13 Things You Didn’t Know About Canada Day

Canada is looking pretty good for 150! But how well do you know our country? Regardless of your knowledge, here are 13 things you might not know.

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Ice cold beer being opened
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1. We Like Beer

Canada Day and a cold one go together like Bob and Doug McKenzie. In British Columbia, residents guzzle 1.2 million litres of beer over the country’s birthday long weekend—and that’s just from government-run liquor stores.

Check out An Expert’s Guide to the 10 Best Beer Cities in the World.

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Moving day
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2. It Makes the Perfect Moving Day

As the rest of Canada celebrates with face painting and fireworks, Quebec opts for a mass exodus of apartments. In keeping with a decades-old tradition, most leases in La Belle Province expire July 1. In 2012, 80,000 Quebecers—and an unknown number of fridges—took part.

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Canadian flag
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3. The Test is Tough

In 2010, Canada toughened up its citizenship test with more detailed questions and a higher pass mark. As a result, failure rates jumped from between four and eight per cent to 30. It’s no wonder: Do you know what year the name “Canada” first began appearing on maps? (It’s 1547.)

These surprising facts will make you look at Canada in a whole new way.

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Canada Day face paint
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4. We’re Funny

During an interview on Canadian humour, writer Margaret Atwood recounts this gem: “What does a Canadian girl say when you ask her if she’d like some sex? She says, ‘Only if you’re having some yourself.'”

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Free hugs sign
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5. … And Polite

All that politeness may be going to our heads: 86 per cent of Canadians believe they live in the best country in the world.

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The Beatles magazine
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6. We Can Be Crafty, Too

To help them design the country’s official flag, parliamentarians asked Canadians in 1963 to draft suggestions. Of the 3,541 patriots who responded, nearly 400 thought a beaver should be front and centre, while one trippy submission depicted the disembodied heads of the four Beatles encircling a fleur-de-lys.

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Canadian beaver
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7. Beavers Aren’t as Sweet as They Look

Think Canada’s national animal is cute and cuddly? Beavers have been known to attack humans and, on some occasions, kill them. (A Belarusian angler died in April at the teeth of one of the rodents.)

Here are the 10 Best Places for Nature Watching in Canada.

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Canada-US rivalry
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8. We’re a Little Competitive

No wonder Americans joke that Canadians have an inferiority complex—even the composer of our national anthem, Calixa Lavallée, decamped to the United States seeking professional success.

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Georgia Strait, B.C.
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9. We’re a Little Odd, Too

To celebrate Canada’s big 100, residents of Nanaimo, B.C., transformed bathtubs into motorboats and raced 58 kilometres across the Georgia Strait to Vancouver. The bathtub races are now an annual event.

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Canada Day fireworks
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10. We Like a Good Party

You’re more likely to fête Canada’s birthday if you’re among the seven million citizens whose mother tongue isn’t French or English. (There are 200 other languages to choose from.)

Here are 10 French Phrases Everyone in the World Should Know.

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Parliament Hill in Ottawa
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11. We’ve Changed Our Minds

Canadians officially referred to July 1 as Dominion Day until 1982, when 13 sleepy Members of Parliament voted in the name change at 4 p.m. on a Friday, before declaring the rest of the afternoon a holiday and taking off.

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National War Memorial in Ottawa
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12. We’ll Take a Risk

On Canada Day 2006, three revellers relieved themselves on the National War Memorial. Someone snapped a photo, which caused national outrage when it was published in the papers. (One of the men was charged; after 50 hours of community service, a $200 donation and a public letter of apology, he got a reprieve from the court.)

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Tim Hortons
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13. Our Delicacies Can Be Found Around the World

If you’re keen to celebrate your homeland’s holiday but you’re one of our 2.8-million-strong diaspora, pick up some poutine at the Rocky Mountain Tavern in Seoul, Korea, a fluffy Beaver Tail in Saudi Arabia or a box of Timbits from one of the 19 Tim Hortons in the United Arab Emirates.

Here are 10 truly Canadian foods and the best places to try them.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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