Canada's Walk of Fame

Canada's Walk of Fame (French: Allée des célébrités canadiennes), located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is a walk of fame that acknowledges the achievements and accomplishments of successful Canadians. It consists of a series of maple leaf-like stars imbedded in 13 designated blocks' worth of sidewalks in Toronto, located in front of Roy Thomson Hall, The Princess of Wales Theatre, and The Royal Alexandra Theatre on King Street as well as Simcoe Street.

The first group of members was inducted in 1998, and it has since expanded to include a young filmmakers competition and there are plans for a permanent museum. There are 131 Canadians on the walk of fame, including athletes; coaches; actors, directors, writers and producers of movies, television and stage; singers, songwriters and musicians; playwrights; authors; comedians; cartoonists and models.

History

The Walk of Fame was first conceived in 1996 when founder and current president Peter Soumalias suggested the idea of a Walk of Fame for famous Torontonians to the board of the Toronto Entertainment District Association. They rejected his idea but he went on to establish a Walk of Fame for Canadians in partnership with Bill Ballard, Dusty Cohl and Gary Slaight. In spite of a lack of funds, research and no media plan, they managed to succeed and the first class of inductees was inducted in 1998. The Walk of Fame has since become a popular tourist attraction in Toronto and has been named the number one Canadian recognition event.

In 2005, the board of directors held a contest to design a new location for the Walk of Fame. The winner was announced in September 2006 and that it would move to Pecaut Square, next to Roy Thomson Hall. However, in 2008, negotiations with the city of Toronto fell apart and the Walk of Fame would not be moving, although organizers will continue to look at three locations on private land in downtown Toronto.

The Walk of Fame has since partnered with several different organizations, such as the Mary Pickford Institute to produce a young filmmakers competition. There is also a music competition that was launched in 2007, and a book is planned, which at the moment is titled "108 Great Canadians". There are also plans to manage a festival of Canadian films and plans for a permanent "Museum of Canadian Achievement".

Walk of Fame
Induction process

Canada's Walk of Fame runs an annual contest in which Canadians can nominate potential inductees. In 2000, prior to the introduction of the online voting system, over 30,000 nominations were received via letters, fax and e-mail. Now submissions are accepted on the official Walk of Fame website and thousands of nominations are received every year, which are then collected into various files and are then sent to selection committee.

The committee then analyzes the nominees based on the following criteria: the nominee was born in Canada or has spent their formative or creative years in Canada; they have had a minimum of 10 years experience in their field; they have had a national or international impact on Canada’s Cultural heritage. Following the Selection Committee's evaluation, the nominees that meet all of the requirements are forwarded to the board of directors, who then select the inductees.

The process differs greatly from that of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood version allows only celebrities of the silver screen, television, radio, live theatre and singers/musicians, while Canada's Walk allows people of more diverse occupations, as listed above. While most celebrities on the Hollywood Walk of Fame are American or have achieved their fame in the United States, Canada's Walk of Fame is exclusive to Canadians. For someone to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, they must be nominated by a sponsor who must agree to field the approximately $25,000 cost of installing a star. From there, the names are submitted to a nominating committee of five people, who pick 10-15 names to award stars to annually. The only criteria for it are: "professional achievement, longevity of five years or more, contributions to the community and the guarantee that the celebrity will attend the dedication ceremony if selected."

Canadian stars are inducted in an annual group ceremony; while the Hollywood Walk of Fame rarely inducts more than two major stars at a time. Celebrities can have more than one star on the Hollywood Walk, the same celebrity can receive as many as five stars under the various categories. This does not happen with Canada's Walk of Fame, although some may have an individual star but are also included as part of a larger group, such as John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara who have their own star but also were in Second City Television.

Induction ceremony

New inductees are inducted annually at an unveiling ceremony where their star, a stylized maple leaf, is revealed. The first was held in 1998 and only four of the twelve living inductees attended: Karen Kain, Norman Jewison, Barbara Ann Scott and Rich Little. The 2007 ceremony was held at Toronto's Hummingbird Centre, was attended by all eight inductees and was hosted by Eugene Levy. Past hosts include Trish Stratus,Tom Green,Jann Arden,Kurt Browning and Catriona LeMay Doan. The ceremony was broadcast by CTV until 2008. Beginning in 2009 the ceremony was broadcast by Global. The first ceremony on the network was hosted by Anne Murray while Howie Mandel hosted in 2010.

Awards
Canadian Legends Award

Established in 2008, the Canadian Legends Award is posthumously awarded to "Canadian pioneers in film, music, sport, arts, and innovation." Sponsored by Cineplex Entertainment and Universal Studios Canada, the first recipients of the award were siblings Norma and Douglas Shearer. The award recipients are also given stars on the Walk of Fame.

Allan Slaight Award

First awarded in 2010, the Allan Slaight Award, named after the leading figure in the Canadian radio industry, is awarded to a young Canadian for "making a positive impact in the fields of music, film, literature, visual or performing arts, sports, innovation or philanthropy." Recipients receive an honorarium of $10,000 from the Slaight Foundation, but are not considered inductees of the Walk of Fame. So far, recipients of the Slaight award have been Nikki Yanofsky and Drake

Criticism

In 1998, Laurie Brown of the CBC criticized the Walk of Fame, calling it "just an attraction to lure tourists to theatres in the area." She claimed that it would only honour Canadians with international impact, saying "if it was truly for Canadians, then I think there would be more of a national bend to the whole thing. But I doubt I'm going to see a star on the Walk of Fame that is only a known-name here in Canada." There has been criticism over the lack of Canadian roots of some of the inductees, such as Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and Mack Sennett.

In September 2010, William Shatner commented on Twitter regarding damage to his star on the Walk of Fame: "I hear my star on the Canadian Walk of Fame is a bit frazzled ... but, then again, so am I. I wonder if anybody hovering around that area can tell me what’s wrong with it and what needs fixing." The family of Gordie Howe also commented on the damage to his star. The Canadian Press reported that "A number of celebrities' stars are looking a bit rough around the edges." The president of the Walk of Fame stated that damage was due to the freezing and thawing during Canadian winters and also sidewalk snowplows. It was announced that the city of Toronto would replace Shatner and Howe's damaged tiles, and the Walk of Fame was looking into an alternative to installing the plaques on a sidewalk where they are at the mercy of the elements.

Media

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