In total, the world is now home to over 7 billion people, an immense population which is spread across a grand total of 195 sovereign countries, which come in all forms of different shapes and sizes. Now, as we all know, there are certain countries that are far more influential and powerful in both a military and economic sense than others, and there are also countries that have technically been around for hundreds of years; but whether you are as powerful as the United States, Russia and China, or as old as Greece and Egypt, or are as small as San Marino and Luxembourg, there is always one common thread– that you are an independent nation. Canada is one such nation, and ever since it officially became a nation back in 1867, it has become one of the best places in the entire world to live.
As a country, Canada is the second largest in the world, as it encompasses an area of almost 4 million square miles, which is incredibly large, especially considering that it is home to only 36 million people. Even if you have never been to Canada, there are certain things that people know about it, such as the free health care, the citizens who are considered to be extremely humble and kind, the prominence of the sport of hockey, its association with maple syrup, the Mounties, and its current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. With all that being said though, there are still quite a few things that people do not know about Canada, and the purpose of this article will be to reveal 15 secrets that people may have never known about the country.
15. Thanks To Canada, Basketball Exists
For decades now, basketball has been one of the four major professional sports played in North America, with the NBA being the pinnacle of all the world’s basketball talent; and the sport has given the world amazing athletes like Lebron James, Shaq, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. The athletes who were just mentioned, as well as many other great basketball players, would have likely never gone on to become global sports superstars if it were not for Canada though, as it was in fact a Canadian who actually invented the game. Dr. James Naismith was born in Almonte, Ontario, in 1861, and he was a physical educator and physician who in 1891 created the game of basketball while working in Springfield, Massachusetts for what is now known as the YMCA. Naismith created the game for the purpose of conditioning young athletes during the winter months, and it was originally played using fruit baskets and a ball which was similar to what you would see in soccer.
14. The National Animal
Most of the world’s countries have at least one National Animal, and in the United States, a majority of the population likely knows that their country’s National Animal is the bald eagle, a great bird of prey. Usually, a country’s National Animal appears somewhere on its currency, or on some kind of national documentation, and in Canada’s case, their National Animal is in fact represented on their currency. In total, Canada displays four different animals on its currency, including a beaver on the nickel, a moose on the quarter, a loonie (aquatic bird) on the dollar coin, and a polar bear on the two-dollar coin; and of those animals, it is the beaver that has the honor of representing the entire country. The beaver as we all know is a large rodent that spends its life in the water and on land, where with its teeth it harvests logs to use in the construction and maintenance of its dams. Personally, I would have gone with the polar bear, but I guess the Canadian Politicians at the time had a real liking towards beavers.
13. Hockey Is Not The Official Sport?!
In the previous entry, it was said that most countries have a National Animal, and the same thing can be said about sports too, as many countries around the world have a National Sport as well, with baseball, basketball, and cricket being the most common ones. The United States and its citizens, are known for their love of football, but surprisingly, baseball serves as their National Sport; and in regards to Canada, its National Sport is also not the one that it is most known for. Hockey is the most important sport in Canada, as most children in the country play it at least once in their lives, and fans of the sport follow it with a religious ferocity, but in 1994, the Canadian government actually did not give hockey the honor of being the country’s sole National Sport. The government went on to name hockey the country’s National Winter Sport, while lacrosse was named the National Summer Sport, but seeing as lacrosse is basically a different form of hockey, the Canadian government can be partially forgiven for their mistake.
12. A Portion Of Mars Is Dedicated To Canada
Parts of Canada are known for very specific things, like the Province of Quebec having a mainly french-speaking population, Alberta being rich in oil, and Newfoundland and Labrador for having a very vibrant fishing economy. Newfoundland though, has a lot more going for it other than fish, as the Province is also home to the town of Gander, which is highly regarded internationally for its contributions to both aviation and aerospace technologies. To show just how highly regarded the town is, the International Astronomical Union in 1991, decided to officially name a crater on Mars after it. The Gander Crater can be found on the southern part of the red planet, and it measures just over 23.6 miles in diameter. It is true that there are places and landmarks all over the world that are given their names in dedication to someone, or something, but it is a real rarity for a small town on Earth to be honored in such a way that its name is now shared on an inter-planetary level.
11. Almost A Province Called Buffalo
As a whole, Canada is made up of ten Provinces and three Territories, but that was not always the case, as it actually took many years for the country’s current overlay to come into being, and as far as Alberta and Saskatchewan are concerned, they were almost a single, large Province with a very different name. When you hear the name Buffalo, you can associate it with the animal, or the city located in the State of New York, but it was almost also the name of said unrealized Province. In the early 1900s, the first Premier (Canada’s version of a Governor) of the Northwest Territories, Sir Frederick Haultain, attempted to rename a section of the territory under his jurisdiction the Province of Buffalo, after the animal which called the territory home. The Prime Minister at the time ultimately disliked the idea, and in 1905, he decided to essentially split the Northwest Territories into two, with the southern portion being split into what is now Alberta and Saskatchewan.
10. A National Park Bigger Than Some Countries
There are locations in many countries around the world that are designated National Landmarks or National Parks, and the reason behind this is to make sure that certain landscapes and wildlife are able to remain undisturbed by human activity. In the United States, Yellowstone is likely the best known National Park, as well as one of the country’s biggest, but Canada, with its vast forest areas, has several of its own National Parks, including Wood Buffalo National Park, which is larger than multiple countries. This Park, which is also Canada’s biggest, was established in 1922, and it helps to protect the largest herd of wood bison, and the only known nesting place left for the whooping crane. In total, the Park covers an area of 17,300 square miles, which is more than triple the size of countries like Malta, Cyprus and Luxembourg; and it is also larger than some more well known countries like Switzerland, which covers an area of 15,940 square feet.
9. Interesting Town Names
There are instances when people see the name of a business, landmark, or location and wonder how could someone have named something like that, and the main reason why they would think that is because the name is seen as inappropriate in either a funny, disgusting, or insulting way. In Canada, there has always been jokes made about Saskatchewan’s capital city of Regina, because of how similar the name is to a certain part of the female anatomy; but as it turns out, Canada has an island which has an even funnier name, because it is spelled and pronounced the exact same way as an actual sex toy. Included as part of Newfoundland and Labrador, is the small island community of D!ldo, which was established in the 1800s to take advantage of the area’s marine resources. As it turns out though, Canada also has a very poorly named small town in Ontario called Swastika, which is amazing in all the wrong ways considering it shares the same name with the Nazi’s main symbol.
8. Overpasses For Animals
Many people like animals, whether they are domesticated or live out in the wild, and it is because of our fondness of them that we have gone to great extents to help and preserve the lives of many animal species around the world. Canada has put a lot of money into protecting the lives of animals, especially those who live in the wilderness, as the country has built multiple structures to help lower the amount of animals killed by vehicles on highways bordered by wooded and forested areas. As of 2014, Canada has successfully constructed 38 overpasses and six underpasses strictly for the use of animals such as moose, bears, wolves, deer and cougars, with the largest of these special road systems connecting between Alberta and British Columbia. This endeavor has cost the Canadian taxpayers millions of dollars since the first overpass was completed in Ontario in 2012, but seeing as it has indeed caused fewer fatal car accidents involving animals on highways, it has been money well spent so far considering the other unnecessary things the government could have spent the money on.
7. Responsible For Color Of USA Currency
Whenever you go to visit another country, you usually need to convert your money into the currency used by that country in order to purchase things more effectively, and for anyone choosing to visit Canada, it would be beneficial to use the Canadian dollar. For anyone who has visited Canada, they can attest to the fact that the country’s currency comes in various colors, including blue, purple, green, red and brown; but the ink used to create Canada’s currency is also what gives the bills in the United States their green color. What most people do not know, is the fact that the green ink used to make US money was invented in Montreal in 1857, by Thomas Sterry Hunt, who was a geologist, a chemist and a professor at the world renowned McGill University. From now on, whenever you take a look at the greenbacks in your pocket/wallet, remember that they would not be called greenbacks if it were not for Canada.
6. Iceberg Harvesting
This entry marks Newfoundland’s third appearance on the list, but this time, it has nothing to do with outer space or amusing town names; in fact, this entry revolves around the province’s extensive marine-based economy. It is true that Newfoundland is primarily known for its vibrant fishing industry, but what many may not know is that some of the people in Newfoundland actually harvest icebergs for a living. There is actually an area just off the province’s northern and eastern coasts known as Iceberg Alley, which is a stretch of water that is home to a multitude of large and multi-shaped icebergs, some of which have been floating around for over 10,000 years. These icebergs are harvested by having rather large chunks of ice removed from the main body, and the entrepreneurs who pay for this harvesting make money off of it by using the harvested ice to make products such as vodka, wine, beer and even some products used for skin care.
5. Secret Underground Laboratory
A common thread within spy movies is the existence of a secret laboratory located either above ground or under it, but the truth is that secret laboratories are not just a thing of fiction, seeing as they actually do exist. There are several secret labs worldwide which are in fact located underground, and although some do in fact deal with dangerous military technologies and biohazardous materials, there are still some underground facilities that focus entirely on scientific advancement. Canada possesses its own secret underground lab in Sudbury, Ontario, a lab which conducts its experiments 6,200ft below the Earth’s surface, making it the second deepest lab in the world; and it is located so deep in order to avoid any kind of interference generated by solar radiation and outdoor environmental factors. This facility goes by the name SNOLAB, and it is known for its work in physics regarding neutrinos and dark matter, making Canada one of the world’s leading countries regarding this scientific field. Now, you may wonder how a lab can be considered a secret if its existence is public knowledge, but the thing is, all the research that does go on down there is in fact secret, because if that were to be made public, anyone could just steal and duplicate it to increase their own notoriety.
4. Serves As Santa Claus
Hopefully, most you who are reading this have already come to the realization that Santa Claus does not actually exist, and for those who were still unaware of it before today, sorry for ruining a big part of your Christmas cheer. Although most adults understand that Santa is not real, there are still a lot of young children around the world who believe he, his reindeer, and his workshop full of elves, all exist up in the North Pole. The North Pole does really exist though, and kids surprisingly still send letters to Santa, letters that get responded to despite the man they are addressed to not being real. This is where Canada and the good natured Canadians come in, as the post office every holiday season, brings in volunteers who answer these letters which can come in up to 30 different languages, including braille. There are only two rules though that the Canadian Post Office has regarding the letters, that there be no cookies sent with the letter, and that the postal/zip code must be HOH OHO.
3. The World’s First UFO Landing Pad
Mankind has been partly obsessed with extraterrestrial life for decades, it is the main reason why there are so many movies and television shows that revolve around our interactions with alien beings and civilizations. Granted, most of mankind’s fictional encounters with aliens focuses around war and our planet being invaded by them, something that could actually happen if we were ever visited by an advanced interstellar race. Many people though, choose to believe that if aliens do ever visit Earth, that they will be of the peaceful and benevolent variety, which is why there are some countries who already have landing pads built to welcome our alien visitors. Canada is one of these countries, and in 1967 it became the first country in the world to build a UFO landing pad, when they built one in the town of St. Paul, Alberta, during the country’s centennial celebrations. At the time, the community seemed to really like the landing pad, seeing as they had no problem with the land being allocated for the project, and because businesses did not mind supplying the materials; and even the country’s Defense Minister flew in to officially unveil it.
2. Annual Bathtub Race
For a long time, mankind has been interested in proving who is in fact the best, and usually this sort of thing is proven through some sort of competition, with the most common form of competition being a race. The rules of a race are pretty simple, be faster than everyone else, pass through as many designated checkpoints as needed, and be the first to cross the finish line; but even with these simplicities, there are still some very creative and sometimes even weird races that take place. Ever since 1967, Canada has been home to the annual Bathtub race, which takes place on Vancouver Island, and in the inaugural event, there were almost 200 competitors, of which only 48 actually finished. The race has changed over its nearly 50 year history, as it is now a 90-minute affair that has the competitors racing in “high-performance” bathtubs, and it is now a week long celebration which includes a marine festival and a bathtub parade.
1. The USA Invaded Canada Twice
Countries and civilizations have invaded each other for thousands of years, and the reason behind such military incursions, has primarily been for expansion or to take other people’s resources. As many people know, the United States and Canada are the closest of allies, which is unsurprising seeing as the two countries are literally neighbors, but the relationship between the two nations has not always been a peaceful one. In its history, Canada has been invaded by its southern neighbors twice, with the first coming in 1775 during the Revolutionary War, when the Continental Army invaded Quebec. The purpose behind this invasion was to try and get the support of Quebec’s french-speaking population (who were now a part of the British Empire) to join the U.S. in the fight against the English, but the British defenders were able to permanently repel the invasion in December. The second invasion came during the War of 1812 when the U.S. attempted to take the Canadian territories away from the British, an invasion which was again successfully repelled and included Canadian soldiers burning down the White House. It is a good thing both nations have no hard feelings regarding these military clashes.