There’s no shortage of reasons to love everyone’s favourite astronaut, Chris Hadfield. Not only was he the first Canadian to command the International Space Station, Hadfield was also the first Canadian to walk in space. During his five months in orbit, he recorded roughly 100 videos, an entire album worth of original music, gained a million followers on Twitter, and somehow still found the time to oversee more than 100 experiments. All of this, and he’s got a fantastic moustache, too.
Here are 5 reasons why Canadians can’t get enough of Chris Hadfield.
1. Hadfield knows the value of getting away from it all.
Raised on a corn farm in southern Ontario, Hadfield is no stranger to the great outdoors. In fact, it was during a summer at his family’s cottage on Stag Island near Sarnia that nine-year-old Hadfield first saw man walk on the moon.
“We didn’t have a television so we went over to our neighbour’s place,” he told the Globe and Mail.“And I resolved that night, July 20, 1969, to be an astronaut when I grew up—you know, me and 10 million other people.”
2. Hadfield knows what it means to be Canadian—and that means loving hockey.
Before moving south of the border to work as a test pilot, Hadfield lived across Canada as a fighter pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His career took him from BC to postings in Alberta and Saskatchewan. But throughout, he remained loyal to his team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Even in space, hockey wasn’t far from his mind. When the NHL lockout ended in 2013, he dedicated an entire photo album on his Facebook fanpage to Hockey Night in Canada. “As the NHL season begins, I see the lights of Toronto, home of my favourite team—Go Maple Leafs!” he captioned a photo of the city, as seen from space. And when he re-entered the atmosphere last year, he wore a Leafs jersey proudly under his spacesuit.
3. Because of Hadfield, Timmies has established its place in space.
What did Hadfield miss most while he was hovering above earth? Apart from going to watch live hockey games, he says that he missed the simple things most—like maple-dipped doughnuts and black coffee from Tim Hortons.
But he did have access to the national treat occasionally while he was in space. “I also got bonus containers of Canadian treats like smoked salmon, buffalo jerky, a tube of maple syrup—even Tim Horton’s coffee, the preferred caffeinated beverage on board,” Hadfield wrote in his book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.
4. He’s more than just a Space Oddity.
Hadfield might be best known for his rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity—which has received more than 20 million views on YouTube—but it’s Canadian artists who have largely influenced his music.
While still in space, Hadfield exchanged tweets with William Shatner (granted, Shatner’s not exactly best known for his musical stylings), and recorded a song with the Barenaked Ladies. But it’s Gordon Lightfoot that Hadfield holds in high esteem. “His genius and style had a huge influence on how I think of music,” Hadfield has said of the Canadian folk-rock icon.
5. Home is where Hadfield’s heart is.
When Hadfield announced his retirement in June 2013, he also announced that after nearly three decades of living in Russia, the United States, and of course, space, that he would be returning home.
“[I’ll be] making good on a promise I made my wife nearly 30 years ago—that yes, eventually, we would be moving back to Canada,” he told reporters.
In January 2014, he made good on this promise, moving to Toronto for the first time. “We awoke today in our own house back in Canada. Snowy, sweet, beloved home,” he posted to Facebook.