Canada Facts You Want To Know
Fascinating, wired and interesting
Some call it a culture shock, others have been in Canada before and know what to expect. Most agree that Canada is different from the rest of the world. Study my list of Canada facts before you come here and you will adjust quickly and be spared from too big surprises.
How Canada Got Its Name
Canada means “village” and comes from the Iroquois word “Kanata.” It has been in use since the earliest European settlement in Canada.
According to the story, when Jacques Cartier arrived in 1535 he talked to two native youth who told him about the route to Kanata. They were talking about the nearby settlement of Stadacona, but Cartier thought that they were referring to the entire area.
Geographic Canada Facts
- Canada is the second largest country in the world, behind Russia.
- Canada has ten provinces and three territories.
- Ottawa is the Capital of Canada
- 81 % of the Canadian population lives in cities (based on 2013)
- Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa have a population of over 1 million.
- Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world.
- Canada has six time zones.
- The Trans-Canada Highway is over 7,604 km in length and is the longest highway in the world.
- Montreal is the world’s second-largest French-speaking city after Paris.
- Almost half of Canada’s population were born in other countries.
- Canada has the fourth lowest population density in the world with three people per square km.
- Canada has more lakes than any other country in the world.
- Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories are two of the world largest lakes.
- The Athabasca Sand Dunes in the Athabasca Provincial Park of northwest Saskatchewan are the most northerly sand dunes in the world.
- The largest non-polar ice field in the world can be found in the St. Elias Mountains, Yukon.
- Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada’s highest mountain at 5959
- Wasaga beach in Ontario is the longest freshwater beach in the world.
- Alert, in the Nunavut Territory, is the northernmost settlement in the world, 817 km from the North Pole.
- The coldest temperature ever recorded in Canada was -63C on February 3, 1957, in Snag, Yukon.
- The border between Canada and the United States is officially known as the International Boundary and is the world’s longest unprotected border.
- Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron, Ontario is the largest freshwater lake island in the world.
- Three of Canada’s islands make the top ten for size in the world – Baffin, Ellesmere, and Victoria.
The Polite Canadians
Saying “please” and “thank you” is important and part of the Canadian culture. You will notice right away how friendly we all are. Canadians don’t always mean what they say. This has to do with just being nice and not having to say NO. Therefore you have to be able to read between the words. Don’t be surprised, if a Canadian tells you to meet up somewhere and he doesn’t show up or cancels at the last minute.
The word “sorry” is used an awful lot. It’s not only used to apologize for your actions, it’s also used when you bump into someone, sneeze, interrupt, or for having a different opinion. It’s just a word being used, without much meaning.
More Facts About Canadians
- The population in Canada in 2017 was approximate 36.5 million
- Canadians have invented Kerosene, insulin, the IMAX film system, the snowmobile, the electric cooking range and much more.
- Canada produces about 30 million tons of municipal solid waste annually. This is about 1.8 kg per day per person
- About 81 % of the population lives in cities.
- About 90 % of the population is concentrated within 160 km of the Canada/USA border.
Canadian Food Facts
- A Canadian eats an average of 190 eggs per year (I wish this number would mean organic eggs).
- Canadians drink more fruit juice than anywhere else.
- typically Canadian food includes bacon, poutine, maple syrup, pancakes, and most of all, Tim-bits (small donuts from Tim Horton’s).
- Campfire food includes chili dogs, chicken cooked on top of a beer can, salmon on a cedar slab, smores, bannock, cornbread.
- Cheddar is the most popular cheese in Canada. According to one study, on average Canadians consume over 23 pounds of Cheddar per person annually. Aged cheddar is the only one not coloured orange.
- Find out more about Canadian Country Food and Country Cooking Recipes.
Tim Horton’s is a National Symbol
Tim Horton’s is an incredible popular coffee and doughnut chain. There is a Tim Horton’s on every corner in any Canadian city and you also find a “Timmy” in every larger town.
Tim Horton, a National Hockey League legend, opened the first store in Hamilton, Ontario in 1964, when a coffee and a donut cost 10 cents each. Tim Horton’s has developed into a gigantic franchise.
You still can buy the Dutchie and Apple Fritter, two of the original donuts offered at the time. Also, try the Timbits, get a deal with a box of twenty!
Maple Syrup and Birch Syrup
Is there anything more Canadian than maple syrup? The skill of collecting and processing the sweet sap of the sugar maple was already known by the native people of eastern North America, long before the arrival of European settlers.
Make sure you try pure maple syrup with your pancakes instead of the corn syrup which is often used as a cheap replacement.
In northern British Columbia you will also find Birch Syrup, which is even more delicious.
Macaroni And Cheese (KD)
There is no other packaged food in Canada better known then our orange flavoured Kraft Dinner. We even have a nickname for the favourite pasta and cheese dish; every Canadian child and teenager knows KD. KD is also my son Kevin’s initials…how funny is that!
Kraft Macaroni and cheese is somewhat of a Canadian national dish under children and young adults.
It comes in a blue package including two pouches, one with the macaroni and one with the cheese mix. If you try it, make sure you buy the original!
We Eat French Fries Covered With Gravy
ll Canadians know that the real, authentic poutine comes from the province of Quebec. However, you can get different versions of it all across the country. It is a dish made up of French fries, fresh cheese curds, and brown gravy. Yum!
Canadian Beer, Wine, And Drinking Facts
- The beer named after Canada is called Molson Canadian. Molson Coors Canada is the oldest brewery in North America.
- The Moosehead Brewery in Saint John, New Brunswick turns out 1,642 bottles of beer per minute.
- Canada is famous for its ice wine, made from pressed frozen grapes. It’s usually used as a dessert wine.
- Some of the country’s word famous wines are from British Columbia wine is also produced in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.
Canadians are puzzled by the lukewarm water and drinks presented to them in Europe. Europeans, on the other hand, can’t figure out why drinks in Canada are served full of ice, and the glasses are empty after a few sips.
So, if you want to act like a tourist, ask for drinks with No Ice.
Free Drink Refills
Maybe we do it because of the ice? In lots of restaurants, you will be presented with a second cup of soda and unlimited free refills of coffee.
Having Your Glass Or Coffee Cup Taken Away When Empty
Actually, to me it makes sense. Europeans, on the other hand, can’t comprehend this. You are in a restaurant and the waiter takes your empty glass or coffee cup away when it’s empty. Honestly, you don’t have to leave the restaurant when your glass or cup is gone. But, if the restaurant is busy and people are waiting for a seat, you might as well move on.
In Canada, the legal drinking age is 19, or 18 in some provinces and territories. Canada is very conservative regarding drinking laws. You are not allowed to bring alcohol out on the streets and drink in public. If you attend a rodeo or town festival, there will be a confined area for drinking and you will need two picture I.D. to get in. Most drinking is done at home or in bars, or on a campfire out in the wilderness.
Watch out when camping in provincial parks. Learn from the Canadians and pour your drink into a travel coffee mug, when drinking outside.
More Wired Canada Facts
The Measuring System
Not only visitors to Canada get confused about our measuring system, we are confused as well. Canada is officially under the metric system, but never got fully converted.
Speed limits are in km/h. Road distances are in m or km. The temperature is given in degrees Celsius. Heights and weights are still in imperial units. For lumber and building material the imperial system is still used as well.
In many stores produce are still sold by the (English) pound. This might have something to do with our high food prices. The price for a lb doesn’t seem too bad, but once you see the kg price you might be shocked. In my opinion, it’s done to trick the consumers!
The fact is, we are a half-converted country that can flip-flop between metric and imperial measurements four times in the same sentence.
We Don’t Use Umbrellas, We Wear hoodies
I always have to smile when guests from Europe arrive with an umbrella in their luggage. We don’t use umbrellas where I live. It might be a cultural quirk; we are just too cool for umbrellas.
The only time I remember having used an umbrella was over a campfire in the pouring rain to keep the fire from going out.
Most of us think that umbrellas are stupid and ugly and we don’t need to use them. We Canadians just wear a hoodie and pull it over our head. We might be soaked by the time we get to the car, but there is no freakin way that we will be caught in public using an umbrella.
So, leave your umbrella at home and pack your cortex gear instead.
Supermarkets Will Make You Speechless
Our average Canadian supermarkets are huge and you might be bewildered by the assortment of choices you witness. There’s an entire aisle of breakfast cereal, another aisle for soft drinks, a dozen brands of yoghurt, and how many flavors of chips?
Large stores are open till late at night and on weekends.
Hunting And Guns
Lots of Canadians hunt, and having a few rifles in the house is the norm. Since hunting is a tradition of First Nation people, guns are generally treated like tools, rather than toys. Guns don’t have to be registered, but we have to do a course to be certified to buy rifles and ammunition.
Two Weeks Of Vacation
Canada ranks third last among economically advanced countries in the amount of paid vacation time, according to a U.S. study. For the most part, employees get ten vacation days annually. Only Japan ranks behind us and the United States, taking the last place.
No wonder many of us are trying to be self-employed. So before you Europeans complain again about your work hours please think about us Canadians.
Health System in Canada
Our health system sucks big time! Canada has a severe shortage of doctors. I might be in terrible pain, but having to wait a few months for an MRI and two weeks to see my physician is the norm.
If you have to go to Emergency at the hospital, you will be there for hours waiting your turn, no matter in how much pain you are. I speak from experience when I arrived with a broken vertebra a couple of years ago.
Make sure you sign-up for a travel insurance before coming to Canada. This way, you won’t have to pay out any cash if you need to see a Doctor.
As far as countries go, Canada is pretty much the coldest, together with Russia. More Canadians die each year from exposure to extremely cold temperatures than from other natural events, according to Statistics Canada.
Come to British Columbia in summer and you will experience the extreme heat. Forest fires are common during the summer season and often we have campfire restrictions. Check out Canadian Climate for more information.
Santa Claus is Canadian
Santa’s home at the North Pole lies in a disputed area between a few country claiming the North Pole. But who cares, Santa Claus is Canadian, according to the immigration minister.
Every year, Canada’s post office receives millions of letters addressed to “Santa Claus, North Pole” and Santa responds to every one of them. How cool is that!
Animals Are Wild
While exploring Canada’s wilderness there is a big chance that you will come across wild animals. We have black bears, grizzly bears, polar bears, elk, moose, cougars, bobcats and much more.
Wild animals are beautiful and incredible to see, but they are also extremely dangerous! Act responsibly when you see a wild animal and stay in the car when you come across one while driving. Before hiking in the wilderness, learn about wildlife safety and what to do if you encounter a wild animal.
Find out about other Wilderness Dangers in Canada.
Canada Has A Polar Bear Prison
Churchill, a remote town in the far north of Manitoba has the world’s only polar bear prison. Churchill is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World and it is best known for the polar bears that inhabit the area in the fall.
Polar bear prison is a place for the polar bears that come too close to the town and become a threat to residents. It is also a fact, that the locals in Churchill leave cars and houses unlocked in case people are passing by and need a place to retreat from the polar bears.
Now with all this information, you are ready to hit the road and explore Canada and meet the locals.
What is the time in Canada? This depends on where you are in Canada. On that page you can find clocks showing the current time for all major Canadian cities, what time zone they are located in, and when daylight saving starts and ends.
And now, with all your knowledge about Canada Facts, you are ready to hit the road, explore Canada and meet the locals.
- Facts about Travel in Canada
- Facts about Backcountry Canada
- Why moving to Canada might be a bad idea