Growing up in the U.S., we rarely talked about Canada in school. If fact, I often joke with my Canadian friends that, when I was young, I didn’t even know that there was anything north of the United States. All of our classroom maps depicted the U.S. as if a floating land mass surrounded by sea. Something like this:
We didn’t pay much attention to Canada and, honestly, I am not quite sure why. It's people are “the nicest” humans in the world (I married one!) and the topography and beauty is varied and unmatched. But, it’s true, most of us Americans don’t know the first thing about Canada. Ok, well we all know it’s cold, and that everyone says “eh”, and that they drink Molson, love ice hockey, and proudly wear their flag. But, that is pretty much where our knowledge ends, period. [Side note: embarrassingly, during the eve of my wedding rehearsal, my future in-laws staged an impromptu Canadian trivia test in which I completely failed]. Thankfully, they still allowed me to marry their son…truly, the nicest people in the world, eh?
Now in 2017, in a surprising twist of our times, we are [belatedly] paying more attention to Canada these days than ever before. Prime Minister Trudeau is the antithesis of President Trump and that in itself is plenty worthy of attention.
So, in honor of Canada’s 150th anniversary (as they call it “The Sesquicentennial Anniversary of Canadian Confederation”) let me take time to share with you the few things that I have learned over the years that you just may not know.
But before we get started, let me say that what you DO already know, is in fact ALL true. It is cold (despite that there are 2 weeks at varying times in the summer that you would never believe this). And yes, the people ARE the nicest in the world even though they were edged out by Switzerland (what whaat??). And, if choosing to debate any historical ice hockey moment, Americans would be wise to refrain from challenging any Canadian on this topic.
Nevertheless, beyond these indisputables, here are some things that you [truly] probably didn’t know.
1) Not every person you see sporting a Canadian flag is indeed Canadian. In fact, the positive Canadian stereotype is so strong that many “Non-Canadian” travelers flat out lie just to make themselves seem cool, neutral, and well-liked. As a Canadian, you can ACTUALLY tell people you are from Canada without any repercussion.
2) Did you know that lacrosse is Canada’s national sport … NOT ice hockey?
3) Did you know that Canada celebrates Thanksgiving too? Except that Canada celebrates this day on the second weekend in October instead of November and in honor of ... well, no one really knows the origin but it’s a “bountiful harvest” nonetheless.
4) Did you know that Canada has highway overpasses made solely for wildlife? This way, grizzly bears, moose, elk, sheep, coyotes, and wolves can safely pass busy highways without becoming roadkill. People, you are entirely on your own.
5) When you think of the Northern Lights, don’t just think Alaska or Scandinavia, some of the best views can be seen from Northern Canada!
6) Did you know that Manitoba is the polar bear capital of the world?
7) Oh by the way, Manitoba is a P-R-O-V-I-N-C-E. Province is kind of like a state but there are only 10 of these Provinces in Canada and they are “governed” differently than [see point #8 below].
8) And then, there are these things called T-E-R-R-I-T-O-R-I-E-S. There are three territories in Canada and they are WAY up there. Up North of North that is. Yukon, The Northwest Territories, and Nunavut. I can’t really explain the difference between provinces and territories and I never really got a straight answer from any Canadian either. But, what I do know, is there are NOT a lot of people up there and those who do live up there don’t really give a $#@% about the rest of Canada unless it has to do with global warming or oil.
9) Did you know that some of your favorite movies were filmed in Canada and those actors and actresses and singers you love are all Canadian? Name one, look it up on Wikipedia, and I swear they will be Canadian. In a country that only boasts 35.8 million people (vs 321.4 million in the US), that’s a pretty good hit rate!
10) That thing about French Canadians vs. non French Canadians you heard? Well, whatever you heard, it’s probably true.
11) Lastly, on a wild n’ crazy geography note, did you know that Canada is also home to an island, within an island, within an island. Got that? So, basically a 3rd degree island. For Reals. Check it out here.
Anyway, happy Canada Day people (one day late) and don’t forget to take the time to learn a little bit more about our friendly neighbors to the North! We are NOT an island.
[**Check out some cool Google Earth Voyager footage on Canada here --FYI only chrome browsers work].