Canada is a very large country with a small population. The state of California has more people than all of Canada.
We have several things that make us unique. Most people from other countries do not know a lot about our nation. This is understandable, but it tends to give some Canadians a bit of an inferiority complex.
This article is about five fun and unusual facts concerning Canada that a lot of foreigners would not necessarily know.
It Isn't As Cold Here As Some People Think
If you were to ask someone what first comes to mind when they think about Canada, they would probably say the weather. The other thing they might mention is ice hockey, but my focus here will be on our famous weather.
We have a reputation for having extremely cold winters. This is certainly true in some parts of the country, but it is not the case everywhere. We are a huge country with different climates, depending on where you are. I live at the Pacific Coast and snow and below freezing temperatures are rare in this area.
Thousands of miles away on the Atlantic side, the winters are mild too. They do get snow (often heavy snowfalls) but temperatures are not usually bone chilling. Other areas like Southern Ontario and the Okanagan Valley have winters that are relatively short.
If you were to look at a map of Canada, you would see our largest city Toronto is further south than some American cities. The severe cold occurs mostly in the central part of the country and of course the north.
But one thing that is true is our capital city of Ottawa holds the distinction for being the second coldest capital in the world. I think first prize goes to Moscow. As Canadians we often have to settle for second best, so I guess that will have to do.
Also it is worth noting that Ottawa is the capital and not Toronto. Some people mistakenly think it is the latter. Both cities are located in Ontario and Toronto has the largest population, but it's not the capital.
The cold weather does have its advantages though. In the winter time the Rideau Canal, which you see pictured here, is transformed into the largest skating rink on the planet. The skating length is almost 5 miles long. Some people like to visit Ottawa in the winter just to be able to say they skated there.
Canada Has Six Time Zones
Many people do not realize that there are six time zones in this country. Starting with the Pacific coast, the time zones are Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland.
What makes this odd is the last time zone. Atlantic Canada has its own time zone. But it's peculiar that Newfoundland, which is part of the Atlantic region, is one half hour later. Time zones generally change by an hour, not thirty minutes.
One hour was too big a difference, so a compromise was made. When you watch Canadian TV and they are promoting an upcoming show, they will often mention it will broadcast a half hour later to Newfoundland. I doubt the residents of this province need to be reminded, but they are regardless.
At Least Seven out of Ten Canadians Live Within 100 Miles of the US Border
No matter where someone lives in Canada, chances are good that they are less than a two hour drive from the United States. At one time the percentage was even more, it's not as high as it used to be due to the rapid growth of Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary is more than 100 miles from an American border and Edmonton is to the north.
The Greater Vancouver area, locally called the Lower Mainland, extends right to the Washington State border. The city of Windsor in Ontario shares a border with Detroit.
Only six cities in our country have a population of over one million. Several others have at least half a million.
What is unusual about Canadian money?
Well for starters, we no longer have one dollar bills which you can see pictured here. Quite a few years ago the government decided it would be more efficient to produce coins than paper money. Thus, the first Canadian coin to replace a paper bill was born in the 1980s. It was soon dubbed the loonie.
It was amazing how fast the dollar bills went out of circulation. I wish I had kept one but didn't think of it at the time. I doubt it would be very valuable but would be nice to have as a novelty and to show kids what they looked like.
Not long after the introduction of the loonie the government decided to get rid of two dollar bills. We had those for many years. The coin worth $2 was named a toonie. Both the loonie and toonie are attractive coins and are made to last for a long time.
We still have bills in denominations of $5, $10 and so on, and I doubt that will change. It's surprising how heavy a wallet gets when you are carrying several of those coins.
Our bills are different colors, which make them easy to identify. They are all the same size though, unlike some other currencies.
Canada has hosted the Olympic games three times
Canada first hosted the Olympic games in the summer of 1976. The event took place in Montreal and was marred by massive cost overruns and debt. No Canadian won gold, and to this day we remain the only country who hosted the summer Olympics without winning at least one gold.
Although the Montreal games were not successful, many wanted our nation to have an opportunity to host again. The winter games were believed to be a better fit, due to our ability to be more competitive in many winter sports.
Calgary hosted the winter games in 1988, followed by Vancouver in 2010. Both of these events made money and were much more successful. In 2010 Canada won a record number of gold medals for a host country.
Several years have passed since the last time we had the Olympic games, but many Canadians still love to reminisce about the events that took place in Vancouver and the feeling of pride we had.
Toronto has bid several times without success for the right to host the summer Olympics. I'd love to see Canada host another time, but think the winter games make more sense. They are much less expensive than the summer games and many of the facilities are already built.
So that is my list of five fun and unusual facts about Canada. If you live in another country I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you live in this nation as I do you will undoubtedly be able to relate to these things that make us distinctly Canadian.