Although the hot summer days of July are long behind us, 2017 is still Canada's 150th year. In honour of Canada's sesquicentennial birthday, I decided to put together a list of 150 things about Canada. This list talks about our quirkiness, our strengths, our weakness, and our legacy, for better and for worse. There are some sad facts, some odd facts and some facts that will probably make you open another tab to look into for yourself.
Hope you enjoy this list, and I hope you all had a great 2017!
1. Canada's two official languages are French and English, but only 20.6% of Canadians speak French.
2. Poutine is Canada's national dish while Nanaimo Bars are Canada's national dessert.
3. Canada's national summer sport is lacrosse while its national winter sport is ice hockey.
4. Canada's population is 36,000,000, which is about 1/10 that of the United States of America and about half that of the United Kingdom.
5. Canada only borders one country: The United States of America.
6. 90% of Canadians live within 2 hours of the United States.
7. The Canadian/US border is the longest border in the world that lacks military defense.
8. The name "Canada" comes from the word "Kanata" used by the Iroquois First Nations. "Kanata" means "Village".
9. Canada officially became a country on July 1st, 1987.
10. Canada became its own independent country in 1982.
11. As of 2017, Canada is 150 years old.
12. Canada is only 6 years younger than Italy.
13. Canada's national animal is the beaver.
14. While Canada has no official bird, most people associate it with being the Canadian goosegrey jay Canadian goose (let's hope that debate is settled).
15. The Canadian flag has a red, 11-pointed maple leaf on it.
16. When the Canadian flag was first adopted, Saskatchewan politicians rallied for it to be blue and white and have three maple leaves on it.
17. The capital city of Canada has been in 5 different cities: Kingston, Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
18. Canadians used a mix of American and British English when writing.
19. The Canadian two-dollar coin was introduced into circulation in 1996.
20. Kim Campbell was Canada's first (and only) female Prime Minister.
21. The first European settlers were Vikings and temporarily arrived in Canadian around the year 1,000 CE.
22. Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world.
23. Canada has more fresh water lakes than the rest of the world combined.
24. The tallest tides in the world are at the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick.
25. Sable Island, located off the coast of Nova Scotia, is a horse sanctuary where people are only allowed to visit with permission from Parks Canada.
26. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was in Snag, Yukon and was -62 Celsius (-79 Fahrenheit) in 1947.
27. The coldest wind-chill ever recorded in Canada was in Pelly Bay, Northwest Territories and was -91 Celsius (-131.8 Fahrenheit) in 1989.
28. Canada's biggest island is Baffin Island. It is the fifth biggest island in the world, and is bigger than every state in the United States besides Alaska and Texas. It is more than twice as large as the entire United Kingdom.
29. Canada's Trans-Canada Highway is the longest highway in the world.
30. The longest bridge in Canada is Confederation Bridge. It is almost 13 kilometers long and transports about 4,000 vehicles each day.
Tragedy and Crime
31. Canada's deadliest volcanic eruption occurred around the year 1700. As it happened prior to European contact, the exact date was unknown, but it occurred in what is now British Columbia. According to First Nations lore, the Tseax Cone eruption killed over 2,000 people.
32. Canada's deadliest natural disaster occurred on September 9th, 1775 when a hurricane swirled off the coast of Newfoundland. It would kill over 4,000 people.
33. Canada's deadliest tornado occurred on June 30th, 1912 in Regina, Saskatchewan. It would take the lives of 28 people.
34. The Spanish Influenza killed as Canadians as World War I between the years 1918 – 1920. It would take the lives of 20 – 50,000 Canadians.
35. Only two people have ever been charged for High Treason in Canadian history: Thomas Scott, who was executed by Louis Riel, and Louis Riel for his execution of Thomas Scott.
36. The death penalty was abolished in Canada in 1976.
37. All Canadian Rights and Freedoms were revoked in 1970 during the "October Crisis" to assist in the capture of FLQ terrorists.
38. Canadians have limited freedom of speech. In Canada, it is illegal to utter threats, slander or promote hate speech.
39. Until 2017 it was illegal to pretend to perform magic (legitimate magic was legal), to duel and to show violence in comic books.
40. Canada has an "Apology Act" that allows apologies in court to be considered a sign of empathy, not guilt.
41. Thomas D'Arcy McGee, one of Canada's Founding Fathers, was assassinated on April 7th, 1868 by a Fenian sympathizer.
42. George Brown, founder of the Toronto Globe and one of Canada's Founding Fathers, was shot in the leg by a disgruntled former employee after firing him. While his injury was not fatal, it would become gangrenous and took his life on May 9th, 1880.
43. Pierre Laporte would be killed by the FLQ during the October Crisis. His body would be found in the trunk of a car on October 17th, 1970. He would be the third and final politician ever assassinated in Canadian politics.
War & Peace
44. Eastern Canada was originally called "New France". With the later purchase of New Spain in the centre of what is now the United States, New France became one of the largest countries in the world. It extended from Wyoming to modern New York, and from Quebec to Florida.
45. The Great Peace of Montreal was a peace treaty in 1701 between New France and 40 First Nations tribes of North America. It would last 16 years.
46. The British bombing of Quebec City, and the follow-up battle at the Plains of Abraham, lead to the dissolution of New France and into the days of British control. This occurred in 1759.
47. The United States invaded Canada twice, in 1775 and 1812. They lost both times.
48. Grosse Isle in Quebec contains the bodies of over 5,000 Irish immigrants that either died on the island due of a cholera outbreak, or died while in transport. Grosse Isle is the largest burial ground for refugees of the Great Famine outside Ireland.
49. The Aboriginal People of Canada have conflicted with European settlers since the 1490s. This came to a peak in 1885 during the North-West Rebellion. The Plains Cree First Nations call this event "ē-mēyihkamikahk", which means "when it went wrong".
50. The Indian Residential Schools program was enacted in the 1870s and existed until the 1990s. This program's purpose was to educate and literate the Aboriginal People of Canada. Instead, this program became a system of cultural genocide. Many children would die attending these schools and those that survived would live with permanent sociological and psychological problems.
51. Following a rush of Chinese immigrants into Canada during the late 1800s and early 1900s to build a cross-country railroad, the Canadian Government implemented a "head tax" on all Chinese immigrants. It began as a $50 fee in 1885 but became a $500 fee by 1904. Many Chinese immigrants were forced into hiding. Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan's main attraction "The Tunnels of Moose Jaw" show some of the tunnels these Chinese immigrants were forced to live in.
52. In 1924, Peter Verigin would be travelling through British Columbia when his train car mysteriously exploded. It is believed the explosion was deliberate, but 90 years later, it is still considered an active investigation. Many believe he was assassinated by the Canadian government.
53. During World War I, internment or "concentration" camps were set up across Canada to house various "enemy aliens" that lived in the country. These were mostly innocent civilians of German, Hungarian and Ukrainian heritage.
54. A similar project would be implemented in World War II. There were camps built for Japanese born citizens in British Columbia following the attack at Pearl Harbour. These people would live in camps from 1941 until 1949, long after the war had ended. Their savings, property and goods were all sold off by the government while they were imprisoned.
55. POW camps popped up around the country during World War II. The camps would hold nearly 34,000 prisoners. The town of Medicine Hat, Alberta doubled in size when the camp was built. To accommodate this vast number of prisoners, many of them would join internal hockey teams. Following the war, all prisoners were sent back to their home country, but many would return and live in Medicine Hat for the rest of their lives.
56. Not all these camps were as positive as the one in Medicine Hat. Camp 47 on St. Helen's Island near Montreal, Quebec was closed prematurely due to the treatment of their prisoners.
57. On May 13, 1939, the St. Louis sailed from Hamburg, Germany, for Havana, Cuba, full of fleeing Jewish immigrants. Upon arriving in Havana, they were turned away. The ship would then drift off the coast of Florida, while the United States government decided what to do. After the US declined to assist, they asked for the help of Canada. Canada too shut their doors. The immigrants were forced to return to Europe and about half of them would be killed in the Holocaust.
58. Canada often receives fleeing American refugees, such as African American slaves, Vietnam War draft dodgers, Afghanistan War draft dodgers, and recent immigrants fleeing deportation due to the election of Donald Trump.
59. Many Canadians agree that Canada officially became a country during the battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.
60. The Halifax Explosion in 1917 was the largest man-made explosion prior to the creation of the atomic bomb in 1945.
61. German Nazi submarines and U-Boats attacked various shipping vessels throughout the St. Lawrence River during World War II. This is one of the few times Canada has ever been attacked by another country.
62. To redirect the American military back to the mainland during World War II, the Japanese launched 10,000 fire balloons across the Pacific Ocean to light the forests of the continent ablaze. Many of these landed in Canada. One of them would be caught on a barbwire fence near the town of Minton, Saskatchewan. It was this discovery that let both Canadian and American military understand what these mysterious fire bombs were, and who was responsible for them.
63. In 1940 the Dutch royal family fled to Canada to escape the encroaching Nazi Third Reich. Princess Juliana was pregnant with her daughter Princess Margriet at the time and there was fear that she might be captured or killed. According to Dutch law, an heir to the thrown must be born on Dutch soil, so a hospital room in Toronto was donated to the Netherlands so the royal family could continue.
64. Many claim the Cold War started in Canada following the Gouzenko Affair in 1945.
65. In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono attempted to do their second "Bed-In For Peace" in New York, but were unable to enter the United States due to a 1968 cannabis conviction against Lennon. They would instead have a "Bed-In For Peace" in Montreal in the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. Here they would record "Give Peace a Chance" and conduct interviews from their bed.
66. Immediatly following 9/11, all flights in the United States were redirected to Canada. The small city of Gander, Newfoundland would house 6,600 Americans from 42 separate flights during the ordeal. In total, 33,000 people were temporarily relocated in Canada.
67. The first Canadian causalities in both the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq against the Islamic State were due to friendly fire.
Province, Parks and Places
68. Wood Buffalo National Park, Northwest Territories is Canada's biggest National Park. It's bigger than the country of Switzerland.
69. Dawson City, Yukon is home to the Sourtoe Cocktail, a drink garnished with an amputated toe. Occasionally, the toe has been accidently swallowed.
70. Alert, Nunavut, is the northernmost permanent settlement in the world.
71. The children's book Anne of Green Gables was written by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery.
72. The province where Montgomery lived, Prince Edward Island, is now home to "Avonlea", a fictional village based off the Anne of Green Gables books.
73. Newfoundland and Labrador wouldn't become part of Canada until 1949. They were a gift from England to repay their debts to Canada following World War II.
74. New Brunswick is Canada's only official bilingual province. (No, it's not Quebec.)
75. Quebec City, Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico.
76. The Château Frontenac in Quebec City is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world.
77. 77% of the world's maple syrup is manufactured in Quebec.
78. Montreal is the world's second largest French speaking city after Paris.
79. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France was almost relocated to Canada in 1967 for the country's centennial celebration.
80. Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec is the only place in the world to have not one, but two exclamation marks in the name.
81. At 1,896 km long, Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada is the longest street in the world.
82. The biggest city in Canada is Toronto, with just about 6 million people (making it home to 1/6th of Canada's population).
83. In Toronto, it's illegal to drag a dead horse down Yonge Street on a Sunday.
84. The recordings for the classic 1964 animation "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" were recorded in a studio in Toronto, Ontario.
85. In 1957 a man named Earnest found a network of tunnels below the Toronto neighbourhood of Cabbagetown. While in these tunnels he encountered a mysterious cave creature that told him to leave. Since then, the entrance to the tunnels have been lost to time.
86. In Ottawa, it's illegal to eat ice cream on Bank Street on Sundays.
87. The canoe capital of the world is in Peterborough, Ontario.
88. The Marysburgh Vortex, also called the "Bermuda Triangle of the North", is in Lake Ontario near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. It is said hundreds of ships have vanished into this vortex, while other ships report malfunctioning equipment or even mysterious fires aboard the ship being started. Both the Canadian and American governments have investigated into this phenomenon.
89. Kingston, Ontario is often considered "The Most Haunted City in Canada".
90. Residents in Churchill, Manitoba leave their car doors unlocked so people can escape a polar bear attack.
91. Helicopters patrol Churchill every Halloween night to protect children from polar bears.
92. "Mincome" was an experimental basic income project in Manitoba during the 1970s. Instead of a minimum wage, all individuals were paid a living wage even if they did not hold employment. This experiment is considered a success.
93. Winnipeg, Manitoba is located at the longitudinal centre of Canada.
94. Manitoba was the first province to grant women the right to vote.
95. Excavation around Winnipeg shows this area was used as a continental trading post around 6,000 years ago, with seashells and stones found here that belong to both coastlines of the country.
96. "911" was invented in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
97. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the longest continuously operating ballet company in North America.
98. The Winnipeg Folk Festival is one of the oldest and largest folk festivals in the world
99. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba is the only national museum to be located outside Ontario.
100. Gimli, Manitoba is the largest Icelandic community in the world outside of Iceland.
101. Manitoba is the Slurpee capital of the world. It has held that record for almost 2 decades.
102. All government documents in Manitoba must be written in both French and English. When this ruling was passed in the 1979, all laws passed since 1890 in Manitoba were deemed obsolete.
103. Winnie The Pooh was named after Winnipeg, Manitoba.
104. The world's most northerly sand dunes are in Athabasca Provincial Park, Saskatchewan.
105. Canada's world-famous "Medicare" program originated in Saskatchewan.
106. Although the province of Saskatchewan was established in 1905, it was originally founded 20 years earlier in 1885 by Louis Riel. It was also originally substantially smaller.
107. Although responsible for the creation of both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Riel is only considered the founding father of Manitoba.
108. The term "psychedelic" was coined in Weyburn, Saskatchewan at the Weyburn Mental Hospital.
109. In Saskatchewan, a hoodie is called a "bunnyhug".
110. The Regina Pats are the oldest major junior hockey franchise in the world.
111. Saskatchewan is home to 100,000 lakes.
112. Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) were invented in Saskatchewan.
113. Until 2016, Tisdale, Saskatchewan's motto was "The Land of Rape and Honey".
114. Saskatchewan has the most roads of any Canadian province. There are enough roads in Saskatchewan to circle the equator 4 times.
115. For every 100,000 people in Saskatchewan, 4.8 of them play in the NHL. This is the highest amount out of any Canadian province, with Manitoba being second at 2.7.
116. Regina, Saskatchewan is home to the world's longest bridge over the shortest span of water.
117. "Cree" is the second most popular language spoken in Saskatchewan.
118. In the 1920s, Saskatchewan had the highest number of Klu Klux Klan members in Canada.
119. The province of Alberta has claimed to be rat-free for over 50 years.
120. The city of Medicine Hat, Alberta completely eradicated homelessness.
121. The world's first UFO landing pad was built in 1967 in St. Paul, Alberta.
122. The town of Vulcan, Alberta has their very own Star Trek–themed tourist station and a replica of the starship Enterprise.
123. In Calgary, if released from prison, it is required by law that you are given a handgun and a horse.
124. The first official usage of the term "trick or treat" was used in Alberta in 1927.
125. Edmonton, Alberta is commonly known as the "Gateway to the North", as it is the most northern capital city in Canada.
126. In British Columbia, it is illegal to kill the Sasquatch.
127. Ogopogo, a mythical sea monster, supposedly lives in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.
128. The United States lost a plane containing a nuclear bomb over the mountains of British Colombia in 1950. The plane would later be found, but the bomb would be missing. It was never recovered.
129. The University of Victoria offers a "Science of Batman" course.
130. After the United States and the USSR, Canada was the 3rd country in space.
131. The world's deepest underground laboratory is located beneath Sudbury, Ontario. It is called SNOLAB and is used to study subatomic particles and dark matter.
132. The vaccine for the Ebola Crisis was created in Winnipeg, Manitoba at Canada's only Containment Level 4 laboratory.
133. Canada has the highest rate of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in the world.
134. Although a certain president of the United States likes to focus on the illegal Mexican immigrants living the US, there are actually 93,000 illegal Canadians living there – more than any other minority.
135. Canada's two biggest political parties in Canadian federal politics are the Liberal and Conservative parties. Both of those parties have been exchanging leadership since Confederation, except for the years 1917 – 1920 when the Unionist Party was in power. This is the only time in Canadian history where a different political party oversaw the government.
136. Hawaiian Pizza was invented in Canada. (Sorry.)
137. Canada's are stereotypically polite and are said to apologize profusely.
138. Canola was invented by Canadians.
139. Canadian money is made from polymer plastic and is rumored to smell of maple syrup.
140. Superman was co-created by Canadian Joe Shuster.
141. Basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismeth.
142. The telephone was invented by Canadian Alexander Graham Bell.
143. Albert Einstein would often come to Canada for "peace and silence". Some even claim he played hockey while in the Great White North.
144. Many Americans call themselves "Canadians" when travelling abroad so that they are treated better.
145. The country of Turks And Caicos has expressed interested in becoming Canada's 11th province. (There are currently 10 provinces and 3 territories. )
146. The most common last name in Canada is "Li", not "Smith" or "Muhammad".
147. Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than anywhere else.
148. Canada consumes more macaroni and cheese than any other country in the world.
149. Canadians can send Santa Claus a Christmas letter. His address is:
Santa Claus, North Pole, HoH oHo, Canada
150. Canada was ranked the #1 destination to visit in the world in 2017 by The New York Times.
Can you think of any other Canadian facts? Tell me them in the comments below, and I'll add them to my list!
Don't forget to pin it!
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
Are you looking to explore Ontario and Quebec? I recommend:
Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, is just a little over two hours southwest of Regina, just past the town of Assiniboia. I've explored this area of the province before on previous trips, but I've never been to Stonehenge. In fact, my journey started out as a trip to Castle Butte, but after seeing a nearby marker for Stonehenge on a map, that quickly became my primary destination.
I've driven this area a few times looking for abandoned buildings. Normally I'd keep an eye out for them, but I knew most of them were a little further south. Before I got that far, I took the turn off to Ogema.
Nestled between the impressive Mount Royal and the majestic St. Lawrence River is Montreal, a city known for its festivals, abstract art, history and mosaic of countless cultures. Montreal is the second largest city in Canada, with a population floating around four million people. While the city is a dynamic mix of Canada's two primary cultures – French and English – there are areas of the city that are culturally specific, such as Little Italy, Greektown and Chinatown. Known for its artistic and liberal mindedness, Montreal also boasts the largest community of homosexuals in North America in their very own "Gay Village".
Being nearly 375 years old, Montreal was pivotal to the creation of New France and Canada and at a time held control over every waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Gulf of Mexico. Having such incredible influence over the western part of the New World, Montreal hosted the "Great Peace of Montreal" in 1701, which started sixteen years of peace between the French and over 40 different First Nation tribes in North America.
Since its early days, Montreal has been one of the most influential cities in Canada. Montreal housed "internment camps" during World War I, became an ideal location for Americans looking for alcohol during Prohibition, and was the official residence of the Luxembourg royal family during World War II. Montreal held host to the incredible Expo 67, showcasing some of the most incredible architecture of that decade. The seventies saw serious political reformation in Montreal, with many Americans arriving, fleeing the Vietnam Draft. The late seventies paralyzed the city as a terrorist organization, the Front de libération du Québec, detonated explosives throughout the city and kidnapped and killed political figures. These actions forced the Prime Minster to enact the "War Measures Act" and deploy the military into the city to apprehend the terrorists. The eighties and nineties saw two referendums in the province of Quebec to separate from Canada, with Montreal playing a major role in both decisions. The last referendum in 1995 ended with 51% percent of Quebecers wanting to remain part of Canada and 49% wanting to separate.
Since I am Saskatchewan born and raised, it always bothered me when people said there's nothing to do in my home province. If you're looking for culture, history, food, beer, sporting events, community or a touch of quirkiness, Saskatchewan is the best place to visit!
If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you'll know I could write a whole article about places to visit in Saskatchewan (actually, I have written it). For sake of brevity, I handpicked some of my favourite places, but there are many that I left out. Are there any places you'd add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.