Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Great White North Revealed

We are celebrating The Great White North on Gingersnap Creations in December! That had me thinking that, in honor (honour) of my former "home and native land", I could give you some interesting facts about the world's second largest country!

Canada is one of the top ten trading nations in the world, despite being 36th in the world in terms of population (approximately 33,739,900 citizens). Go Canada!

Stamp credits: Stamping Bella (Thornhill, Ontario)
and Chapel Road Art Stamps (Oshawa, Ontario)

Canada is now the world leader in higher education for young adults according to a study by US Commission on Access, Admissions and Success in Higher Education College Completion Agenda 2010 Progress Report. Excellent!

Canadians live on average to the ripe old age of 80! Check out where your country falls here.

Like a little sparkle in your life? Canada is the third-largest diamond producer in the world.

The east coast of Canada was settled by Vikings around the year A.D. 1000. according to archaeological evidence found in L'anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. How cool is that?

Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world at 151,600 miles. It also has the longest international border between two nations at 5,525 miles.

The inspiration for the beloved children's classic, Winnie the Pooh, was a Canadian black bear cub named Winnipeg who was donated to the London Zoo. The bear became a favorite (favourite) of young Christopher Robin Milne.

A few famous Canadians you may know that are not Lorne Greene:
  • James Gosling, father of the Java programming language
  • Frederick Banting, co-inventor of insulin
  • Air Marshall William Avery Bishop aka Billy Bishop, WWI flying ace
  • Wilfred Bigelow, inventor of first artificial pacemaker
  • Doug Henning, magician
  • Marshall McLuhan, communications theorist who coined "the medium is the message"
  • Captain Roy Brown, WWI fighter pilot officially credited with shooting down the Red Baron
  • Mary Pickford, "America's Sweetheart" of early Hollywood and co-founder of the film studio United Artists
  • Winners of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry - Sidney Altman, Gerhard Herzberg, John Charles Polanyi, Michael Smith and Henry Taube
  • Jacques Villeneuve, racecar driver
  • Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, poet and author of In Flanders Fields
  • Winners of the Nobel Prize for Economics Myron Scholes and William Vickrey
  • actors Walter Pidgeon, Raymond Burr, Christopher Plummer, Donald and Kiefer Sutherland, Micheal J. Fox, Dan Ackroyd, Neve Campbell, Jim Carrey and Mike Myers as well as a ton more - see Wikipedia's list
  • Skaters Toller Cranston, Brian Orser and Kurt Browning
  • James Naismith, inventor of basketball (while he was in Springfield, Massachusetts)
  • Samantha Bee, of the Daily Show, and Peter Jennings, former CBS anchor
For a ton more famous Canadians, check out this amazing list on Wikipedia.org.

Let's debunk a few common misconceptions.

Yes, Canada does have all four seasons - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter - despite the running joke that Toronto only has two, winter and construction. No, it is not snowy all the time anywhere but north of the Arctic circle and even there they have periods of thaw. During the Summer months, the whole country's temperature averages 21C or 70F and when you consider the country runs from the 49th parallel up to the arctic circle that's a pretty good average. In the major cities, it gets hot in July and August like everywhere else! Check out these highs from August 2010: Toronto, ON (91F), Montreal, QC (90F), Vancouver, BC (88F), Calgary, AB (88F), Fredricton, NB (92F).

No, not all Canadians speak French although Canada does have two official languages. Actually, when at home, about 68% speak only English and 13% speak only French. Another 17% of Canadians say they speak both.

Not all our police officers wear red or ride around on horses. While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police aka RCMP are the official police force of some of our provinces (no, not all), the only time you'll probably see these hard-working law enforcers in their dress reds is on parade or on special occasions.

77% of Canadians live in urban environments, about the same as in the USA. Toronto, often hailed as one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world, is the eighth largest metropolitan area in North America. By the way, Toronto is not the capital of Canada - that's Ottawa also located in Ontario. Montreal is bigger than Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver and Saint Louis. Vancouver beats Pittsburgh, Orlando and Cincinnati in population.

Canadians don't all say "eh" and, in my personal experience, only people imitating Canadians seem to say "a-boot".

Not all Canadians play hockey. Enough said on that one. By the way, hockey is only the National Winter Sport of Canada and has only held that designation since 1994. LaCrosse, now the National Summer Sport, used to be official national sport of the nation.

Many Canadians love gadgets and technology. Canada ranks 12th in the world for internet usage with about 84% of the population using the net on a regular basis, compared with 77% in the USA.

Canadians do not sit around and drink beer all day. According to recent stats on Wikipedia.org, Canada is about 21st in per capita beer consumption, well behind the UK at 6th and the USA at 13th.

Canada is a sovereign nation. It's not a colony and it's definitely not an American state. It has 10 amazing provinces and 3 unbelievably beautiful territories that all have their own distinctive and wonderful characters.

As proud as I am to be a new American, I am just as proud to have been born in the great country of Canada. I guess the last myth about Canadians is that they are not patriotic, but if you want to dispel that one, just ask any Canadian about their "home and native land". You'll get an earful!

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