Canada: Did You Know?
Did you Know?
Canada is the world’s second largest country by area but its population (estimated at 34.5m in 2013), slightly less than the state of California, is small by comparison. Canada’s largest cities are Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary. Even with its small population though, Canada plays a large role in the world’s economy and is one of the largest trading partners of the United States.
The first people to live in Canada were the Inuit and First Nation Peoples. The first Europeans to reach the country were likely the Vikings and it is believed that Norse explorer Leif Eriksson led them to the coast of Labrador or Nova Scotia in 1000 C.E. European settlement did not begin in earnest until the 1500s. The French began to settle there in 1541 but an official settlement was not established until 1604. The Seven Years War, in which Britain sought to gain more control of Canada, then began in 1756. That war ended in 1763 and Britain was given full control of Canada with the Treaty of Paris.
Nearly 90% of Canadians live within 99 miles of the U.S. border (because of harsh weather and the expense of building on permafrost in the north).
The Trans-Canada Highway is the longest national highway in the world at 4,725 miles (7,604 km).
English (58.8%) and French (21.6%) are the two official languages of Canada, with other spoken languages making up 19.6%.
Canada boasts a wealth of natural resources, including iron ore, nickel, zinc, copper, gold, lead, rare earth elements, molybdenum, potash, diamonds, silver, fish, timber, wildlife, coal, petroleum, natural gas and hydropower.
Canada’s exports include motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, aircraft, telecommunications equipment; chemicals, plastics, fertilizers; wood pulp, timber, crude petroleum, natural gas, electricity and aluminium.
The first Prime Minister of Canada was John A McDonald, a Scot, born on January 11th, 1815 in Glasgow, Scotland. After emigrating to Ontario, McDonald subsequently served as the Canadian Confederation’s first Prime minister from July 1st 1867 to November 5th 1873, and from October 17th 1878 to his death in office on June 6th 1891. He is widely regarded as the father of the nation.
Canada is one of the world’s richest nations, boasting an impressively high income per capita of US$36,138 in 2012. It is also a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Group of Eight (G8).
House prices in Canada
A hefty 69% of Canadians own their own homes.
The national average house price for Canada, as of November 2013 is $391,820 (£226,715)
City averages are listed below:
- Vancouver $775,542 (£448,706)
- Toronto $539,058 (£311,824)
- Montreal $333,610 (£192,980)
- Ottawa $363,240 (£210,112)
- Quebec City $273,436 (£158,166)
- Calgary $436,216 (£252,315)
- Edmonton $332,461 (£192,302)
Source: Canada Real Estate Association, November 2013: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/130911/dq130911b-eng.htm
Education in Canada
Free school education is available to all Canadians from the ages of six to eighteen, and more than 90% of Canadian students attend state-funded schools. Canadian students can also choose to attend either charter or private schools, though this represents fewer than 10% of students. The majority of these schools receive some funding from the government, depending on how they are classified.
Landscape and climate
Canada consistently comes near the top in the United Nation’s survey of the best places in the world to live, scoring high marks for its access to education, health care system, and low crime rate. The landscape is beautiful and incredibly diverse, encompassing mountains, glaciers, prairies and Arctic tundra. At almost 3.9 million square miles, Canada is the world’s second largest country, with a population of just 34.5 million people. If you were to drive east to west, from Halifax in Nova Scotia to Vancouver in British Columbia, it would take you seven days. Even by plane, that’s a seven hour trip.
Canada is made up of five main regions. The Atlantic region – the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador – relies heavily on fishing, farming, forestry, tourism and mining.
The most populated region of the country is Central Canada, with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Over three-quarters of all Canadian manufactured goods are made here.
The provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are in the Prairies, where the terrain is flat and fertile and rich in energy resources. Western Alberta is where the Prairies end and the famous Rocky Mountains begin.
On the West Coast, the province of British Columbia is famous for its mountain ranges and forests. The economy here relies on lumber, fishing, fruit farming and tourism.
The most sparsely populated region is the North and the territories of the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, which make up over one-third of Canada’s land mass. They are rich in oil, natural gas, gold, lead and zinc.
If you like talking about the weather, Canada is the place for you; it’s always a topic for conversation. Most people think of Canada as being cold, and it does get down to -25C in some places on a cold winter day, but this is balanced by hot summer temperatures of up to around the 30C mark. Seasonal change is dramatic too, with autumn leaves being particularly spectacular and spring a real affirmation of new life and promise of days to come.
Canadian Lifestyle & Culture
Summer is usually warm and sunny, and can get very hot in some areas. It’s a good time to visit historic cities and places of interest and to catch the many outdoor music and theatre events, from jazz to Shakespeare. In June, Toronto hosts Caribana, a festival of ethnic music, dance and food. The Calgary Stampede in July is the place to see cowboys, rodeos, bull riding and chuck wagon races. In late summer, Vancouver has the Symphony of Fire, four nights of spectacular fireworks set to music.
Canadians love the great outdoors and many families use the summer to go kayaking, hiking, and cycling. Every province has its “wilderness walks”, such as the Trans Canada Trail, the longest recreational trail in the world, which links Newfoundland in the east with Nunavut in the north.
In winter you can take part in sports like downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, skating, ice hockey, snowboarding and curling. The Quebec City Winter Carnival, at the end of February, has parades, ice sculptures, snow slides, music and dance. Canadian towns and cities are well organised for low temperatures with indoor malls and many cultural attractions. Canadians like their creature comforts and this is reflected in the many excellent restaurants found across the country, from standard North American fare to world-class gourmet delights that reflect the multi-culturalism of the country. Fortunately, there’s plenty to do to work off all that good living!