The Influentials 2017

From media barons to tech titans, culture czars to rap stars: 50 power wielders who are changing the world as we know it

Canada’s 150th year was, in a word, full. There was a giant duck, four tiny penguins, a royal redhead and a new orange crush. Margaret Atwood went supernova, twice. We met Dart Guy, then Crane Girl. Courageous Indigenous leaders emerged, bearing vital, uncomfortable historical truths. Two local playwrights made Gander, Newfoundland, the talk of Broadway. An AI demigod led a migration from Silicon Valley. But no one had a bigger impact than the new occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And in these head-shaking, crazy-making times, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, has emerged as the last best defender of the post-WWII international order. While the PM played amiable figurehead, Freeland handled the scrappy stuff: negotiating NAFTA and a landmark European trade deal, calling out the leaders of Russia, North Korea, Venezuela and Myanmar, and declaring Canada a leader in a world suddenly lacking a north star. Since Trump was elected, Freeland has been to the U.S. more than 20 times, putting her on a first-name basis with Rex, Wilbur, James and, yes, Donald. For those reasons and many more, Freeland is our most influential person of the year.


CHRYSTIA FREELAND

Minister of foreign affairs

1 Less than a year into her job as minister of foreign affairs, Freeland has emerged as an international rock star. Likable yet tough as nails, a charismatic speaker and a shrewd backroom negotiator, she’s an optimistic avatar for Canada. And in a global order lacking leadership, she’s doing her part to fill the void. She helped orchestrate a plan to ferry gay Chechens to safe haven in Canada. She condemned the treatment of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. She expressed dismay about North Korea’s inane foreign policy. And she spoke out against Venezuela’s descent into dictatorship. Oh, and as the leader of the NAFTA negotiations, she represents the interests of every Canadian who’s ever bought anything. Friends in high places: Former Harvard president Larry Summers, Oxford historian Margaret MacMillan, former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown, Woodbridge boss David Thomson and billionaire investor George Soros. Click here to read the full feature profile.


DRAKE

Impresario

2 The guy who started from the bottom continues to redefine being on top—transcending any one label (rapper, Raptor rep, mogul, booze baron) and, as always, taking his hometown along for the ride. In March, More Life shattered Apple Music’s records with 89.9 million streams in its first 24 hours. Then he broke the record for the most Billboard Music Award wins in one night with 13 and became the only artist to have a song in the Billboard Top 100 eight years straight. Other 2017 wins include OVO fashion collaborations with Air Jordan, Clarks and Canada Goose, an appearance in LeBron James’s Vince Carter doc, and a dalliance with J.Lo (on every young MC’s bucket list). Ranking fourth on Forbes’ list of the year’s highest-paid entertainers, he also collects cheques from Apple, Sprite, Nike and—yep, still—Degrassi. Up next: An album that he has said will feature the Weeknd, and a new restaurant downtown.


JOHN TORY

Mayor

3 Call him Mr. Reasonable. Heading into an election year, Tory has pleased progressives by supporting safe injection sites, a climate change plan and inclusionary zoning. He’s kept the fiscal conservatives at bay by not raising taxes beyond inflation. He’s continued to tackle gridlock through ticketing blitzes against drivers parking in bike lanes and pushing Queen’s Park to sign off on traffic wardens. Of course, the priority is finding billions more for SmartTrack than what Ottawa has put on the table. Up next: With Doug Ford running for mayor, Tory will need every centre-left vote he can get. Expect him to court progressives in 2018.


MEGHAN MARKLE

Actress, future princess

4 Not every woman can cause an international incident just by putting on a pair of ripped jeans, but that’s exactly what happened when Markle showed up with Prince Harry at the 2017 Invictus Games. The appearance sparked indignation from royal etiquette experts, and fashion pundits fell all over each other to find out where the jeans were from (Mother denim, and yes, they are sold out). Such is the new normal for the 36-year-old Suits star. Toronto may be bidding cheerio to our favourite future royal sooner rather than later. Friends in high places: Tennis ace Serena Williams.


GERALD BUTTS

Principal secretary to the prime minister

5 Think Steve Bannon but less grumpy, more hygienic and centre-left. As principal secretary to Justin Trudeau, Butts is the grand architect of the PMO. In 2017, his priority was U.S. relations. Before Trump was sworn in, Butts and chief of staff Katie ­Telford held 10 closed-door talks with the president elect’s transition team to dissuade them (mostly successfully) from imposing crippling tariffs on Canadian goods. Then Butts and Telford formed a nerve centre staffed with experts on the U.S. to monitor and react quickly to all things Trumpy. Friends in high places: Rana Sarkar, whom Butts plucked for a diplomatic post in San Francisco.


KATIE TELFORD

Chief of staff, PMO

6 If Gerald Butts is the visionary, Katie Telford is the executor, putting policy ideas into action. Her frequent phone calls with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, helped derail POTUS’s early attempt to withdraw from NAFTA. And when the PMO decided it needed some scandal-free Canada-themed face time with the new president, Telford devised the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders with Ivanka Trump and female Canadian business minds at the White House. Up next: Getting the Liberals re-elected in 2019. On her watch, expect to see more women than ever running under the party banner.


KATHLEEN WYNNE

Premier

7 Stubborn scandals, subterranean poll numbers and a popular opponent: most politicians would head to the cottage and never come back. Instead, Wynne dug in. She reduced GO-to-TTC transit fares, implemented a $15 minimum wage, made pharmacare free for Ontarians under 25 and green-lit a basic income pilot. The clearest sign she’s in it to win it: she spurned then-BFF John Tory by ixnaying his road tolls idea, which would’ve pleased Torontonians but cost Wynne votes everywhere else. Friends in high places: U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.


DOMINIC BARTON

Global managing partner, McKinsey

8 What do you do when you’re elected prime minister on a plan to run $10-billion deficits at a time of teensy annual growth? You hire the world’s best-connected economic mind and beg for help. The chair of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth—a group of 14 business whizzes and academics—­delivers advice that Trudeau and Morneau may not want to hear. Barton told the PM he was wrong to roll back the retirement age to 65 when so many can contribute up to 67. He warned of the need to offset the impact of an aging population by upping ­immigration ­levels to 450,000 a year. And he’s pushed Morneau to put as much as $35 billion into the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to attract foreign capital. Friends in high places: Former British PM Gordon Brown, former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak and BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.


MARGARET ATWOOD

Author

9 In these early end times, Atwood has never seemed more prescient. Her dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale, shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list in February, and that was before the TV adaptation nabbed eight Emmys. Atwood appeared onstage, and received a standing ovation and countless celebrity Twitter shoutouts. She went viral again in the fall when the TV iteration of Alias Grace premiered. The “prophet of dystopia,” as the New Yorker crowed in a glowy spring profile, has global reach: this year, activists in D.C., Warsaw, Dublin and beyond donned red handmaid robes and white bonnets to protest anti-abortion legislation and advocate for women’s rights. Up next: Season 1 of The Handmaid’s Tale ended where the novel did, and the showrunners have sought Atwood’s Midas touch as they write Season 2.


GEOFFREY HINTON

Chief scientific advisor, Vector Institute

10 When Google hired ­Hinton, the so-called god­father of artificial intelligence, in 2013, he didn’t move to Silicon Valley; Google let him work part-time from here instead. Hinton developed artificial neural networks, which imitate how the human brain works. His breakthrough enables machines to think like humans, bringing to life the stuff of Star Trek ­plotlines: self-driving vehicles and smartphones that can diagnose cancer. The field’s most brilliant minds have come to Toronto just to work with Hinton. He helped found the Vector Institute, an AI research centre that’s fetched $90 million from the government and another $80 million from tech companies. Up next: Turning Vector into a full-fledged research hub. Eventually, it’s expected to employ 50 faculty and post-docs, enroll more than 1,000 grad students and support an undergraduate AI stream.


DAVID THOMSON

Chairman, Thomson Reuters

11 Thomson’s empire is worth more than $27 billion (U.S.)—in other words, he’s twice as rich as Rupert Murdoch—and includes assets as varied as pro sports (the Winnipeg Jets) and urban development (the company overhauling Union Station). But his real wealth spinner is Thomson Reuters, which continues to post multibillion-dollar revenues. Thomson’s latest bet is a technology centre in the Entertainment District, where he plans to hire as many as 1,500 people. Charity circuit: He donated 12,000 photos to the National Gallery of Canada for its ­Canadian Photography Institute.


CHARLES KHABOUTH

CEO, Ink Entertainment

12 If you’ve ever had sexy, chic, grown-up fun in Toronto, you have two people to thank: the unknown ancient who discovered how to distill alcohol, and Charles Khabouth, the Lebanese-Canadian nightlife impresario who has done more than perhaps any other person to transform the way Toronto dines and parties over the past three decades. Patria, Weslodge, Byblos, La Société and Cabana Pool Bar are all Khabouth productions. Now, the Khabouth experience doesn’t end at 2 a.m. This year, he opened Bisha, his luxury hotel and condo tower on Blue Jays Way. Up next: He’ll try to expand Rebel, his nightclub on ­Polson Pier, whose liquor licence application is being opposed by neighbours.


BRENDAN SHANAHAN

President, Toronto Maple Leafs

13 Shanahan inherited a club that embodied a losing culture: they stank on the ice, made bad trades, drafted poorly and aired petty recriminations in public. The “Shanaplan” was simple: clean house, hire smart people (including universally revered coach Mike Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello), develop talent (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and others), and be honest with fans. That’s all it took—that, and Shanahan’s ability to shoulder the pressure. He’s given the city something it hasn’t known in more than 15 years: post-season optimism. Charity circuit: Shanahan, whose father died of Alzheimer’s in 1990, received a Champion Award from the Alzheimer’s Association Rita Hayworth Gala for his efforts to promote awareness of the disease.


VITALIK BUTERIN

Founder, Ethereum

14 The unlikely superstar of the cryptocurrency craze is a skeleton-thin 23-year-old programmer from Toronto. Buterin made a name for himself by co-founding Bitcoin Magazine in 2011. A few years ago, while studying computer science at the University of Waterloo, he decided he could improve upon Bitcoin and created Ethereum, a techno-utopian ecosystem where people can send and receive money, build apps, and buy and sell goods and services online, all without involving banks, governments or corporations. The worth of Ethereum’s currency has soared from $10 to roughly $400 since the beginning of 2017, and its market cap is now $39 billion (Cdn.), the same as Airbnb’s. Up next: ­Making the Ethereum network larger, more secure and more mainstream.


KENT MONKMAN

Artist

15 The buzziest exhibit of 2017 wasn’t at the AGO or the ROM, but at the tiny Art Museum at the University of Toronto, where the Cree artist launched Shame and Prejudice, a show depicting bloody beaver hunts, murdered Indigenous women and drag queens in Louboutins. Unlike many First Nations artists who boycotted the sesquicentennial, Monkman used Canada 150 as an opportunity. He showed gallerygoers how white people have annihilated the Indigenous way of life while ridiculing the settlers who did the decimating. The show smashed attendance records and cemented Monkman as the most provocative voice in the campaign for Indigenous resilience. Up next: Monkman is taking the exhibit cross-country, with stops at museums and galleries in Charlottetown, Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver.


THE WEEKND

Rapper

16 It’s cocky as hell to call your album Starboy, but Abel Tesfaye backs it up. The title track went to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, and the record went platinum by June. He debuted (another) H&M collection in Sept­ember, and his romance with Selena Gomez filled the tabloids. He referenced his hometown in his lyrics, shot a music video in the Toronto Reference Library and gave the opening slot at his ACC show to emerging Rexdale rapper Nav, in the same way Drake used to champion him. Charity circuit: He donated $100,000 (U.S.) to a maternity and children’s medical facility in Uganda.


OLIVIA NUAMAH

Executive director, Pride Toronto

17 As Pride director, Nuamah represents hundreds of thousands of people, their voices often disparate and high-­decibel. She’s also the custodian of one of the world’s ­biggest Pride parties. She made peace with Chief Saunders, held community meetings, hired a new team and got to work. By the time Pride Month began, many of its big issues were ­handled: the chronically underfunded Blockorama stage received double the money, and First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde helped lead the parade, putting an even bigger emphasis on inclusion. Friends in high places: Cineplex president Salah Bachir and human rights lawyer Douglas Elliott.


TANYA TAGAQ

Artist, activist

18 She lost out on this year’s Polaris Music Prize, but that didn’t stop nominee (and previous winner) Tanya Tagaq from providing the evening’s most memorable moment—a performance of Nirvana’s “Rape Me,” during which dozens of women in red dresses stood as Tagaq wailed “I’m not the only one,” on repeat. This sort of unflinching, in-your-face demonstration is what we’ve come to expect from the Nunavut-born, Toronto-based Inuk throat singer. She has been a force in bringing Indigenous causes to the mainstream. Up next: A collaboration with the National Film Board on a biographical documentary called Throat.


MICHAEL SERBINIS

Founder, League

19 Ask anyone in Toronto’s tech scene and they’ll tell you: Serbinis is Toronto’s best hope at creating the next Google, Uber or Shopify. He already hatched one success story—the ebook company Kobo, which he sold for $315 million—and now he’s looking for another with League, a workplace benefits and insurance platform for your smartphone that sidesteps paperwork. He’s clearly onto something: Doctors Without Borders, Loblaw Digital, Powered by Search and others have signed on. Side gigs: Serbinis helped persuade the minister of innovation, science and economic development to design a fast-track visa for skilled immigrants, making it easier for tech talent to move here.


STEPHAN JOST

CEO, Art Gallery of Ontario

20 Attracting visitors is a headache for most museums, but in 2017, the AGO brought in the third-highest attendance in its history, and memberships jumped six per cent. That’s a serious achievement for a guy just one year into the job. Every. Now. Then. Reframing Nationhood asked tough questions about what it means to be Canadian amid Canada 150 revelry. Other exhibits included a Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective and a monstrous Guillermo del Toro show. Up next: Jost knows how to draw a crowd, and spring’s Yayoi Kusama exhibit—including six rooms of immersive, Wonderland-esque ­landscapes—will become the most Instagrammed corner of the city.


PATRICK BROWN

Leader, Ontario Conservative Party

21 While Wynne has embarked on a cross-province spending spree, Brown has quietly been saving up. He helped the PCs raise $16 million in 2016 alone and grew party member­ship from 10,000 to 130,000. Heading into an election year, the polls say he’s positioned to win, so long as he doesn’t make the kind of policy gaffes that doomed Hudak and Tory. Friends in high places: Wayne Gretzky and Indian PM Narendra Modi.


HEATHER REISMAN

CEO, Indigo

22 In the midst of the slow death of bricks-and-mortar stores, Indigo is the one big-box retailer Torontonians won’t stop loving. This past year, annual revenues surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Under Reisman’s watch, Indigo has evolved from basic bookshelves to a full-blown lifestyle shopping mecca. Nearly 20 years since she started endorsing her favourite books, her Heather’s Pick remains the most sought-after seal of approval in Canadian publishing. The company has plans for a U.S. expansion, with Reisman reportedly eyeing Montclair, New Jersey, as the site for Indigo’s first U.S. store. Charity circuit: She co-founded the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation, with the aim to make Canadian children the most literate in the world, alongside ­astronaut Chris Hadfield and former McGill vice-chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum.


JAGMEET SINGH

Federal leader, NDP

23 For years, Singh was known mostly for his double-breasted suits and resplendent pagris. GQ featured him in February and BuzzFeed declared him “the most stylish politician in Canada by like a million kilometres.” This year, Singh became known for much more. The former defence lawyer went viral for his deft, love-laden neutralizing of a racist protestor en route to winning the NDP leadership by a country mile. Stars like Seth Rogen and Ava DuVernay tweeted congrats. Up next: Winning over Quebec, where a turban-wearing leader is a tough sell.


BEN ZIFKIN

CEO, Hubba

24 Hubba is a matchmaker, connecting sellers—from mom-and-pop operations to giant manufacturers like Unilever—with independent retailers and big-box stores. The company has 60,000 ­clients in more than 100 countries and $60 million in funding. Zifkin’s success is contagious: six of his former Hubba underlings have founded start-ups, like the software company Polyform Labs and home care brand Mavencare. Charity ­circuit: Hubba is a member of the Upside Foundation, an organization that encourages tech companies to donate company equity to charity.


MARK MACHIN

President, CPPIB

25 Machin announced his arrival in Toronto late last year by buying one of Toronto’s most architecturally significant private residences: Integral House, an ultra-­modern, 18,000-square-foot Rosedale mansion, next door to David Thomson. As the person in charge of Canada’s $327-billion retirement nest egg, his decisions affect every working Canadian. Machin oversaw a joint $1.6-billion (U.S.) investment in student housing throughout the United States and a $1.1-­billion (U.S.) takeover of Ascot, a British insurance underwriter. Up next: The federal government is planning to enlarge the CPP, which is expected to swell the fund’s coffers to the tune of $15.8 trillion by 2090. That’ll only increase Machin’s clout.


DAVID FRUM

Senior Editor, the Atlantic

26 Before the 2016 presidential election, Frum was best known as the guy who coined George W. Bush’s “axis of evil.” Afterward, he began using his platform at the Atlantic magazine to build, piece by piece, an impressive intellectual critique of Trumpism in all its forms. Although Frum’s roots are here, he has become one of America’s most indispensable columnists—a rare and persuasive voice for ­rational, intelligent conservatism. In the past year, he has lobbed countless critical broadsides at the American president: on Trump’s response (or lack thereof) to Russian meddling, on his firing of FBI director James Comey and on his bizarre feud with NFL players. In the process, Frum has become a ­crossover figure, influential with both conservatives and liberals, all of whom can find something to like in his voluminous tweets. He’ll capitalize on his notability with a new book, Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic, out in January. Side gigs: In his downtime, Frum plays the country squire in Prince Edward County, where he and his wife built a lakeside home.


JOHN RUFFOLO

CEO, OMERS Ventures

27 Toronto’s ascendant tech industry is overflowing with breakout success stories, and John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures—the $800-million pension fund fuelled by Ontario teachers and municipal workers—is the money behind many of them. To date, he’s thrown more than $340 million at 31 companies, including Klue, a Vancouver-based digital periscope for businesses to track their competitors, and Wave, an all-in-one financial platform for entrepreneurs. Up next: His latest obsessions include genomics and synthetic biology, a fledgling branch of science that involves ­tinkering with natural organisms.


WILL FLEISSIG

CEO, Waterfront Toronto

28 Fleissig has begun to deliver on his promise to overhaul the waterfront. He secured a $50-million (U.S.) partnership with a Google sister company, Sidewalk Labs, to plan Quayside, a five-hectare mixed-use neighbourhood along the eastern waterfront that will create thousands of jobs and provide up to 800 eco-friendly, affordable housing units across the Port Lands. He was instrumental in persuading all levels of government to pony up $1.2 billion for Port Lands flood protection. Side gig: Overseeing the design and gradual unveiling of the Bentway, a public gathering spot in the long-neglected space under the Gardiner.


GUILLERMO DEL TORO

Director

29 Del Toro is the darling of Hollywood North. Over the past two decades, he’s spent much of each year in Toronto, filmed many of his movies and TV shows in the GTA, and sung the city’s praises, all the while filling our film industry with jobs and luring La-La Landers north of the border. So it felt like a hometown triumph when critics hailed del Toro’s Toronto-shot TIFF 2017 entry, the dark merman romance The Shape of Water, as his best work since Pan’s Labyrinth and a surefire best picture contender. Del Toro’s local footprint only grew this year: his family spends most of the year living in the east end, and the AGO debuted a massive exhibition celebrating his oeuvre. Up next: Releasing Uprising, a Toronto-shot Pacific Rim sequel starring Star Wars actor John Boyega.


JEN AGG

Restaurateur

30 The city’s most prolific and frequently imitated independent restaurant guru just had her biggest year yet with the opening of Grey Gardens—where the food is almost as gorgeous as the space—a New Yorker piece about Weinstein-type behaviour in restaurant kitchens and the publication of her memoir, I Hear She’s a Real Bitch, which just came out in audio. In it, the Black Hoof founder describes her ascent amid the toxic bro culture of Toronto’s restaurant industry. Both an entertaining read and a battle cry, the book also includes a line drawing of Agg’s vagina (because, obviously). And if you don’t like it—she doesn’t care. Friends in high places: Fellow industry critic Anthony Bourdain wrote her book blurb.


CAMERON BAILEY

Artistic director, TIFF

31 In 2016, TIFF hit a bump: attendance was down and the festival was dogged by complaints that it had become too commercial. Bailey acted fast. He thinned the lineup by 20 per cent and chopped venues to make the festival more exclusive and walkable, like Cannes. Now, with CEO Piers Handling stepping down, Bailey’s profile grows, but so does his responsibility. If his past work is any indicator—he brought hits like Moonlight, Dunkirk and Slumdog Millionaire to the city—he’ll be just fine. Side gigs: He sits on Western’s advisory council for the School of Arts and Humanities.


ROBYN DOOLITTLE

Investigative journalist

32 The 2017 federal budget didn’t credit Doolittle when it earmarked $100 million for a national strategy on ­gender-based violence, but it may as well have. It did cite her work, “Unfounded,” her sprawling Globe investigation that revealed that sexual assault charges are dropped far more often than those of other crimes. Within a week, the prime minister had pledged his support and police forces across Canada had announced plans to review more than 10,000 such cases. Up next: Reverberations. StatsCan is changing its crime reporting protocol, and the OPP has unveiled a new Victim Response Support Strategy.


ZOË DODD

Harm-reduction worker, South Riverdale Community Health Centre

33 In August, Dodd, a health-care worker who’d seen dozens of her friends die from opioid overdose, set up a prevention tent in Moss Park, where she and colleagues have since reversed 100 overdoses. The province quickly committed $222 million to fund rapid-access clinics and safe injection sites, then launched an opioid task force. Side gigs: Dodd is a founding member of the Frontline Worker Support Group.


NAOMI KLEIN

Author and activist

34 Toronto’s best-known social activist is using the Trump era to her advantage. In No Is Not Enough—which was nominated for a 2017 National Book Award and topped the NYT non-fiction bestseller list in July, Klein argues Trump’s presidency is not the time for resistance, but is instead an opportunity for progressives to unite. Charity circuit: Klein rallied her 440,000 Twitter followers to raise funds to help activists build solar-powered houses in the path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline in B.C.


BARONESS VON SKETCH

Sketech comedians

35 Saturday Night Live was the second-funniest sketch comedy show of 2017 thanks to Aurora Browne, Meredith MacNeill, Carolyn Taylor and Jennifer Whalen. Subversive, slyly feminist and hella funny, Baroness von Sketch Show sends up the realities of contemporary womanhood: mom jeans, female-targeted advertising tropes, book clubs and why turning 40 means the freedom to go naked in the change room. Up next: ­Production on Season 3 is currently underway.


JEFF STOBER

Founder and CEO, Drake Hotel Properties

36 Expansion is a perpetual state for the city’s visionary hub-hunter. This year, he launched the Drake Commissary, a massive restaurant-bakery-store and industrial kitchen in the Junction. It was the city’s must-hit brunch spot over the summer, spawning lineups that would make Bang Bang ice cream blush. Up next: Mini Bar, a casual breakfast-through-happy-hour spot beside Drake One Fifty, and a five-storey addition at the original Queen West hotel.


RUPI KAUR

Poet

37 She’s been called the pop star of poetry, and for good reason: her haunting debut collection, Milk and Honey, became a New York Times bestseller overnight, and her much-awaited follow-up, The Sun and Her Flowers, reached bookstores in October. It was an instant hit—especially among her 1.7 million Instagram followers. Friends in high places: Gloria Steinem, the Nepalese-American designer Prabal Gurung and the singer Sam Smith are all admirers.


GRANT VAN GAMEREN

Chef

38 Drop-dead gorgeous tapas bar? Check. Greasy spoon? Check. Street-style Mexican, complete with spiced grasshoppers? Check. Van Gameren expanded his empire again with a mescal-minded ­cocktail bar, ­PrettyUgly, and an eastern European dining hall, ­Tennessee Tavern, that feels a bit like a Legion hall, but with way better schnitzel and a much hipper soundtrack. Van Gameren also does weddings now, designing menus for catering juggernaut Victor Dries. Up next: Quetzal, a taco-free Mexican eatery at College and Bathurst.


ALESSIA CARA

Pop star

39 It was a staggering year for Brampton’s Alessia Cara, whose signature wokeness has solidified her position as Canada’s biggest pop export since Bieber. Her debut album, Know-It-All, went platinum in May, and “Scars to Your Beautiful” stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 for 43 weeks. She turned in dazzling appearances on Saturday Night Live and the MTV VMAs. Up next: Cara will join Shania Twain, Fergie and Boy George as a judge on The Launch, CTV’s take on The Voice, in January.


LES MALLINS

Founder and president, Streetcar Developments

40 The ex-accountant has built his empire in the east end with affordable, mid-rise condos along major streetcar routes. The crown jewel: the Broadview Hotel, formerly the peeler joint Jilly’s, which is now a trendy cultural hub with a rooftop restaurant, a charming patio and 58 designer rooms. He’s doing for the east what Jeff Stober and Margie Zeidler did for the west. Up next: Riverside Square, a condo that aims to reinvent the no-man’s land at Queen East and the DVP.


DANIELLE MARTIN

Physician, author and activist

41 When Bernie Sanders needed an expert to help pitch his single-payer medicare plan, he looked to Canada’s most articulate voice on the subject. Martin has built a name advocating for universal health care while pointing out gaps in the system. Her ideas, such as ensuring ­relationship-based care and full drug coverage, were the backbone of the bestselling Better Now. Side gigs: She co-founded an incubator for testing cutting-edge ideas at Women’s College Hospital.


FARAH MOHAMED

CEO, Malala Fund

42 Mohamed’s mission is to empower women across the globe. The former Liberal staffer and founder of G(irls)20, an initiative that promotes women in the workforce, is now the head of the Malala Fund. Yousafzai gave Mohamed a personal shout-out during her April visit to Parliament Hill, prompting a standing ovation. Up next: Recruiting activists to the Fund’s Gulmakai Network, which finances grassroots projects, media campaigns and online learning tools for women’s causes.


JOSH BASSECHES

CEO, Royal Ontario Museum

43 In 2017, the ROM had a record 1.35 million visitors and its membership hit 110,000, higher than it has been in seven years. That’s thanks to a strong lineup that included an interactive display on the Franklin Exploration and a haunting Holocaust exhibit. Basseches also created a new position, curator of Indigenous art and culture, and showcased Anishinabe art in a bold exhibition that sparked conversations about reconciliation during Canada 150. Up next: Increasing the total number of exhibitions in 2018, including Here We Are Here: Black Contemporary Art, in January.


MOHAMAD FAKIH

Owner, Paramount Fine Foods

44 Ten years after taking over a struggling Middle Eastern bakery, Fakih now presides over a chain that aims to become the halal equivalent of Tim Hortons. Paramount has 49 franchises in Canada, Florida, Lebanon and Pakistan, and has plans for the northeastern United States and the U.K. For all his renown as a businessman—his net worth is north of $50 million—Fakih is best known for hiring 90 Syrian immigrants and raising more than $100,000 in the aftermath of the Quebec City mosque shooting. Side gigs: He’s an avid gearhead, a silver Lamborghini the prize of his collection.


KRISTIN COCHRANE

President and publisher, Penguin Random House Canada

45 If you read a bestselling Canadian book this year, Kristin Cochrane probably read it first. As head of the country’s largest publishing house, she holds the power to crown the next literary star. And that’s precisely how she spent 2017, putting out more than 87 bestsellers, with at least 17 titles hitting number one, and nabbing five of 12 spots on the Giller Prize long list. Up next: Building Penguin Random House’s audio publishing program, with books by Miriam Toews, Jen Agg and Wab Kinew.


DANI REISS

CEO, Canada Goose

46 When is a jacket maker more than a jacket maker? It helps when the company is adored by celebs (Tom Hardy, Emma Stone), athletes (John Wall, José Bautista) and hard-core adventurers (Laurie Skreslet, Ray Zahab), plus untold toasty customers around the world. Canada Goose, which went public in March, had a whopper of a year, posting $403 million in revenue and a $2.8-billion market cap. That success has turned the brand into a kind of metonym for Canada and Reiss into an accidental ambassador. In September, he delivered a rousing speech about Canada’s global role before bringing Barack Obama onstage in front of 3,000. Friends in high places: Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen, Wayne Gretzky and Chris Hadfield.


DANIEL DALE

Journalist, Toronto Star

47 Trump doesn’t block just anyone on Twitter. Dale, who knows a thing or two about half-cocked populist leaders, has joined the inner circle of Washington journalists who’ve become stars in the age of Trump. In an era of fake news, Dale scrutinizes POTUS’s own wobbly relationship with the truth via his popular fact-check. To date, the big yam has uttered 777 lies since inauguration—and very much counting. Friends in high places: The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman cites him as essential reading.


IRENE SANKOFF AND DAVID HEIN

Playwrights

48 The stories Hein and Sankoff heard about the small town of Gander, Newfoundland, after 9/11 inspired Come From Away, which packed Toronto theatres in 2016. This year, the musical made its Broadway debut to instant fanfare. Justin Trudeau and Ivanka Trump attended opening week in New York, and it scooped the Tony for best direction of a musical. Friends in high places: Josh Groban, Cindy ­Crawford and Hugh Jackman are all big fans.


STEVEN SALM AND MICHAEL KIMEL

Co-founders, Chase Hospitality Group

49 Salm and Kimel know how the expense-account firmament likes to eat, with a portfolio that includes the Chase, Kasa Moto and Colette Grand Café. In Planta, their bold bet that chef David Lee’s hyper-vegan menu could win the hearts and stomachs of the surf-and-turf set paid off: the meatless burger has become one of Bay Street’s most talked-about dishes. Side gig: Kimel bought a minority stake in the Stanley Cup champ Pittsburgh Penguins.


RANA SARKAR

Consul General, San Francisco

50 As the Liberals’ appointee for Consul General in San Francisco, Sarkar is now the field general for Canada’s mission to pilfer high-tech talent. Silicon Valley is a magnet that has long drawn the best people in tech, but Donald Trump has reversed its polarity. Who better than Sarkar—the Calcutta-born, Toronto-raised entrepreneur and suave jet-setter, and his wife, Reva Seth, founder of the Optimal Living Lab? Side gigs: Sarkar pulls double diplomatic duty on Team Trudeau’s NAFTA Council.