Who is the first Canadian-born Survivor player in the show’s history?

Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor: Island of the Idols marks the first season where non-US citizens were part of the audition pool, with Tom Laidlaw being the first Canadian cast.

About a month into the Survivor casting process for Island of the Idols and season 40 last year, ET Canada brought in Jeff Probst to reveal that Canadians will become part of the casting process for the coming cycle. That meant that season 39 would finally bring more than just US-born players to the island to compete, and those watching the show on Global TV could appear there in the future.

Though we had hoped there would be a few Canadians to arrive in the cast of Survivor: Island of the Idols, which was revealed earlier today, we have a definitive first Canadian-born player ever to play the game. His name is Tom Laidlaw; a 60-year-old former NHL enforcer who is infamous for getting into some big fights, including with the likes of Marty McSorley.

Much like a hockey player talking about giving it 110% and how they both wanted the win (but the other team just wanted it a bit more), there are very short, direct answers in his CBS bio. However, the most important part is that at the very top of the list, the hometown listed at the top is Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Just under 600,000 people live in the Greater Toronto Area city; the 9th-largest city in Canada.

Tom Laidlaw was no slouch in the NHL; he played in the league for 11 years, including seven with the New York Rangers and four with the Los Angeles Kings. He was on a team with Wayne Gretzky, who remains way and above the best player in NHL history, although Tom was more interested in playing a physical game while playing defense.

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Though Tom Laidlaw will be the first Survivor player born in Canada, he will not be the show’s first Canadian-born citizen. Those honors go to Todd Herzog; winner of Survivor: China. His mother was born in Scarborough, ON, and he had dual citizenship. However, upon winning the million-dollar prize, he had to renounce his citizenship according to a since-removed Justin.tv interviewUpdate: Kel Gleason from Australian Outback was raised in Frederickton, NB but was born in the US.