Online polls are going to end up being a popularity contest and although we all love some of the nominees, they aren’t around to post messages on their websites to encourage supporters to vote.

All the more power to Keithley, who is not only in DOA but he owns Sudden Death Records, ran for the BC Green Party, and plays events for peace or environmental causes around the globe. December 21st, 2003 was also declared “DOA Day” in Vancouver in honor of the band’s anniversary.

So just who exactly did he beat out for the top spot in our province’s history? Terry Fox came in second, followed by David Suzuki then Michael J. Fox and Ross Rebagliati who round out the top five. Emily Carr was sixth, then Rick Hansen, Peter ‘Dr. Peter’ Jepson-Young, Joni Mitchell, and founder of the BC Marijuana Party, Marc Emery, rounded out the top ten.

Further down the list I found Trevor Linden (who lives in Vancouver but is originally from Medicine Hat, Alberta), Jimmy Pattison (who owns… well everything), Captain George Vancouver (explorer and namesake of our City), Libby Davies (long-running MP for Vancouver East), Chief Dan George, Douglas Copeland (author, coined the term ‘Generation X‘), Atom Egoyan (award-winning film maker), and Red Robinson all in the top fifty.


Photo credit: joshbousel on Flickr

Some of my picks would also include WP Kinsella (68 on the list) “Gassy Jack” Deighton (70), William ‘Billy’ Barker cause I like Barkerville (89), and Canucks alum Tony Tanti (212)… just cause he’s Tony Tanti. There are also several news personalities on the list and I’m glad my top pick in that category, Mike McCardell (164) is included. His human interest stories at the end of the news hour each evening have warmed my heart since I was a wee tot.

The Sun’s poll does show that we don’t have too much love for former politicians (even though Harcourt is in the top fifty and Vander Zalm sits at number 106). But we love musicians – such as Nelly Furtado (11) Michael Buble (12) and Bryan Adams (16) and we love artists, Emily Carr (6) and Bill Reid (15). Unfortunately I can’t even Google some of the names I don’t recognize and they don’t even have wikipedia entries or websites with bios so a little extra research isn’t possible.

You can view the full list online and while you read it listen to some Dead Men Tell No Tales in the background.

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8 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JeffTuesday, March 24th, 2009 — 9:24am PST

    This reminds me of the Greatest Canadian of all time contest a few years ago where Winnipeg’s famed radio announcer won enough votes to reach #34. It was a huge joke cuz that he used in bits for at least the next two years.

    Online polls are good at predicting the next big music video or something, but for things like this, there are just too many people whose opinions matter that won’t take the time to vote.

    Note – two of BCs top picks also made CBC’s in 2004: http://www.cbc.ca/greatest/

  2. RoshanTuesday, March 24th, 2009 — 9:29am PST

    I would have picked Rick Hansen at the top. Terry Fox next. Two truly inspiration gentlemen.

  3. Miss604Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 — 9:30am PST

    @ Jeff – Yes, Terry Fox and David Suzuki were tops in Canada’s contest as well. I remember they did it in Britain and people weren’t happy that Winston Churchill topped the list of “100 Greatest Britons” in 2002 either.

  4. KatoTuesday, March 24th, 2009 — 9:55am PST

    I’m not sure if you being sarcastic when you said “tough guy” Tony Tanti. He was a pure goalscorer as before Pavel Bure arrived, he held the Canucks goal scoring record of 45. Long before the Sedins twins, Tanti teamed up with Swedish player Patrik Sundstrom to form our offensive duo.

  5. SarahTuesday, March 24th, 2009 — 12:37pm PST

    Mike McCardell is a dick in real life.

  6. Miss604Tuesday, March 24th, 2009 — 2:12pm PST

    @ Roshan I’d pick those two to top the list as well

    @ Sarah thanks for the comment – is there anyone positive you’d like to see on the list or at the top?

  7. DaveOThursday, March 26th, 2009 — 5:34pm PST

    Some other might be more revered in BC but Joe is rocking this contest because:

    1) Joe Shithead *is* the most influential BC’er outside of BC. He is more famous than Hasselhoff around the world – Terry Fox, David Suzuki, Rick Hansen, Bruno Gerussi etc. are all local heroes mostly. We are lucky to have awesome BC-ers but someone like Red Robinson isn’t nearly as internationally revered by legions of fans as Joey whose music has spawned thousands of garage bands

    2) Joe apparently has a posse and hacks social media campaigns with efficiency – Supr Hero Punk 2.0!

    PS Where Steve Fonyo’s votes anyhow? The guy gets no respect.

  8. JordanThursday, March 26th, 2009 — 5:54pm PST

    Not even a die-hard DOA fan, I too think its cool that Joe Shithead tops the list.

    And if I may, there *is* a way to hold an online poll and restrict votes to just one per email address. I’d be talking over my head if I tried to explain exactly how, but Strutta.com allows one vote per entry per email address by default. Woot!

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