The Order of Canada recognized the achievements of 44 accomplished Canadians on Friday, bestowing one of the country’s highest honours onto hockey coach Pat Quinn, broadcaster Craig Oliver and numerous doctors, artists and community workers.

Created for Canada’s 1967 centennial celebrations, the Order honours a lifetime of devotion to one’s community and country. There have been more than 5,000 recipients since it was created.

Other prominent inductees this time around included political commentator Chantal Hebert and tennis player Daniel Nestor. The group met with Governor General David Johnston at Rideau Hall on Friday morning to receive their awards.

Just hours before the ceremony, Oliver said he still found it hard to believe he was among such a prestigious lot. In fact, he said, he had considered the possibility he had once again been mistakenly invited to a fancy event.

“When the Governor General’s office called me last summer, my first thought was, ‘this happened again,’ like my famous dinner with Nancy Reagan in Washington,” he told CTV’s Canada AM on Friday, referring to an early-1980s dinner at the White House. “They had invited the wrong Craig Oliver.”

The other Craig Oliver was an American broadcaster – an unlikely candidate for the Order of Canada.

Coming from a humble background in Northern British Columbia, Oliver did not finish high school, dropping out to start work at a radio station. Since evolving into one of the country’s most prominent political reporters, he has also become a strong advocate and supporter of charities that work with visually impaired people. He says he’s honoured to be part of such a successful group, and that he believes Canadian news broadcasters serve an important civic role.

“Canadians know their country through us,” he said. “I’m proud to be part of that whole crew across the country… And now I’ll be able to catch up with my friend Lloyd Robertson. I want to match him pin for pin.”

Leading up to Friday’s ceremony, hockey stalwart Pat Quinn was sheepish about his accomplishments, which include coaching five National Hockey League teams and leading Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2002 for the first time in 50 years.

He said people fortunate enough to be living their dreams have a duty to give back to the community, and that’s something that, as a coach and owner, he has tried to instill in his players.

“When they have the gifts, obviously they should be giving back,” he said, adding he wished his parents could see him receive his medal. “It is absolutely a thrill. If my mother and father were still here today they’d be awful proud.”