Canadian Mentors Who Made a Difference

When Canadian physician David Sackett (1936-2016) was in his last year of medical school and asked to provide treatment for various maladies of people entrusted to his care, he began to wonder about the evidence for the validity of such standard treatments that were long rooted in tradition and expert opinion. His questioning and curiosity led him to earn the title of “Father of Evidence- Based Medicine,.” He was the first person to conduct clinical trials examining the value of aspirin in preventing heart attacks and strokes; an approach started a movement that continues to gain momentum today in a broad spectrum from pediatrics to geriatrics. His approach has now become standard practice not only in medicine but has emerged as a trend in coaching and mentoring.

Dr. Sackett was a strong advocate for mentoring as one of the determinants of academic success as a clinician and scientist. He based his conclusions on his observations of the more than 300 young academics he mentored in the USA, Canada, and the U.K. One of the many he mentored said, “He showed us the importance of mentorship across disciplines. When I was in medical school, and he was at the pinnacle of his fame, he took on a group of us for an elective. I often think about this when I am trying to find time to give young physicians.”

Canadian Marnie Rice (1949-2016) was a mental health professional who began her career engaging in behaviour modification of inmates in one of Canada’s most notorious mental institutions that was known for its concrete cells and steel bars. It housed most dangerous psychopaths, serial murderers and pedophiles in Canada. Eventually she became the Director of Research and was determined to find ways to assess the risk of violence in her patients and devise practical treatments. It was a daunting task for her to remain positive given the violence demonstrated by her charges. At one point she was attacked by a psychotic patient during a group session. She said, “He grabbed me around the neck and tried to strangle me, but he was pretty weak. Everybody jumped up to help. It was nothing serious.”

Dr. Rice used her experience to develop a tool to solve this problem of attacks on staff. She learned that assaults on staff were often prompted by staff members’ attitudes toward their patients. She developed a guide to train staff members that was used by many other institutions. She eventually developed another tool to assess the risk of releasing psychopaths back into the community. Everyone who worked with her knew of her passion for mentoring new scientists. “She kept her door open and was happy to answer questions and give encouragement. Her nurturing prompted us to have high standards for scientific research and ethics,” said one of those she mentored.

Canadian Purdy Crawford (1932-2014) was a lawyer and executive who didn’t think of himself as a mentor. Mr. Crawford, a Canadian legal expert and business executive, left a legacy of many people he mentored. One of those he mentored became the first woman to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. At a time when women were struggling to gain access to the old boy’s club of legal firms in Toronto, Purdy Crawford hired her to work with him, and acted as an advocate or sponsor for her early career advancement. Gordon Pitts, who wrote a book about Mr. Crawford said that Crawford’s “greatest contribution to Canada was serving as a personal mentor for generations of young people who now form a who’s who of Canada’s most influential leaders,” including Canada’s Governor General David Johnston, and the CEO’s of some of Canada’s major corporations. Mr. Crawford’s obituary in the August 16 issue of the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that “Deborah Alexander, executive vice-president and general counsel at Bank of Nova Scotia said Mr. Crawford was her most important mentor as a young lawyer, and that much of her personal success is attributable to him.”

These selections of great Canadian mentors have been excerpted from the Peer Resources’ Mentor Hall of Fame searchable database: (

A Selection of Well-Known Canadians in the Mentor Hall of Fame

During this extended sheltering-in-place time, I’ve turned my attention to working on a new project about mentoring in Canada. The project is now completed. It’s called Canada’s Legacy to the World: Mentoring.

The purpose of this paper is to celebrate mentoring, estimate how Canada ranks compared to the U.S.A. as a place for mentoring; provide details about what is involved in mentoring; describe the foundations of mentoring and how it differs from coaching, supervision, and training; and illustrate the variety of Canadian mentoring relationships from all areas of life.

If you’d like a copy of this 36-page booklet, let me know by sending an email to me.

I hope you find it valuable (even if you’re not a Canadian). I welcome your feedback about the work and I’d appreciate whatever insights or commentary it might spark about mentoring.


Articles Available in Latest Issue

The latest issue of The Peer Bulletin Magazine is now available to all subscribers. This is the March, 2020 edition and the Table of Contents is pictured below.

This month we are making individual articles available to Spirit Mentor subscribers at no cost. Just email us which article in this issue you’d like sent to you via an emailed PDF. Your request will help us learn which articles are of most interest to readers.

Helping Homeless Youth

Every year at this time since Peer Resources incorporated in 1980, we donate all commissions to a local organization that works with homeless youth.

This year we are making our donation to the Victoria CoolAid Society (#VicCoolAid). Please feel free to join us. If you donate $50 or more we will provide you with a free (non-ending) subscription to The Peer Bulletin Magazine or a free copy of my mentoring e-book, Shaping the Future:150+Canadian Mentoring Relationships that Make Canada Great, Creative, Innovative, Productive, Successful and Welcoming. (Email your donation receipt to us to get the free subscription.)

Donations can be made at this link:

Mentoring Quotes Booklet Available as a Gift

Quotes are a valuable way to create value in mentoring. They can serve as a source of inspiration, an acknowledgment of value gained, a tool for clarifying ideas and act as a catalyst for reflection and learning.

Over the years, I have collected a variety of quotes which I originally used in workshops, training, and professional publications. Sometimes quotes lend credibility to ideas since many of the quotes come from well-known persons in history or contemporary society.

Quotes can also be used as a basis for discussion of ideas and meaning. I’ve also used the quotes as the basis for an experiential exercise with participants by asking a question about the quote such as ‘how might this relate to your experience?’ You may find that a quote reminds you of a story or anecdote. Maybe the quote has a special meaning for you. This curated e-book provides an opportunity for users to make notes or add reflections about the quotes to make them more useful in discussing mentoring or conducting training sessions.

To download the entire 22-page booklet:

If you find value in this booklet, please consider making a donation to Wounded Warriors Canada, a peer mentoring service for veterans, first responders and their families. Donations can be made here:

All the best for the Holiday Season.


A Teacher Provided the Spark for John McCain’s Mentoring Legacy

senator-john-mccain-2016-candidate-arizonaThe Peer Resources’ Mentor Hall of Fame has more than 20,000 examples of mentoring relationships. As a way to honor the legacy of Senator John McCain, here’s a story from the Hall of Fame about this American hero’s involvement in mentoring.

Panama Canal-born American John McCain (1936–2018), a member of the US Congress since 1982; a 1958 graduate of the US Naval Academy, a pilot who was captured and imprisoned in 1967 during the American War in Vietnam, and former two-time candidate for President of the United States, identified his high school teacher and former soldier, William Ravenel (1914–1968), as a mentor who changed his life; and Texas Senator John Tower (1925–1991), as a mentor he thought of as a “father to me in many respects” during the time Lt. Commander McCain served in Washington, D.C. as a Naval attache.

“When I was at a boy’s boarding school, Mr. Ravenel gave me some moorings and a compass,” Senator McCain stated on Harvard’s “Who Mentored You?” website. Not only did his teacher make “Shakespeare come alive,” for the Senator, but he was also someone “whom I confided my reservations about my destiny.”

Another student at the school described Mr. Ravenel as “a leader of men,” who “used a sense of humor instead of force.” The fellow student noted that the “effort Ravenel expended on McCain was profound: He tried to make McCain become a better person.” (Source: Alexander, P. (2002). Man of the people: The life of John McCain. New York, Wiley.)

Senator McCain described an example of his mentor’s efforts. A situation occurred where John McCain had to take difficult stance with regards to the actions of another student. When the situation ended, his mentor shook his hand and told him how proud he was of what he had said to his peers.

“I have never forgotten the confidence his praise gave me,” Senator McCain said. That memory served him well during his years as a prisoner of war as he was faced on a daily basis with maintaining honorable behavior. “I think that a mentor can help you through difficult periods, help you see the difference between right and wrong. The world is more complicated for children today than it ever was when I was growing up. A mentor can provide you with the kind of idealism that you can look up to and attempt to emulate. What I believe young people find very useful is someone that they can contact and interact with, and frankly express their doubts and their concerns and their questions. We have found through scientific study that a mentor can dramatically impact a young person’s life. I knew that Mr. Ravenel had a great impact on me. But I don’t think I really understood how deeply he impacted me until I was in prison, because it was his example I looked to when I was tempted to do something which was less than honorable.”(Source: McCain, J. & Salter, M. (1999). Faith of my fathers. New York: Random House.)

After Senator McCain died in August 2018, several politicians came forward to acknowledge his mentoring, including Minnesota Senator Amy Klobucher; South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham; and Maine Senator Angus King.

CNN commentator Dana Bash reported on Senator McCain’s mentoring activities: “He spent a lot of time mentoring younger senators on both sides of the aisle including Delaware Senator Chris Coons; and Florida Senator Marco Rubio; and many others.”

Ms. Bash went on to report that Senator McCain “traveled extensively with them [those he mentored] all over the globe in order to spend time with them; in order for them to understand where he’s coming from; and to show them how it’s done.”

Maine Senator Susan Collins expressed a sentiment echoed by all he mentored: “I’ll miss how much fun he was, and how much I learned from him. He leaves a big hole in my heart.”

For additional stories or details about mentoring relationships from all walks of life, visit the Peer Resources’ Mentor Hall of Fame.