"Let it be once understood that the sterling characteristics of the Scottish people have come down to them as an inheritance-the outcome of hardship, penury, conflict, toil and suffering during many centuries-and there is at once a rational explanation of their success at home and abroad. These characteristics, in fact, are so much mental and moral capital stored up in the race by the accumulated efforts of their forbears in times gone by."
~ W. J. Rattray [The Scot in British North America]
What have the Scottish people contributed to our modern world? A better question would be to ask what they haven't contributed. Scots have been the driving force behind everything from the bicycle to penicillin, modern economic liberalism to television. And when they began immigrating to the far corners of the British Empire, they took their attitudes, thoughts, and ideas abroad with them. The egalitarian attitudes they brought to one part of the New World helped to fuel the American Revolution. And in the northern reaches of British North America, Scots played a considerable role in shaping the country that would develop into the Dominion of Canada.
The story of the Scottish people in Canada is really the story of Canada. There is no facet of Canadian life Scottish immigrants have not impacted. They founded settlements and communities; they became titans of business and industry. Scotsmen were the pioneers who opened up the vast Canadian interior for settlement; they were the statesmen who led the British colony into Confederation. They guided Canada through its darkest hours of depression and war, and headed reformation movements when corruption needed to be confronted. And the three driven women that smashed through the glass ceiling of federal politics all claimed Scottish heritage. Fierce Scottish blood has run through the veins of Canada's greatest leaders, its innovators, its pioneers. Yet how many Canadians are aware of the great debt this country owes to its Scottish heritage? The following section is by no means comprehensive, but is meant to provide a glimpse at how much people of Scottish descent have impacted Canada from the time of its discovery to today, while also highlighting some of Scotland's most famous figures.