People waving Canadian flags on Canada Day

Travel Guide: A Brief Overview of Interesting Canadian Facts

As of this year, on July 1, 2021, Canada will be celebrating its 154th anniversary as a nation. Also known as Canada Day, Canadians celebrate this holiday to display national pride, eat local cuisine, and enjoy Canadian beer. It’s very similar to Independence Day in America. 

For fellow Canadians and those who are interested in learning more about this beautiful country, I thought I’d put together a list of the top weird, fun, and interesting facts about Canada. Enjoy!

Canada’s History

Canadian flag waving in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.
Source: Jason Hasfo from Unsplash
  1. On July 1,1867, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, making Canada a country.
  2. However, the Canadian flag did not exist until 98 years after Canada became a country, on February 15,1965.
  3. The official languages of Canada are English and French.
  4. The first explorer to reach Canada was John Cabot in 1497.
  5. Vikings settled on the east coast of Canada around 1000 AD. It is definitely worth visiting L’Anse aux Meadows, part of Newfoundland’s Viking Trail.
  6. Newfoundland only became a province in 1949.
  7. Tools that date back 20,000 years are the first evidence of history in Canada. They were found in caves on the Bluefish River in northern Yukon.
  8. In 1610, Henry Hudson was the first to sail through the Hudson Strait into Hudson Bay.
  9. Martin Frobisher discovered the strait that bears his name in 1576.
  10. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first voyage across the northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in 1906.
  11. During 1792-74, Captain George Vancouver painstakingly surveyed the west coast of Canada.
  12. Canada was invaded twice by Americans – once in 1775 and once in 1812. During the American Civil War, Canada (really Britain, because Canada wasn’t yet a country) destroyed the White House.

Canada’s Geography

Moraine Lake and mountains in Banff National Park, Alberta
Source: John Lee from Unsplash
  1. Canada is the world’s second largest country.
  2. Canada occupies more than one-third of the area of the entire European Union (33 times the size of Italy and 15 times the size of France), is larger than Australia by more than 30 percent, five times the size of Mexico, and three times the size of India.
  3. In terms of length, the Trans-Canada Highway is the longest road in the world, at 7,604 kilometers (4,725 miles).
  4. Canada has six time zones.
  5. There are ten provinces and three territories in Canada.
  6. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, measuring 243,977 kilometers (151,600). 
  7. The highest tides on Earth happen at the Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The body of water moves 100 billion tons of water through its tides twice a day.
  8. Additionally, 20% of the freshwater in the world is found in Canada.
  9. Canada has more lakes than any other country on Earth. Nearly half of all the lakes in the world are in Canada!
  10. Canada has two of the ten largest lakes in the world. Both Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake are located in the Northwest Territories.
  11. Wasaga Beach in Ontario is the world’s longest freshwater beach.
  12. Canada has three of the largest islands in the world – Baffin Island, Victoria Island, and Ellesmere Island.
  13. Manitoulin Island in Ontario is the world’s largest freshwater island.
  14. Canada is also home to 9 percent of the world’s renewable water.
  15. St. Elias Mountains, Yukon Territory, is home to the largest non-polar ice field in the world. In total, it has an area of 40,570 square kilometers, 16900 square kilometers of which are in Canada. Alaska holds the rest.
  16. About 50% of the country consists of forest, which amounts to 10% of the world’s forests.

Canadian Cities

View of Toronto buildings across the lake during sunset hour.
Source: Alex Shutin from Unsplash
  1. Toronto is Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural cities in the world.
  2. Toronto’s CN Tower is the tallest free-standing structure in North America. 
  3. Toronto is also home to the world’s longest street, Yonge Street, which extends from Toronto to Lake Simcoe (1,186 km).
  4. Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris.
  5. Six Canadian cities have a population over 1 million: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa.
  6. Canada’s capital is Ottawa.
  7. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa is also the world’s largest skating rink (Recommended: Ottawa in Winter).
  8. Old Quebec is the only walled city north of Mexico. It was also the first city in North America to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  9. The West Edmonton Mall is North America’s largest mall. Among the facilities are an indoor theme park, a water park, restaurants, and an aquarium.
  10. Edmonton is also home to the largest urban park in the world.
  11. Winnipeg has the coldest climate in Canada. 
  12. Winnipeg’s cold weather makes for the longest skating rink in the world.
  13. The Calgary Stampede is a famous event in Calgary. It features one of the largest rodeos in the world, a midway, concerts, and food trucks.

 Weather in Canada

Snow, trees and a distant mountain view in Banff, Alberta
Source: Giovanni Moschini from Unsplash
  1. Canada’s lowest temperature ever was -63 degrees Celsius in Snag, Yukon on February 3, 1947.
  2. Buffalo Gap, Saskatchewan, recorded the heaviest rainfall ever on May 30, 1961, when 25 centimeters fell in less than one hour.
  3. The Regina tornado of June 30, 1912 was the most severe tornado ever recorded in Canada. It killed 28 people, injured hundreds, and destroyed much of the downtown area.
  4. Alberta has experienced more natural disasters than any other province in Canada. A few examples include the hailstorm that struck Calgary on September 7, 1991, the massive floods in Southern Alberta in 2013, and the fire in Fort McMurray in 2016. Fort McMurray’s fire caused approximately $3.58 billion in damage.
  5. Canada’s weather can be extreme, even in a single day. As an example, in Pitcher Creek back in 1962, it went from -19 degrees Celsius to 22 degrees Celsius within an hour!
  6. Ocean Falls, British Columbia has an average annual rainfall of 330 days.
  7. In Estevan, Saskatchewan, there are reportedly 2,537 hours of sunshine each year, making it the sunniest place in Canada.

Famous Canadians 

Canadian country singer Shania Twain performing on stage at Caeser's Palace in 2012
Source: Wallsdesk.com

Actors: Some of the famous movie stars and comedians from Canada include John Candy, James Cameron, Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Mike Myers, Seth Rogen, Ryan Reynolds, Lorne Michaels, Howie Mandel, Keanu Reeves, Pamela Anderson, William Shatner, and many more.

TV: Famous Canadian journalists, TV or radio personalities include Peter Jennings, Alex Trebek, Lloyd Robertson, Rick Mercer, Peter Gzowski, Robert MacNeil, Morely Safer, and John Roberts.

Music: Canada is also home to many famous musicians. Some of the biggest music stars here include Michael Buble, Justin Bieber, Celine Dion, Drake, Shawn Mendes, Bryan Adams, Rush, The Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morissette, Neil Young, Nelly Furtado, Avril Lavigne, Leonard Cohen, Shania Twain, The Weeknd, Joni Mitchell, and the Tragically Hip.

Writers: Famous authors from Canada include Lucy Maud Montgomery, Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mavis Gallant, Stephen Leacock, Pierre Berton, Robertson Davies, Douglas Copeland, Alistair MacLeod, Farley Mowat and Michael Ondaatje.

Artists: Famous artists from Canada include the Group of Seven made up of Lauren Harris, A.Y Jackson, J.E.H MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Valley, Frank Johnston, and Franklin Carmichael. Tom Thomson and Emily Carr, two other artists that are associated with the group, are also very well known. Famous dancers include Karen Kain, Veronica Tennant and Lynn Seymour.

Inspiring figures: Some of the inspirational figures in Canada include Terry Fox, Rick Hansen, Donovan Bailey, and Viola Desmond.

Sports: We have many sports legends as well, including Wayne Gretzky (hockey), Sydney Crosby (hockey), Steve Nash (basketball), Mike Weir (golf), and Cassie Campbell (women’s hockey). There are many more.

Canadian Food and Drink 

Poutine: French fries smothered in hot gravy and mozzarella cheese curds
Source: iStock
  1. Canada’s national beer is Molson Canadian.
  2. In Saint John, New Brunswick, Moosehead Breweries Limited is Canada’s oldest independent brewery. The brewery was founded in 1867, and is still privately owned and operated by the Olands. The company is now in its sixth generation of family ownership and produces 1,642 bottles of beer per minute.
  3. The national drink of Canada is the Ceaser. This drink is similar to a Bloody Mary, but instead of tomato juice, it uses Clamato juice (clam juice mixed with tomato juice).
  4. A variety of wines are produced in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia.
  5. Icewine, which is made from pressing frozen grapes, is Canada’s most popular drink. Typically, it is served as dessert wine.
  6. More than 77% of the maple syrup in the world is produced in Quebec. Over 80% of the world’s supply originates in Canada.
  7. The Hawaiian pizza was invented by an Ontario man in 1962.
  8. Canadians consume the most Mac and Cheese in the world. However, we call it Kraft Dinner.
  9. The most popular cheese in Canada is cheddar.
  10. The Calgary Stampede serves approximately 200,000 pancakes every year.
  11. The Nanaimo Bar is a popular treat from Nanaimo, British Columbia.
  12. The most famous donut shop in Canada is Tim Horton’s.
  13. Poutine is one of Canada’s most popular dishes. It consists of french fries smothered in gravy and mozzarella cheese curds.
  14. Butter tarts were invented in Barrie, Ontario, in 1900.
  15. Ginger Ale is originally from Toronto, Ontario. Canada Dry is the most popular ginger ale brand in the country.
  16. Alberta and Manitoba are the two provinces where canola oil is produced.
  17. Montreal was the first city to create peanut butter.
  18. Ottawa, Ontario is famous for its fried dessert known as Beaver Tails.

Facts about Canadians

Person wearing a t-shirt resembling the National Flag of Canada
Source: BBC
  1. Canada had an estimated population of 37.59 million in 2019.
  2. Eighty-one percent of the population lives in cities.
  3. Canadians are the most educated people in the world. More than half of the population has a post-secondary education.
  4. Canada also has a 99% literacy rate, which is great. However, there are many countries that have a 100% literacy rate, so we still have plenty of room to improve.
  5. In Canada, almost half of the population is foreign-born.
  6. Canada, despite its size, has the fourth lowest population density in the world, with only three people per square kilometer.
  7. 90% of Canada’s population lives within 160 kilometers of the Canada-U.S. border.
  8. In Canada, 15.9% of the population is 65 or older, while 68.5% are between 15 and 64.
  9. The median age is 41 years old.
  10. In Canada, the average life expectancy at birth is 81.16 years – the sixth highest in the world.
  11. Canadians tend to use the word “eh” a lot. For example, “How about that hockey game, eh?”
  12. Canada has welcomed 341,000 permanent residents in 2019. Those numbers do not include temporary workers or foreign students.
  13. There is a one dollar coin called a Loonie, and a two dollar coin called a Toonie.
  14. About 15% of Canadians smoke daily as of 2017.
  15. Each week, the average Canadian watches 30 hours of TV.
  16. The average age at first marriage for men is 29 years, and for women it’s 27 years.
  17. Average household size in Canada is 2.6 people.
  18. Canadians generate 640 kg per person per year of waste.
  19. Canada is the second country to legalize marijuana in 2017. The first one is Uruguay. These are still the only two countries to fully legalize the drug.

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Sports in Canada

Members of team Canada's men's league pose for a group photo in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games
Source: Hockey Canada
  1. Hockey and lacrosse are Canada’s national sports. Hockey is the winter sport, whereas lacrosse is the summer sport. However, very few people play lacrosse, especially when compared to soccer. (Read More: Cultural Anthropology of the Top 7 Sports in Canada)
  2. The baseball glove was invented in Canada in 1883.
  3. Basketball is a sport invented by Canadian Dr. James Naismith, who, in 1891, defined 13 rules of the game while teaching at a local YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  4. Canada has hosted the Olympic Games three times; 1876 in Montreal, 1988 in Calgary and 2010 in Vancouver.
  5. Sports icons in Canada include Wayne Gretzky (hockey), Sydney Crosby (hockey), Gordie Howe (hockey). Steve Nash (basketball), Mike Weir (golf) and Cassie Campbell (women’s hockey).
  6. Whistler, British Columbia is consistently ranked as one of the best places in North America for downhill skiing. Then again, so is Lake Louise, Alberta!
  7. The Royal Montreal Golf Club (1873) is the oldest golf club in North America.
  8. The first indoor ice hockey game took place on March 3, 1875, at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal.
  9. Ice hockey, football and baseball are the top spectator sports for Canadians.

Canadian Culture

People waving Canadian flags on Canada Day
Source: Time and Date
  1. The world’s largest totem pole was raised in Victoria in 1994 and stands 180.2 feet tall.
  2. The famous Canadian interjection “eh” is listed as a valid word in the Oxford Dictionary.
  3. In Flander’s Fields is a poem written by World War I Col. John McCrae, a veteran of the Second World War. He wrote the poem as an admiration of the courage of the dead when he saw red poppies swaying among the gravestones of his fallen soldiers.
  4. Canada’s first million-selling author was Marshall Saunders, with her novel Beautiful Joe (1894).
  5. Queen Elizabeth II is the Canadian Head of State.
  6. The Canadian motto is A Mari Usque ad Mare. It means from sea to sea.
  7. The English version of Canada’s National Anthem – O Canada – was written by Robert Stanley Weir for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927.
  8. The National Flag of Canada came into being in 1965 to replace the Union Jack. It’s an 11 pointed maple leaf on a white square.
  9. The most widely-attended festivals in Canada include: Montreal International Jazz Festival, Winterlude (Ottawa), Celebration of Light (Vancouver), Just For Laughs (Montreal), Quebec City Summer Festival, Canadian National Exhibition (Toronto), Calgary Stampede, Pride Toronto, Toronto International Film Festival, and Quebec Winter Carnival.

Final Thoughts

These are only just some of the fun, weird, interesting facts about Canada. There’s so many things to know about Canada and we didn’t have a chance to get through all of them. However, I hope this article was informative enough for you, and helped you learn a little more about this beautiful country! Happy Canada Day!

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