My Heroes List

Hero defined: a man of distinguished courage or ability or a man who has acquired wisdom and virtue.

I have kept a list of heroes for many years. I suspect that the list reveals a good deal about my views on several subjects. The list is as follows:

1. Cecil A. Wright (1904-1967)

Wright was known to all as Caesar. Wright earned a Ph.D. in law from Harvard in the 1920s. He later taught and became Dean at Osgoode Hall Law School when it was located in downtown Toronto. In 1949 Osgoode was the only law school in Ontario. In 1949 Wright along with Bora Laskin, John Willis, Jacob Finkleman and others, resigned in protest over the views of the benchers of Osgoode on legal education. At the invitation of Sydney Smith, President of the University of Toronto, Wright and the others moved to the U. of T. Law School. Wright led the fight for the approval of other law schools in Ontario.

I was a student at U.of T. when Wright taught torts and wills and trusts.

2. Wayne Gretzky (b. 1961)

The Great One had a mental focus that set him apart in Canada’s game.

3. Mortimer Adler (1902-2001)

Adler was an author, teacher and philosopher. He wrote “Six Great Ideas” in 1981 (truth, goodness, beauty, liberty, equality, justice), a book that I read and reread many times.

4. Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)

Marshall was a lawyer and later a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. I met him in 1955 shortly after he successfully argued for the complainants in Brown v. Board of Education, a Supreme Court case that ordered desegregation in the U.S. schools. At U.of T. Marshall, in a speech to students, described some of his experiences in trying cases in the U.S. South.

5. W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

Deming was a statistician and business consultant. After WW2 Deming is credited with showing the Japanese how to produce quality products. He also offered advice on how to treat employees, customers and suppliers.

6. Sam Walton (1918-1992)

Walton founded Walmart and with low prices raised the standard of living of millions of persons.

7. Warren Buffett (b. 1930)

Buffett founded Berkshire Hathaway, a successful conglomerate, and became a billionaire. He is famous for his sage investment advice and for donating billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

8. Roger Bannister (b. 1929)

Bannister is a retired neurologist and a former athlete. On May 6, 1954, at Oxford in England, Bannister ran the mile in less than four minutes for the first time. Bannister’s four year old grandson told a playmate that “my grampy ran a mile in four seconds”.

9. Howard K. Smith (1914-2002)

Smith was a journalist for CBS in Europe during WW2 and later became a TV anchorman for ABC. In his autobiography he stated that Western nations are still learning how to “combine the caring of socialism with the energy of capitalism”.

10. Steve Jarislowsky (b. 1925)

Jarislowsky is a Canadian investment fund manager who has advocated better corporate governance. As the co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, he has been a champion for good governance and management in Canada.

11. Jean Beliveau (b. 1931)

Beliveau was a star player in every hockey league in which he played. He was captain of the Montreal Canadiens, played on 10 Stanley Cup teams during a 20 year career. In a TV interview, circa 2005, Beliveau was asked, of all his accomplishments what is he most proud of, he replied “being a team player”.

12. Frank J. McKenna (b. 1948)

Mckenna was a lawyer and politician. He was premier of New Brunswick from 1987 to 1997. In the 1987 election his party won every seat in the New Brunswick Legislature. He served as Canadian Ambassador to the United States in 2005 and 2006.

13. Mr. Fezziwig in “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens

As a young man Scrooge was an employee of Mr. Fezziwig. Scrooge at the time admired Fezziwig for his treatment of his employees. Fezziwig refused to sell his business to “the vested interests”which would have put his employees’ jobs at risk.

14. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

Franklin was a publisher, inventor, author, politician, diplomat and one of the founders of the U.S.A. In religious matters he was “an apostle of tolerance”.

15. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

Douglass was born a slave in the state of Maryland. He never attended school. The wife of a slave owner taught him the alphabet after which he bribed his young playmates to teach him how to spell specific words. After he escaped slavery by running away to the north, he became an author and public speaker for the Abolitionist movement. Later still he become a publisher and met with Abe Lincoln during the Civil War.

16. Adam Smith (1723-1790)

Smith was from the Edinburgh area of Scotland and attended Oxford and later he was a professor at the University of Glasgow. He read widely in many languages and was part of the Scottish Enlightenment. He wrote a famous book about the economics of the Industrial Revolution. The book was the “Wealth of Nations” published in several editions starting in 1776. He advocated free enterprise and free trade and condemned government restraints that gave monopoly powers to employers. He also condemned special treatment by governments of the guilds.

17. Lee Kuan Yew (b. 1923)

Lee attended Cambridge University in England where he excelled in the study of law. He was the first prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. Lee is credited with advising Deng Xiaoping of China to establish free enterprise in China when Deng observed the prosperity of Singapore.

18. Abe Lincoln (1809-1865)

I recently added Abe Lincoln to my Heroes List after reading the 2009 book “A. Lincoln” by Ronald C. White, Jr.


  1. Kathleen Hogan

    I see you’re taking your definition literally. You believe your list reveals something about you. Eighteen heroes and not one woman among them – what does that say about you?

  2. We shouldn’t forget that Hero was a woman.

  3. Philip J. Ashdown

    The list says you are a fan of Francis Fukuyama.

  4. I hope Eric offers a similar list of heroines soon.

  5. Wow, not one woman. Sad.