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Canada … You Don’t Look a Day Over 149

Canada 150 via Flikr [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

July 1, 2017, marks the 150th anniversary (the sesquicentennial) of the Canadian Confederation.  On this date, the three British colonies of the Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick united to form the Dominion of Canada under the British North America Act of 1867.  What is now ten provinces and three territories sprang from these original four.

In celebration of her sesquicentennial, here are 13 interesting and fun facts about Canada.

  1. Canada’s name means “village” originating from the Iroquoian word, “kanata.” When the French explorer, Jacques Cartier, met the Iroquois chief, Donnacona, he inquired the name of the land. Whether Cartier truly understood Donnacona’s response or not, the country’s name has remained since the 16th century.
  2. While technically not a confederation, the use of the term Confederation became the go-to descriptor for Canada’s union in the 19th century. Canada is actually a federation because of its central government and partially self-governing provinces.

    National Flag of Canada via Wikimedia Commons [Created by E Pluribus Anthony]

  3. The iconic Canadian national flag, unofficially the Maple Leaf, did not become official until February 1965. That is almost 100 years after the formation of the Confederation! Until then, Canada had used about 13 different flag designs.
  4. Canada is huge in terms of area (9.9 million square km/3.8 million square mi).  It is the second largest country in the world.  Only Russia is larger.
  5. There are over 36 million people who call Canada home. Almost 21% of the Canadian population is foreign born.  Canadians claim over 200 languages, including 60 indigenous, but English and French are Canada’s official languages.  Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world after Paris.
  6. Canada’s First Nations number 1.8 million people and 634 tribal governments and bands. Canoes, hockey, corn, snowshoes, chewing gum and cough syrup are just some of their contributions to Canada and the world.
  7. Canada has 20 percent (one-fifth) of the freshwater in the world. It has more lakes than the rest of the world’s lakes combined. No other country’s surface area is covered by as much water as is Canada’s – almost 9%.
  8. Record holder: Canada has the largest polar bear population, produces the most maple syrup and has the most doughnut shops per capita. It also claims the most educated society with over half its residents having college degrees.
  9. While polar bears are populous in Canada, they are not the national animal. That would be the North American Beaver.
  10. Canada could have become part of the United States if it had wanted. According to Article XI of Articles of Confederation, the first constitution of the United States, Canada would have been 

    Provinces of Canada, July 1867-July 1870 via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY-SA 3.0]

    automatically accepted into the union—no questions asked. Any other colony requesting admission would have required nine states to agree.
  11. Ice hockey is the most popular sport in Canada. It was invented by the Mohawks who called it “aukie.” What would surprise many is one of America’s most popular sports, basketball, was invented by a Canadian.  In an effort to keep his students active on rainy days, Dr. James Naismith created the game in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
  12. Canada vs. America: The United States invaded Canada twice – first during the American Revolutionary War in 1775, second during the War of 1812. The United States lost both times.
  13. Canadians are not Americans, and they don’t end every sentence with ‘eh.  The debate over Canadian identity has been ongoing since before Confederation.

Canada’s sesquicentennial is a year-long celebration.  For students in Canada and those in the United States who would like to learn more about their northern neighbor, eLibrary offers a multitude of resources.  Check out Research Topics on Canada’s First Nations, Canadian provinces and territories, Canadian history and Canadian identity.  Search Canadian publications to find provincial newspapers, magazines and reference works such as the Toronto Star, Canadian Geographic, and the Canadian Encyclopedia plus many others.  Canada’s official Canada 150 website offers the scoop on all the celebrations commemorating Canada’s 150th birthday.  For more facts about Canada, the CBC’s Amanda Parris shares 150 of them in this fun video.

To our Canadian friends:  How you are celebrating Canada’s 150th?  Tweet us at #ProQuest.

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