Famous Jamaicans In Toronto
by Mahogany Saunders
Donovan Bailey at a track meet.
(Photograph used with permission.)
Jamaicans in TV, Film and Theatre
Miss Lou, a national icon, lives in the GTA. So does Calvin Butler, producer of
Jamaica's Oliver at Large TV series and Honor Forde-Smith, the Jamaican actress
and acting teacher who founded Jamaica's Sistren theatrical collective. Leonie
Forbes has appeared on stage in Toronto and as one of the stars of the TV
series, Lord of Mercy that is produced in Toronto. Jamaican-born TV actor Peter
Williams (Stargate, Neon Rider, Da Vinci's Inquest) got his start here, as well
as Delroy Lindo (Going to Extremes, MalcolmX) and Tonya Lee Williams (The Young
and the Restless) who were both born in England to Jamaican parents.
Jamaicans in Music
Johnnie Osbourne (who was then known as Bumpy) used to live and perform in
Toronto. Heptones singer Leroy Sibbles has made Toronto his home. The late
Jackie Mitoo also made his home here. So did Ernie Smith of Duppy Gunman fame.
Davis launched her reggae career in Toronto.
Jamaicans in Politics
Jamaicans in the GTA have also made their mark in the political arena. Marcus
Garvey spent some time in Toronto and set up a branch of the UNIA, which is
still active. Lincoln Alexander, whose mother was a Jamaican immigrant, was the
first elected official in the Canadian parliament. He represented Hamilton West.
Between 1985 and 1991, he was the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The late
Rosemary Brown was active in politics here and the head of the Ontario Human
Rights Commission. Alvin Curling has been a member of the provincial parliament
Of course, who could forget Ben Johnson and Donovan Bailey, who have made their
mark on a global scale at the Olympics. Laurie Silvera has owned and trained
horses for 29 years at Toronto's Woodbine racetrack. Prior to coming to Canada,
Laurie was a leading horse trainer in Jamaica for many years at Caymanas Park.
Arthur Silvera is following in his father's footsteps and he is also training
horses at Woodbine.