Yet, while they are revered in their new countries, they are very often largely unknown or forgotten in their homeland.
The name of John Macdonald doesn't quite capture the imagination in the same way as those of pioneering Scots such as David Livingstone or Andrew Carnegie.
But, as this plaque on the side of Ramshorn Kirk in Ingram Street explains, Macdonald was not only Canada's first Prime Minister but one of the men who helped establish Canada as a nation.
He served as Prime Minister for 19 years from 1867, with a five-year gap in between. Among his achievements was the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Macdonald was born in Glasgow in 1815 and is described in biographies not only as a great statesmen but also a "notoriously heavy drinker". Go figure.
Ramshorn Kirk was close to where the Macdonald family lived in Glasgow's Merchant City and he used to go there to Sunday School.
His birthplace may well have been the old Fox and Hound bar in the city's Brunswick Street, part of the old Selfridges site currently being redeveloped.
According to some recent reports, Macdonald's father owned a business in the building which later became the pub.
There has been talk of creating a "Macdonald Plaza" to commemorate him.
He left Glasgow at the age of five with his family to settle in the town of Kingston, Ontario, and went on to become a successful lawyer.
Across the border in the US, Americans named their capital city - as well as one of the 50 states - after their first President George Washington.
Macdonald, by contrast, is remembered in the name of a village in Manitoba and a mountain in the Rockies.
Perhaps his liking for a tipple didn't go down too well in Canada.