Today, in Canada – the true North strong and free – we’re celebrating our 147th birthday! In communities large and small, from sea to shining sea, they’ll be bringing out the huge bakery slab cakes emblazoned with red and white maple leaves. There will be parades, local artists belting out tunes from town centre bandstands, face painting, sack races and everyone waving mini flags and proudly wearing maple leaf T-shirts and hats.
It’s our birthday and though we Canadians have a reputation for being self-deprecating and laid back – always apologizing and saying things like please and thank you and excuse me – we can party down with the best of them. You get what I’m saying – eh?
Here are a few facts about Canada that some of you may have been unaware of – including the Canadians out there.
Canada is huge! At 9 984 670 square km and comprised of 6 time zones, you better believe it.
For all you Winnie the Pooh fans – 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.
The Big Nickel in Sudbury, Ontario is the world’s largest coin. It is a huge reproduction of a 1951 Canadian nickel and measures 9 meters in diameter.
Canada has a desert. It’s only 15 miles long but it’s the only desert in the world with a long boardwalk for visitors to walk out on. (Desert Centre in Osoyoos, British Columbia)
31% of Canada is forest. Where I live that is quite easy to believe.
20% of the world’s fresh water is in Canada. Think the Great Lakes and you’ll understand, to say nothing of Manitoba – known as the land of a thousand lakes.
247 car accidents a year in Canada involve a car and a moose. I’m thinking many of these happen in Newfoundland but the mighty moose roams more than one province.
Canada produces 77% of the world’s maple syrup. There’s a reason they sell it in the airport gift shops.
Canada’s name comes from a misunderstanding between Jacques Cartier and some Iroquois youth who were pointing out a village (for which they used the word “Kanata”). They were actually trying to identify the small area which is present day Quebec City, but Cartier used the similar-sounding word “Canada” to refer to the whole area. Oops!
The Narcisse Snake Dens in Manitoba have more snakes in a concentrated area than anywhere else in the world. Tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes gather there every year. On the other hand, there are no snakes on the island of Newfoundland, at all. I’m thinking maybe St. Patrick made a stop there on his travels.
In 1962, Pincher Creek, Alberta experienced the fastest, biggest temperature change ever recorded in Canada as a result of a Chinook (a warm, dry wind that comes off the Rocky Mountains). The temperature rose from -19C to 22C in just one hour! Hardly enough time to get the long johns off and the bathing suit on.
Between 1984 and 2008, it was illegal to sell pop in cans in PEI. All carbonated drinks had to be purchased in refillable glass bottles. PEI was the only place in North America to have a “can ban.”
Forget the Loch Ness Monster: Canada has its own mysterious lake creature, Ogopogo, who reportedly lives in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.
We are home to “Iceberg Alley” where every spring, massive islands of ice break off glaciers in Greenland and parade past the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. That is definitely on my must-see list.
It’s thanks to thousands of kind Canadians that kids around the world get answers to their letters and emails to Santa each year. Canada Post volunteers have answered more than 1 million letters in 30 languages (including braille). They ask that you don’t include cookies, but do include the postal code: HOH OHO.
Carleton Place makes the world’s best baseball bats – In 2012, more than 100 Major League Baseball players chose to swing Canadian maple wood bats – better known as the “Sam Bat”. Sam Holman, founder of the The Original Maple Bat Corporation, invented the bat by choosing maple wood, a harder wood than the traditionally used ash. So, if you see a professional player with a little logo on their baseball bat, that’s one of the 18,000 sluggers produced each year in Carleton Place, a half-hour from Ottawa.
95% of the world’s lentils are grown in Saskatchewan. Wow – all I can say is wow.
Scarborough makes most of the world’s Halls cough candies. The plant at Bertrand produced more than 6 billion pieces of “medicine” for the U.S. last year – enough that if you lined them side-by-side they would circle the earth at the equator approximately 3.4 times
The Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg produces coins for 60 different countries – kroner, peso or centavo, anyone?
Hamilton, Ontario makes the world’s Swedish fish. Those chewy Swedish Fish sure weren’t made in Sweden! More than 5 billion of the colourful little candies are produced in Hamilton, Ontario every year – that’s all of the Swedish Fish consumed in North America.
The world’s best cymbals come from New Brunswick. Just ask Rush, Keith Harris of the Black Eyed Peas, the Philadelphia Orchestra and marching bands around the world. The small village of Meductic (population 300), located along the Saint John River in southern New Brunswick produce the SABIAN cymbals which are sold in 120 countries around the world.
Well, there you have it, folks. Canada – we love you – one little, two little, three little Canadians. Who remembers learning that song for Expo ‘67?
Here’s a couple of hashtags to get trending: #CanadaDay and #mycanadais – fill in the blank.
Prince Edward Island is hosting the biggest fireworks display in the country. Marianas Trench is playing on Capitol Hill in Ottawa. Sam Roberts is rocking out in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. The never-ending rain didn’t stop people from forming a massive Canadian flag in Winnipeg. All I can say is, Go Canada.
I’ll leave you with my two favourite little Canada Day celebrants having fun at their local festivies.