13 Things You Didn’t Know About Being a Canadian
Who says Canada is boring? From a restaurant that serves a toe cocktail to a Prime Minister who consulted a crystal ball, Canada can be a fascinating place. Here are 13 amazing things you probably didn’t know about being a Canadian.
1. Being a Canadian: Sanctuary for Stray Cats
Here’s one thing you didn’t know about being a Canadian. Originally cats were used in the Parliament buildings to control mice. A colony of strays have lived just behind the Parliament buildings since the 70’s. Fed and cared for by volunteers, today’s residents live in little wooden houses and have their own blog and Facebook page.
2. Being a Canadian: Crystal Ball
Here’s another fun fact about being a Canadian. Did you know, William Lyon Mackenzie King (he’s the one on Canada’s $50 bill) also tried to get advice from his dead mother at séances he held in his home. You can still see his crystal ball in the library of Laurier House in Ottawa – now a National Historic Site.
(Photo courtesy of Biblio Archives/Flickr)
3. Being a Canadian: Aircraft Carrier Made From Ice
Patricia Lake, just a 10-minutes outside of Jasper AB, was the site of ‘Operation Habbakuk’ a bizarre top-secret WWII military experiment. The 1943 mission was to build a 1-to-50-scale prototype of an aircraft carrier using ice and sawdust. The site is now marked by a roadside plaque and submerged monument. How’s that for being Canadian?
4. Being Canadian: Our Beavers Built a Dam Visible From Outer Space
Here’s something else to get happy about if you’re a Canadian. First discovered by an environmental researcher using Google Earth in 2007, the dam is located just inside Wood Buffalo National Park, the 2nd largest protected area in the world. The dam stretches 2,790 feet.
5. Being Canadian: Our Cities Have Some of the Freshest Air in the World
Being Canadian, means having fresh air. When the World Health Organization studied air quality between 2003 and 2010, in 1,100 cities in 91 countries, they ranked Whitehorse YK as having the freshest. Also in the top ten: British Columbia’s Nanaimo, Terrace, Nelson, Kitimat and Burns Lake, plus Corner Brook, NL and Fredericton, NB.
(Photo courtesy of Tourism Nova Scotia)
6. Being Canadian: Have a Taste of Home When You Travel
Order a sandwich with Dijon mustard in France or a dressed hot dog in a US ballpark and smile with some national pride: the mustard was likely made with seeds from our Prairies. Canada is the world’s largest exporter of mustard seed, 80% is grown in brilliant yellow fields in Saskatchewan. How’s that for Canadian?
7. Being Canadian: Iceberg Wine
Being a Canadian means having the best places in the world to view icebergs is in the village of Twillingate, NL, and it’s a winery in this community that is now using Iceberg water to make wines: Black Currant Iceberg, Bakeapple Iceberg, etc. For fun you can track icebergs by satellite at Icebergfinder.com
8. Being Canadian: Polar Bears
Being Canadian means dealing with these furry ones. Canada is home to about 15,000 polar bears, and every autumn a few of big white guys wander right into the town of Churchill, MB. Doors are left unlocked so you can duck in if you have an unexpected encounter. Watch the autumn migration on polarbearcam.com
(Photo courtesy of Travel Manitoba/Flickr)
9. Being Canadian: Toe Cocktail
Canadians and toe cocktails? If you make up to the land of the midnight sun drop by the Sourdough Saloon at the Downtown Hotel, in Dawson City, Yukon and for $5 you can try the Sour Toe Cocktail yourself. This bizarre ritual began in 1973 with a miner’s toe that had been amputated in the 1920’s.
(Photo courtesy of Jennoit/Flickr)
10. Being Canadian: World’s Greenest by 2020
In a recent study of 27 major North American cities Vancouver ranked the second greenest, after San Francisco. Now Vancouver is aiming to be No. 1 in the world by 2020. They have a Greenest City Action Plan, Team, Website, and Greenest City Fund of 2 million dollars! Canadians sure are green!
(Photo courtesy of michellerlee/Flickr Creative Commons)
11. Being Canadian: World’s Most Dark Sky Preserves
Missing the stars because of city lights? Not for the Canadians living in Jasper AB. At 11,228km it’s the largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world. It means businesses and residents use shielded lights, etc. to protect nocturnal wildlife habitat and enable night sky viewing. Most are in National Parks, from Cypress Hills and Grasslands National Park SK, to Fundy National Park NB, which will be dark sky compliant by 2013.
(Photo by David Olson, courtesy Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures)
12. Being Canadian: Minted the World’s Coins
Carry coins in Cuba, Yemen, Columbia or Iceland and you could be more in touch with home than you realize. Canada’s Royal Mint has produced coins for more than 60 other countries. And, we are known for being innovative: this year we are producing a ‘glow-in-the-dark’ dinosaur quarter.