She is a land as vast (she is the second largest country in the world) as her people are multicultural (in this melting pot of races, over 500,000 Filipinos call Canada home.)
Her winters are bitter cold, but her people are warm. And funny. And always saying sorry. Apologies in Canada are as predictable and frequent as trips to the toilet in a bar full of burly beer-drinkers. A Queen’s University poll titled “Sorry … I’m Canadian,” found that 90% of Canadians aged 18-25 will immediately apologize if a stranger bumps into them. Good luck getting this kind of treatment in most parts of the (generally rude) world.
With her amazing natural attractions (parks, lakes, mountains, falls are in no short supply), clean air (Canada placed third in the World Health Organization’s list of countries with the cleanest air on the planet) and superior quality of life (always ranked among the top ten countries in the OECD Better Life Index), it’s no wonder she is considered the sixth happiest country in the world.
Here are some fun, interesting, random facts you may or may not have known about the Great White North:
1. Canada is land-massive, with a total of 984 670 sq km and six – yes, you read right, 6! – time zones.
2. A bear cub named Winnipeg was exported from Canada to the London Zoo in 1915. A little boy named Christopher Robin Milne loved to visit Winnipeg (or Winnie for short) and his love for the bear cub inspired the stories written by his father, A.A. Milne, about Winnie-the-Pooh.inspired the stories written by his father, A.A. Milne
3. As recorded in the journal of French explorer Jacques Cartier regarding his voyage to present-day Quebec, in the early 16th century, Canada’s name originates from the Saint-Lawrence Iroquoian word “canada”, which means “village” or “settlement.” It was once thought to originate from the Mohawk word “Kanata,” which means the same thing.
4. Canada has the world’s longest coastline, measuring 125,567 miles, or 202,080 kilometres.
5. Canada is the garter snake capital of the world. At the Narcisse Snake Dens, 130-km north of Winnipeg , tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes slither out from their dens for a few weeks from mid-April to early May. Viewing platforms have been built, so visitors can watch from afar.Wood Buffalo National Park.
6. In 1967, Canada built the world’s first-ever UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta, as one of the country’s most unique Centennial projects. The town donated the land, while local businesses contributed the building supplies and labour for the elevated cement pad, which was officially opened by Paul Hellyer, then Minister of National Defense.
7. Alberta has a national park larger than the whole of Switzerland. Wood Buffalo National Park extends from the border of Northern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories. Created in 1922, the park serves as a protected area for the world’s largest herd of roaming Wood Bison, It is also the last known nesting site of whooping cranes.
8. Canada is home to a variety of large animals, like the moose and grizzly bear, but it is also home to about 55,000 species of insects and about 11,000 species of mites and spiders.
9. Hollywood loves making movies in picturesque Canada! Several territories have been used as sets for major productions. Some famous movies filmed in Canada include:
• “Twilight” (2008) (New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn) – Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, B.C.
• “Blades of Glory” (2007) – Montreal, Quebec
• “Titanic” (1997)– majority of the film was shot in Halifax, N.S.
• “Incredible Hulk” (2008) – Toronto, Ontario
• “Capote” (2005) – Winnipeg, Manitoba
• “Mean Girls” (2004) – Toronto, Ontario
• “Brokeback Mountain” (2005) – Canadian Rockies, Alberta
• “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002) – Toronto, Ontario
• “Taking Lives” (2004) – Montreal, Quebec
• “One Week” (2008) – Coast to Coast – from Toronto through the Prairies and the Rockies to Vancouver Island
10. Canadians are a joke – in the best way possible! They are among the world’s most hilarious people. Canadians seem to be innately humorous, a characteristic which has given rise to many sociological studies. Several comic heavyweights are from Canada . Among them: Jim Carrey, John Candy, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Aykroyd, Seth Rogen, Mike Myers, Phil Hartman, Michael Cera, and Leslie Nielsen. Saturday Night Live was created and produced by a Torontonian, Lorne Michaels. Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival is the world’s biggest comedy festival. Canada is truly a laugh and a half.
11. Perhaps this love for laughter is a reason that Canadians live longer than many other people groups across the world. In 2009, Canada ranked sixth in terms of longest life expectancy worldwide. The gap in life expectancy between Canada and the U.S., for instance, is ever-widening; with Canadians living three years longer than Americans, on the average. Life expectancy is a good indicator of overall health in a country.
12. Canadians like to finish a sentence with the word “eh.” And, if you want to smile, ask any true Canadian to say “about.” Canadians are also known for their idiosyncratic yet adorable phrases and expressions, such as calling their two-dollar coins “Toonies,” cases of beer “two-fours,” and asking the question “What do you pay for hydro?”
13. No other part of the globe has locations with names like – errrrr – Balls Falls (a conservation area in Ontario), Crotch Lake (also in Ontario), and Dildo, Newfoundland (a town name capable of inducing a guffaw or giggle in even the most stoic of persons.)
14. Montreal is home to many beautiful churches and is often called The City of Saints or City of a hundred bell towers.
15. Forget the brew, grab a bottle of bubble bath for this race, instead! Vancouver Island is Home to an Annual Bathtub Race. This competition may seem a bit of a bubble-headed idea, but it has become a serious sport. Tubbers come from as far as Australia to compete in this crazy competition that started as Nanaimo’s Centennial event in 1967. Bathtubs are covered and fashioned into high-performance boats and jet across a 90-minute course. The race is held on the last weekend of July, as part of the weekend-long Nanaimo Marine Festival, which includes a Bathtub Parade.
16. Shhhh…don’t tell anyone, but The Canadian Postal is North Pole in disguise. Every year, thousands of kind-hearted and Christmas-spirited Canadians volunteer to answer letters that kids around the world send to Santa). For over 32 years, Canada Post employees and retirees have helped Santa answer over 21.8 million letters in 30 languages (including braille). Santa’s address is:
NORTH POLE H0H 0H0
17. In Canada, The Order of the Jedi (yes, the Star Wars kind) is an official, state-approved philosophy, bordering on religion.
18. Canadian inventions include the game Trivial Pursuit (Scott Abbot and Chris Haney), the telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), basketball (James Naismeth) and the snowmobile (Joseph-Armand Bombardier).
19. Canada is home to 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites and four marine conservation areas. There are 15 world heritage sites in Canada. The one with the most interesting name is Head Smashed In-Buffalo-Jump.
20. The Hotel de Glace in Quebec is built every year using 400 tons of ice and 12 000 tons of snow. Every summer it melts away and every winter it is rebuilt. This icy wonder is open for three months every year, from January to March, and takes 50 workers a month and a half to construct.
Just twenty fun facts about a land as fascinating as she is quirky; as breathtaking as she is mind-boggling; as sought-after and desired as she remains a dream, for many.
Or, should I say…Eh! Canada!
Perhaps more accurately…Canada, eh!