Rick Mercer, Gordon Pinsent and former Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall all took home trophies at the Canadian Film Awards on Thursday night in Toronto, but the biggest winner may have been Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald.  

The CBC film John A: Birth of a Country won top direction and writing honours, and its leading actors Shawn Doyle and Peter Outerbridge both won prizes in their categories.

The second night of the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards — a combination of what were the Genie and Gemini Awards — featured awards in 46 categories focused on drama, comedy and children's programming. 

Rick Mercer, host of CBC-TV's Rick Mercer Report captured several awards, including the Best Performance in a Variety or Sketch Comedy Program or Series trophy.

Fellow Newfoundlander Pinsent also took home a trophy for his guest role on CBC-TV's Republic of Doyle.

In children's programming, CBC's Artzooka! won for best non-fiction show, and its host Jeremie Saunders also won an award. 

Cattrall, a Canadian-raised actress is best known for her star role as lusty singleton Samantha in the HBO series Sex and the City and its spinoff movies, was given a special achievement award.

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Actress Kim Cattrall received a special prize at the Canadian Screen Awards. (Jason Merritt/Getty)

Helga Stephenson, head of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, says Cattrall "is a fabulously successful Canadian performer who proudly embraces both sides of the border."

Cattrall also appeared in the PBS mini-series Any Human Heart, Roman Polanski's The Ghost Writer and the 1987 comedy Mannequin.

CTV's Flashpoint and MuchMusic's Degrassi were also big winners at the event, and HBO's Call Me Fitz also captured several awards.

Lorraine Segato kicked off the evening's festivities with a performance of the Parachute Club's hit song Rise Up.

The awards continue Sunday, when comedian Martin Short will host the third gala to honour the best in Canadian film. CBC television is set to broadcast the show at 8 p.m. ET.

CSA winners – Industry gala #2

  • Best Children's or Youth Fiction Program: Degrassi
  • Best Children's or Youth Non-Fiction Program: Artzooka!
  • Best Dramatic Mini-Series or TV Movie: Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story
  • Best Music, Variety, Sketch Comedy or Talk Program: Rick Mercer Report
  • Best Pre-School Program or Series: Stella & Sam
  • Best Achievement in Make-Up: Emilie Gauthier, Erik Gosselin — Being Human
  • Best Costume Design: Joanne Hansen — Bomb Girls 
  • Best Direction in a Children's or Youth Program: Phil Earnshaw — Degrassi
  • Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series: Sheri Elwood — Call Me Fitz
  • Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series: Jerry Ciccoritti — John A: Birth of a Country
  • Best Direction in a Dramatic Series: Jim Donovan — Flashpoint
  • Best Direction in a Performing Arts Program: Douglas Arrowsmith — Love Shines
  • Best Direction in a Variety Program: John Keffer — 2012 MuchMusic Video Awards
  • Best Original Music Score for a Program: Jonathan Goldsmith — Titanic
  • Best Original Music Score for a Series: Amin Bhatia, Ari Posner — Flashpoint
  • Best Photography in a Comedy Program or Series: Ian Bibby — Call Me Fitz
  • Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series: Paul Sarossy — The Borgias
  • Best Photography in a Variety or Performing Arts or Sketch Comedy Program: Dylan Macleod, Pierre Marleau — Love Lies Bleeding
  • Best Picture Editing in a Comedy, Variety or Performing Arts Program: Craig Webster — Less Than Kind
  • Best Picture Editing in a Dramatic Program: Brett C. Sullivan — Flashpoint
  • Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Fiction Program: Aidan Leroux — Bomb Girls
  • Best Sound in a Comedy, Variety or Performing Arts Program: Mark Gingras, Elma Bello, Katie Halliday, Stan Mak, Rudy Michael, Brad Thornton, Marilee Yorston — Todd and the Book of Pure Evil
  • Best Sound in a Dramatic Program or Series: Jane Tattersall, Yuri Gorbachow, Jack Heeren, Andrew Jablonski, Goro Koyama, Martin Lee, Kirk Lynds, Andy Malcolm, David McCallum, Dale Sheldrake, Don White — The Borgias
  • Best Visual Effects: Adam Stern — Continuum
  • Best Writing in a Children's or Youth Program: Frank van Keeken — Wingin' It
  • Best Writing in a Comedy Program: Mark McKinney — Less Than Kind
  • Best Writing in a Dramatic Program: Bruce M. Smith — John A: Birth of a Country
  • Best Writing in a Dramatic Series: Aubrey Nealon — Flashpoint
  • Best Writing in a Variety or Sketch Comedy Program: Rick Mercer, Rick Currie, Greg Eckler, Chris Finn, Tim Steeves, George Westerholm — Rick Mercer Report
  • Best Achievement in Casting: Sara Kay, Jim Heber, Jenny Lewis — Todd and the Book of Pure Evil
  • Best Host in a Pre-School, Children's or Youth Program or Series: Jeremie Saunders — Artzooka!
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program: Peter Outerbridge — John A: Birth of a Country
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program: Wendy Crewson — Saving Hope
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Comedic Series: Stuart Margolin — Call Me Fitz
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Comedic Series: Joanna Cassidy — Call Me Fitz
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program: Shawn Doyle - John A: Birth of a Country
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program: Emily Osment — Cyberbully
  • Best Performance in a Children's or Youth Program: Melinda Shankar — How to be Indie 2
  • Best Performance in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series: Gordon Pinsent — Republic of Doyle
  • Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program: Christopher Plummer — The Tempest
  • Best Performance in a Variety or Sketch Comedy Program: Rick Mercer — Rick Mercer Report
  • Best Performance in an Animated Program: Seán Cullen — Almost Naked Animals
With files from The Canadian Press