When many people think of Canada, they imagine snow-covered forests, ice hockey, doughnuts, and maple syrup. Whilst mostly true, it’s a bit limited.
Sure Canada and its inhabitants have to battle harsh winters and they do enjoy watching ice hockey, but that’s only the surface. Canada has many great achievements and is full of interesting facts that might not be as well-known as the feats of the likes of Great Britain or the United States.
In truth there are a lot of things about Canada that many outsiders don’t know about it. Here are a few:
Basketball came from Canada
A now international sport that’s played by athletes around the world, basketball is often thought to have come from the United States. However, it was Windsor-based physical education professor, Dr. James Naismith, that invented the game while he was teaching a rowdy gym class in Massachusetts in 1894.
Superman’s Canadian connection
When we read the comics or see the films of the great hero Superman battling villains like Lex Luthor or Brainiac to defend life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we automatically think he’s one hundred percent American. But co-creator Joe Shuster was born to a poor Toronto Jewish-émigré family and got his start in drawing from finding scrap paper in the city’s rubbish bins as a boy.
What’s the capital city of Canada?
It’s not Toronto? Nope. Montreal, then! It used to be. But in fact the capital city of Canada is Ottawa, right on the Ontario side of the Ontario-Quebec border. Much like Washington DC or Brasilia, Ottawa is the designated federal city of Canada, and is home to parliament and many military, international, and government jobs.
Interested in French? That’s good. It’s Canada’s second language. Think it’s only in the province of Quebec? Not so much. Whilst many French speaking Canadians are based in Quebec, other large areas of French speaking Canadians live in the provinces of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Hockey isn’t Canada’s national sport
It’s true that many Canadian men and women love hockey. From playing it on frozen ponds or watching the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens on TV, the love of hockey in Canada is akin to the love of football in Europe or Latin America. Despite its popularity, Canada’s national sport is in fact lacrosse, a field sport that involves taking up a hard ball with a stick and running to throw it into field-opposed nets.
The cities are melting pots
The old joke about Canadians being Caucasians of either Anglo or French extraction may be somewhat true in parts of peripheral towns. But visit cities like Montreal, Vancouver, or Toronto, and you’ll encounter people from all over the world. Many of them are from places like Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, and Georgia, and have brought many of their own influences to where they’ve immigrated too. Like good sushi? Go to Vancouver. Want to enjoy a summer Caribbean festival? Come to the Toronto Caribbean Carnival in July.
It’s not all about winter
The other old joke that Canadian winters are harsh is pretty correct. But whether you’re in the Rocky Mountains or on the coast of Cape Breton Island, be sure to go in the summer. Temperatures can escalate to thirty degrees Celsius and many tourists from the United States come to Canada for their summer holidays.
Chicago wasn’t filmed in Chicago
If you like movies and are involved with the film industry, Canada is the place to be. Since the last quarter of the Twentieth Century, Canada has allowed many Hollywood filmmakers subsidies, tax shelters, and permits to shoot in Canada as opposed to the United States where filming is more expensive. This has led to many films that are seen as ‘American’ to actually have been shot in Canada. Look closely at hits like Chicago, Cinderella Man, Unforgiven, Suicide Squad, and The Fly. You can often make out the CN Tower or an Albertan prairie in the background!
Geography is everything
People often picture Canada as an Arctic tundra completely covered with white snow and ice. But since it’s such a big country, Canada’s geography is quite diverse. From the Rocky Mountains in the west to the flat Prairies in the middle, to the rocky islands of the east, Canada has a multitude of terrain to explore.
They walk amongst you
When you say that actors like Hugh Jackman or Pierce Brosnan are actually Australian or Irish respectively, many people are aghast. These people often drift to the US or the UK from their home countries, and the same goes for Canadians. People are equally surprised when they learn an actor like Ryan Gosling or athletes like Silken Laumann and Gordie Howe are from Canada. But it’s true.
Over time, Canadians have become very proud of their many cultural artifacts, festivities, and accomplishments, and are eager to share them with the rest of the world. Come and visit us at our language school in Toronto or at our new English school in Vancouver to learn English, plus a lot more about what Canada has to offer.