Mark Messier, Peter McAuslan among Canadians added to Order of Canada

Former player Mark Messier waves to the crowd during the Edmonton Oilers farewell ceremony at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday April 6, 2016. Messier will be one of 99 Canadians to receive the Order of Canada on its 50th anniversary. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Rideau Hall is adding 99 new members to the Order of Canada, which turns 50 this year. Gov.-Gen. David Johnston said the individuals on today’s list, just like those appointed half a century ago, “are truly inspiring as they have helped to build the smart and more caring nation that we, as Canadians, are all so proud to call home.”

Here is a look at a few of them:

Mark Messier, hockey player

Messier said his first glimpse of what it meant to be Canadian came from the stories of relatives who had served in the Air Force. His second glimpse came in 1972 when at age 11 he was enthralled with the rest of the country by the “Summit Series” that pitted Canadian hockey heroes against their Soviet counterparts.

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Messier would join the ranks of Team Canada for three Canada Cup tournaments, one World Championship, and one World Cup.

“I’ve always felt being a Canadian really meant something to me and being able to represent Canada in the international competitions like I did, was something that I’ll never forget and the pride that I felt being selected for those teams,” Messier said.

He captained his hometown Edmonton Oilers, leading them to five Stanley Cup championships, then led the New York Rangers to another title in 1994, making him the first and so far only player to captain two different teams to the title.

He also captained the Vancouver Canucks, making him one of three players to wear the C for three different teams. And the National Hockey League now hands out an annual leadership award named after the man nicknamed “Moose.”

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Growing up, he just wanted to be a hockey player like his idols Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur, Messier said. Now, like them, he is also part of the Order of Canada.

“I really aspired to follow in their footsteps and become a National Hockey League player first and foremost, but also try to conduct myself off the ice in a dignified manner that can help people along the way … and I guess in the end become a role model for other kids trying to do the same thing.”

Peter McAuslan, entrepreneur

Years ago, McAuslan was asked why he decided, at age 42, to open a micro-brewery in a working class neighbourhood in Montreal.

The answer? It’s everybody’s dream in this country to be a brewer, he said.

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McAuslan started the brewery that bears his name in 1988, brewing St-Ambroise pale ale with a staff of four at a time when larger competitors were brewing lagers that dominated the Quebec beer scene. The brewery is now a multimillion-dollar business that employs a staff of more than 50. McAuslan served as president of the Quebec Microbrewery Association, the Brewers Association of Canada and the Association of Brewers in the United States.

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Now out of the beer business, he has also helped support the arts and culture in Montreal, and worked with McGill University to create a chair in Canadian-Scottish studies.

“There is a relationship between one’s business activities and one’s community that’s a – I’ll use the word – sacred relationship, that one can never assume your clients are there just because you’re making a good product. You have to go beyond that and create a close relationship with your community. It’s a business responsibility.”

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Hieu C. Truong, engineer

Every time Truong reaches for a loonie or toonie, he takes a close look to ensure perfection from the machines he helped create.

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Originally from Vietnam, Truong started in the Royal Canadian Mint in 1978 on the floor working late nights fixing the machines that made Canadian coins, rising to be director of engineering.

It was under Truong’s guidance – and all that time spent working on the Mint’s machines – that his engineering team created a patented bi-metallic coin locking mechanism to create the toonie.

Mark Messier, Peter McAuslan among Canadians added to Order of Canada - image

One of the Mint’s most celebrated innovators, the 76-year-old retired in 2014.

“My shining light when I was in the Mint was to work in such a way to keep Canada at the top of the technology and be recognized as number 1 in the world as the top country in minting. We were successful in that regard because all the mints (worldwide) look up to Canada as the mint to imitate or to follow,” he said.

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“I’m proud of that fact, not because of myself, I’m proud for Canada and Canadians. I’m proud that Canada is being regarded as the leader in minting.”

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