Interesting Facts About Canada

canadian flagSince I’m in Canada this week, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at America’s northern neighbor. There’s a bit of sibling rivalry between these two countries. Canadians love to talk about how unlike America they are, and Americans love to point out how much Canada is like us and tease how it’s really our 51st state. But, really, we love each other. The countries share a huge border, do a lot of economic trade, and share a lot of culture—movies, music, theater, and sports. We’re connected even if we often try to pretend we aren’t. I often joke to my Canadian friends about how they’re “little America,” but I really love Canada. It’s a beautiful, nice, and fun country. Here are some interesting facts about this must-see but rarely visited country:

The 5,525 miles, including 1,538 miles between Canada and Alaska, between Canada and the United States is the world’s longest border.

Canada did not have a national flag until February 15, 1965, when its maple leaf flag was adopted by parliament.

At 3,855,103 square miles, Canada is the second largest country in the world, behind Russia.

Alert, in Nunavut territory, is the northernmost settlement in the world.

The modern game of ice hockey was developed in Canada with the rules first published in the Montreal Gazette in 1877.

The capital city, Ottawa (which is one of my favorites), was originally named Bytown and was the deadliest city in North America because of the violent nature of the loggers.

Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world at 151,600 miles.

Canada also contains 9% of the world’s water supply.

Tensions between French Canada and English Canada boiled over in October 1970, when the Front de Liberation du Quebec (FLQ) kidnapped the UK Trade Commissioner. The army had to be called in to put an end to the revolt.

Charles Fenerty, a poet from Halifax, was the first person to use wood fibers to make paper.

Once upon a time, a black bear cub from Canada named Winnipeg was one of the most popular attractions at the London Zoo. Winnie, as she was called, became a favorite of Christopher Robin Milne and inspired his father, A.A. Milne, to write a book about a Pooh Bear named Winnie and his friend, Christopher Robin.

canadian mountainsManitou Lake on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron is the world’s largest lake within a lake.

Canada’s name comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, “kanata,” which means “village” or “settlement.”

Canada is the largest producer of a refreshingly sweet dessert wine called icewine.

William Shatner is Canadian.

So is Avril Lavigne.

As is Celine Dion, whose heart will always go on.

Canada is also home to the world’s smallest jail, located in Ontario. It’s only 270 square feet.

Toronto dwellers hold more university degrees than any other big city in the world.

Canada has just one desert, located in British Columbia. The desert is only 15 miles long.

In 1883, the baseball glove was invented in Canada.

In 1962, research scientist Edward Asselbergs created dehydrated potato flakes while working for the Department of Agriculture in Ottawa.

The narrowest house in North America is 6 Donnacona Street in Quebec City and is only 3.7 meters wide.

While grieving the loss of his wife in 1913, Gideon Sundback designed the modern zipper.

In 1929, marine scientist Archibald Huntsman invented “ice fillets,” the first quick-frozen food.

There are more doughnut shops per capita in Canada than any other country.

Canada has more inland waters and lakes than any other country in the world.

The literacy rate in Canada is over 99%.

The majority of Canadians live within 150 miles of the US border.

Justin Bieber is Canadian.

Canadian backpackers love to wear their flag when they travel.

For more information on Canada, including places to go, things to do, and costs, visit my guide to Canadian travel and learn more now.

80 Comments
      • norm

        many canadians love americans, many canadians hold dual citizenship(1 million) some 20 % of canadians have american family members, many canadian families live on both sides of nthe border…..yes there are some racists like yourself but u r not the majority

  1. Technically Canada has more than on desert albeit not occurring naturally. There is a man made desert on an Ontario military base that is used for training. I visited it for a photoshoot and when you’re in the middle of it you’d never know you weren’t in a real desert.

  2. Ray

    This is a fun little list. Please don’t hold Celine against us (we have many other great cultural exports besides her and the Biebs).

    I have to ask, though, where did you get “Montreal, sometimes called The City of Churches, has more churches than houses.”? Montreal does have many, many churches but more than houses? That is a bit of an exaggeration. Montreal is more commonly known as “la ville aux cent clochers” (city of 100 bell towers).

  3. Cool list, Matt! But you forgot to include . . . Canada’s border crossing can be one of the worst. No, I’m not bitter . . . I swear . . . not at all . . . well, maybe a bit :)

    Thanks for the interesting tidbits!

  4. “The capital city, Ottawa, was originally named Bytown and was the deadliest city in North America because of the violent nature of the loggers.” Haha, very funny. Now the most secure place in Canada.

    “Canada also contains 9% of the world’s water supply.” And yet we give it to Pepsi Co. for free (then we buy the bottles with yes, our own water it in).

    “There are more donut shops per capita in Canada than any other country.” Tim Hortons, anyone? Take that, Dunkin Donuts.

    “The majority of Canadians live within 150 miles of the US border.” That’s because we love you guys so much, even though we pretend not to 😉

    • ejes

      no, we don’t “love” amerians. they’re fat, lazzy loud mouthed douchebags and most canaidans except those who live in Alberta hate them.

    • Stakhanov

      Actually not entirely true. ice hockey actually IS our official winter sport, lacrosse is our official summer sport. Ice hockey, as far as I know has been an official national sport since a parliamentary act in 1994 declared it as such 😉

  5. Good list of tidbits Matt. I love the American/Canadian rivalry. It plays out great in sports. And I have to admit every joke about Canada that’s thrown at us makes me chuckle, especially those from “How I met your Mother” (Neil Patrick Harris rocks btw!). But yea, America, as much as we love to disown our relationship, we tight. Fo sho.

    • Stakhanov

      So was scotty 😛 Interesting fact about James Doohan as well is that he was injured during d-day and after the war continued in the canadian military for a while and was notorious for doing bat shit crazy stunts with planes.

      to quote wikipedia..

      “Though he was never actually a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was once labelled the “craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Force.” A story from his flying years tells of Doohan slaloming a plane — variously cited as a Hurricane or a jet trainer — between mountainside telegraph poles to prove it could be done, which earned him a serious reprimand. (The actual feat was also performed in a Mark IV Auster on the Salisbury Plain north of RAF Andover, in the late spring of 1945).[8]”

  6. Yvonne

    Awesome! Thanks Matt! Now I’m a little bit better prepared for TBEX and my trip to Canada next year… cause all I knew about Canada till now I had from “How I met your Mother”. Yes. Seriously. (ok, not all but mostly) And I really wanna know if the Canadians really are afraid of the dark. Are they? Are they? :)

  7. Interesting facts. I remember seeing a show once when some canadian comedians came to america posing as newsmen and asked americans things like “Since Canada is land locked should they have a navy?” and “How do you think global warming with affect the canadian parliament buildings since they are all made out of ice?” Of course they were able to find a few dumb americans (okay, a lot) and they were totally fooled into thinking it was real and giving dumb answers.

    • Stakhanov

      Yeah, that was Rick Mercer. He used to have a segment on a comedy show up here and it was called “Talking to Americans”.

  8. ““The majority of Canadians live within 150 miles of the US border.” That’s because we love you guys so much, even though we pretend not to ;)”

    Nah, we’re just cuddling up to the Americans for warmth… after all, past that border it immediately and magically becomes a land of snow and ice. :p

  9. Interesting facts indeed! I love Justin Beiber – and with that I mean his music. Stunning photo by the way. Wonder where in Canada it was taken.

  10. Being Canadian and learning most of these facts for the first time was awesome! Ottawa was the deadliest city!?? whaaa!! It’s such a quaint little town!
    Also, I would like to know what you think of Tim Hortons in comparison with Dunkin Donuts.

    • NomadicMatt

      Yeah! When you go to Ottawa, visit the Bytown canal center. They talk about the logging past of the city. When it was first settled, Ottawa, then called Bytown, was a logging capital and because of the the rough and drunkenness of the settlers, it was the deadliest city during the time. It quickly changed but for a brief moment in history, Ottawa was not the place to be.

  11. thalia

    the show that everyone is referring to is ‘this hour has 22 minutes’ the segment is called ‘TALKING TO AMERICANS’ said in a deep booming and mysterious voice. great show!!!
    ps- justin beiber? ouch.

  12. Johnny

    Canada is great country and without the Great US of A we would not be what we are today. I don’t think we appreciate our neighbor enough, or recognize the benefits that come between our borders. I agree as Canadians like to tease about our differences and point them out but I think this kind of banter is getting old. Remember when Obama came to Ottawa, what a turn-out we had for him and that’s the Canadian spirit I like to see. Holy Coffee Shops Munutkangkao!

  13. Nice facts about Canada :) I’m a new Canadian, and I don’t believe I haven’t tried ice wine! I need to have that when I go back to Canada!

    • norm

      he was born in canada but when he invented basketball(soccar ball and a peach basket) he was an american citizen working and living in usa

  14. frank

    did you write this to make people hate us more than south park already did>?
    why in the world would you mention justin beiber?

    also, we hate noone, especially those in the united states. we simply hate their government, for turning into a corporate/religious puppet bent on dividing the people and taking over the world, using violence, intimidation and psychological warfare to achieve their goal.

  15. Hey! Awesome list, eh? Here’s another one, the first Europeans in North America landed in Canada a thousand years ago when the Vikings tried to colonize Newfoundland.

  16. Ben

    Thankful for Canada’s great universal medical care. Feel sorry my American relatives, they don’t see medical care the same way. Americans give us good TV shows, Arts, commerce, they used to sell us glorious cars by the millions, they still send us fruits and veggies through out our snow-bound six month winters and sell us great airplanes. We love to visit the U.S. and enjoy all the wonderful pictures of America we see on the net. Our, ‘up till now,’ undefended borders speak of a brotherhood unheard of in the modern free world. Quebec, a culture, and actually a free country within our country, illustrates the multi-cultural richness we all share. From Chinatown, Little Italy, the Jamaican section in Toronto to the still vibrant Ukrainian part of Winnipeg, and in our many Aboriginal villages, we show a variety of cultural riches not found elsewhere in the world. most our prominent politicians have to be of high educational standards, able to speak, read and write in two languages at least, French and English – separating out the loud-mouth demagogues, and forcing at least bi-culturalism even in our Parliament. Canada, the best country in the world, getting better, soon to offer free dental care and free post-secondary education! Canadians can freely vote NDP, a socialist inclined national party for these benefits, and they just might!

  17. Alexandra

    I got one. The creator of Superman was Canadian, Joe Shuster. (There used to always be a one-minute history commercial all about it.) We also take claim to the telephone because Alexander Graham Bell (though born in Scotland) moved to Canada. That’s why our main telephone company was Bell Canada for over 100 years (I think Rogers has surpassed them now).

  18. LenHard

    How could poutine and beavertails be excluded from this list?? And by the way that tiny little jailhouse is located in Tweed Ontario.

  19. person

    Canada’s got Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion, Justin Beiber, Sam Roberts, Hedley,Nickelback and a bunch of other great artists, and what does America have? Rebecca Black….

  20. I know my European relatives thought us all to live in Teepees and huts, you know the old “cowboy and indians” deal. They had no idea until they visited that we actually have full blown houses and cars and cities. OH MY! 😉

  21. rosemary

    fine article….

    Quebec is one of my favorite city. A Few days ago I had been to Sherbrooke and stayed in Hotel le President it was a wonderful experience …

  22. stellalove

    amazing….. Thanks for sharing valuable info…its worth sharing Whether it is for tourism, business or group activities, Hôtel Le Président hotel offers everything one would expect for your next visit in Sherbrooke.

  23. Stephen Pittman

    Nomadic Matt I am a canadian citizen who is planing on traveling the world in a years time with no time frame set, it’ll take as long as it takes, LOL. I’m starting my planning today and am impressed and thankful for you sharing your experiences and traveling tips, I can already tell this website is going to be critical in my planning, CHEERS!

    Another cool canadian tidbit is that the east coast province Newfoundland & Labrador is the first place of settlement in north america. It has north america’s oldest living city which holds the genius book of world records for the most bars on one street. The street is called George Street and it hosts two amazing festivals, a week long festival in late july to early august called George Street festival and another on halloween night call Mardi Gras. Both festivals have the street blocked off on both ends with one small entry fee at the gate, allowing you to flow in and out of each unique bar free of charge with the party on the street equaling the party inside the bars, the live music especially during George Street Festival is something to be cherished!

    Happy Travels explorers!

  24. Maggie L

    this is great! im an american but i love canada.. and i love the story about how winnie the pooh came about..never knew that. and the one about celine dion -LOL. funny. the post about how much canadians love to wear their flag while traveling is also hilarious. and very true, ive noticed on my travels as well. im a super proud american but i dont go around flashing the US flag er’where…come on now..still love canada tho! but my truest love will always be for ‘merica <3

  25. Anna

    Er… Rush? How could you forget Rush? No, seriously, those guys have done more for Canada than Justin Bieber ever could.

    And the bacon, yes.

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