It’s not quite Canada Day yet, but there is a lot to know about our fantastic country. To that end, I present to you a quirky collection of facts (with the help of Reader’s Digest) for your reading pleasure.
Alberta has a National Park Larger than Switzerland: Wood Buffalo National Park straddles the border of Northern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories. It was created in 1922 to protect the world’s largest herd of roaming Wood Bison, and the park is also home to the last known nesting site of whooping cranes.
McGill put the Green in Greenbacks: We’ve taken a lot of flak from our Southern neighbour for our Monopoly-coloured Canadian currency, but what most don’t know is the green ink used for American money was invented at McGill University in Montreal by Thomas Sterry Hunt in 1857.
We Harvest Icebergs in Labrador and Newfoundland: Every spring, massive islands of ice broken off glaciers in Greenland flow through ‘Iceberg Alley’, past the coast of Labrador and Newfoundland. Entrepreneurs are harvesting chunks of these cool marvels for some pretty unique products, including wine, vodka, beer, and even skincare products.
We Built a UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta: One of Canada’s most unique Centennial projects in 1967 was the building of the world’s first UFO Landing Pad in St. Paul, Alberta. The town provided the land, and local businesses provided building supplies and labour for the raised cement pad. Making things even stranger? Paul Hellyer, then Minister of National Defense, flew in (by helicopter, not spaceship) to officially open it.
Most of the World’s Cesium is in a Lake in Manitoba: The best-known use of this element is in Cesium-based atomic clocks – which are so accurate they would only be off by 2 seconds over a 65 million year lifespan. The world’s richest deposit of cesium (roughly two-thirds of it) is at Bernic Lake, Manitoba.
- You Can See More Snakes in Winnipeg than Anywhere Else: Just 130-km north of Winnipeg is the Narcisse Snake Dens conversation area, where each spring tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes slither out for a few weeks from mid-April to early May. Fortunately, there are viewing platforms set up so you can watch them from afar.
Vancouver Island is Home to an Annual Bathtub Race: It’s a crazy competition that started as Nanaimo’s Centennial event in 1967. The first year close to 200 ‘tubbers’ raced a 36-mile course in converted bathtubs – 48 finished. Today, the high-performance “bathtubs” cover the 90-minute course as part of the weekend-long Nanaimo Marine Festival, which includes a Bathtub Parade.
Peterborough, Ontario is the Canoe Capital of the World: You can learn some more about canoeing at the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, home to the world’s largest collection of canoes and kayaks. National Paddling Day, which was originally celebrated on June 26th, has now evolved into National Paddling Week.