The stars will align for Chris Hadfield on Dec. 1, when Sarnia’s favourite son and the first Canadian to ever walk in space will be inducted at Canada’s Walk of Fame.
“This honour is like getting a lovely, delicious break of a dessert as a surprise in the middle of the day,” he told The Journal.
“The root of the word celebrity is celebrate,” he added. “You are being recognized for doing the things you thought were important — that others judged to be worthy.”
Eight other outstanding Canadians will be the inducted at the awards ceremony in Toronto: Leonard Cohen (posthumously), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Jimmy Pattison, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Andrea Martin and Andy Kim.
Hadfield, who was born in Sarnia and attended King George VI elementary school, is one of the nation’s most recognizable people, with countless followers on social media including nearly 2.5 million on Twitter alone.
Col. Hadfield spent 35 years with the Canadian Armed Forces and became one of its top test pilots. He earned a Master’s in aviation at the University of Tennessee’s Space Institute and was accepted into the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut program in 1992.
In total, Hadfield spent 26 years outside Canada but returned when he retired, fulfilling a promise he made to Helene, the future wife he met at high school in Oakville.
During three space missions he helped build the Russian space station Mir, was part of the Space Shuttle Endeavour program, helped install the Canadarm2 and was the first Canadian to ever float freely in space.
In 2012, he became the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station, where he was responsible for a crew of five.
On that third mission, when he circled the earth 2,300 times over five months, Hadfield conducted more than 200 scientific experiments and mesmerized his fellow earthlings by sharing the experience.
Perhaps most famously, he sang and played on guitar a rendition of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ — a cover the iconic rock star called the “most poignant” version of the song ever made. It’s been viewed 40 million times on YouTube.
These days, Hadfield remains busy in his so-called retirement. He’s a professor at the University of Waterloo, leads the Chris Hadfield Generator series at Roy Thompson Hall, and is a New York Times best-selling author.
He speaks around the world and has had numerous buildings and sites named in his honour, including Sarnia’s Chris Hadfield Airport.
He divides his time between Toronto and Sarnia-Lambton — enjoying life at the family cottage on Stag Island, a place he calls his “favourite” on earth.
Promoting literacy remains a major passion for Hadfield, who has written three books, including the children’s story ‘The Darkest Dark.’
When a child’s reading lags by Grade 3 “they may never catch up, he said. “A couple of dozen books in the house make a huge difference.”
Hadfield said he‘s looking forward to the Walk of Fame ceremony and hopes to have his entire family there, including his parents, three children and one grandchild.
“Once you gets past all the hoopla you recognize the humanity of everybody,” he said, describing the inductees as “just a bunch of people.
“None of this was handed to anybody. It’s part of dreaming and doing what gives you joy,” he said.
“Everyone has done something brave. They just haven’t told you about it.”
CTV is recording the awards ceremony, which will be broadcast at a later date in December.