All About Canada

by Female Abroad

A country of understated natural beauty that has less than 50% of its landmass inhabited and about 75% of the population lives within 300 km of the USA / Canada border. When you say "Canada" a lot of people picture polar bears, maple syrup, very polite people that say "eh" a lot, the Rocky Mountains, and Hockey but Canada is so much more than just that. It is a country that is a melting pot and also still trying to create an identity for itself. It only got a constitution in 1982 and is still under British governance although the Queen (now King) is seen as a figurehead and asking their permission to sign off on things just a formality but when you become a citizen you still have to swear an oath to the monarch and Canadian passports are issued in their name. There is an entirely French province and a territory dedicated to the Inuit so you can see what I mean by a melting pot of people trying to find an identity as a country.

Their currency is the Canadian Dollar with coins being:

- nickles (5 cents) - dimes (10 cents) - quaters (25 cents)

- loonie (1 dollar) - toonie (2 dollar)

They also use bills that come in $5, $10, $20, $50, $100 denominations and while they used to use penny's they were removed from circulation ten years ago (May 2012).

The country also features two main languages - English & French. While both are taught in grade school, only about 18% of the population is bilingual with most either speaking English or if you are in Quebec, then most speak French. You will notice the bilingual nature of the country as most labels have both languages, the Federal Government and its services are offered in French, and when you get to Ontario you will notice both languages on signs due to the Official Languages Act.

History Overview of Canada

Originally inhabited by the First Nations (previously referred to as Indians but since there is a large population from India living in Canada, it got confusing plus some people see the word "Indian" as racist.) The Vikings did land in the Maritimes in the 11th century, built a few structures and then left. Around the 16th century the Europeans (English & French) started to colonize Canada and created trade routes with the indigenous peoples. In 1760 a war broke out between the British & the French colonizers, but a lot of the French decided to stay after Britan won the war. In 1867 the three British colonies merged to form a Confederation and the Dominion of Canada was born. This is just a super brief summary that smooths over a lot of important history but if you are interested in learning more I highly suggest the Government of Canada's History Services.

Canada's Location

Found on the top half of North America, Canada stretches east - west from the Pacific to Atlantic Ocean (their motto is "From Sea to Shining Sea") and up north to the Artic Ocean. In the South and the Northwest corner, you will find that Canada shares a boarder with the USA. In the Northeast Canada is only separated from Greenland by the Davis Straight. There is even two French owned islands just off the coast of Newfoundland in Canadian waters.

As of 2022 Canada not only boarders the USA but also Europe with Hans Island now being split between Denmark and Canada ending the decades old feud that was the most peaceful war ever waged. Every time one of the countries sailed past and saw the flag was not theirs, they would change it and leave a bottle of whiskey. No more free whiskey I guess lol.

If you want to know numbers, Canada is the second largest country in the world at 9,984,670 sq km (3,855,103 sq mi) and while we have more lakes than any other country, a former Prime Minster sold pretty much all the rights to them to American & French companies.

While the East Coast, Central, and West Coast are all very similar, what most people think of is Toronto or Ontario which is understandable because Ontario is the most populated province and Toronto is the most populated city however you would be mistaken to make the assumption that that city and province represents all of Canada. Canada is a Democratic Federation and has both a Federal and Provincial Governments which means that each Province and Territory is their own separate entity, but they act as a whole. For example, some laws & holidays are federally stipulated, but each Province or Territory also has their own laws on the books and also are in charge of enforcing the federal laws.

The Maritimes are known for fishing, Anne of Green Gables, Viking history, being friendly, and having an accent that is very similar to Ireland / Scotland.

East Coast features the Québécois in Quebec with what feels like a mini-France with a ton of history, a French dialect being the main language (English is second), poutine, and Celine Dion. Quebec actually has the largest French-speaking population outside of France although French speakers from France do not consider Quebec's dialect fully French so they call it Quebecois (pronounced Kay-Beck-cwa). Ontario is what I like to call the Canadian version of New York State. Toronto is super busy with high-rises but once you get out of it then there is a lot of gorgeous scenery, lakes, forests, and it is one of the provinces where the fact Canada is a dual language country (English & French) is on display especially in Ottawa.

The Prairies / Central Canada is all wheat, oil, wind powered, flatlands with rugged natural beauty. The joke is that if you let your dog lose in any of these Provinces then you will be able to see it still running the next day, they are that flat. Expect bugs like horse flies in the summer, crazy thunderstorms in the summer, cheap rent, no provincial taxes in Alberta, and the polar bear capital of the world in Saskatchewan.

The West Coast (i.e. BC) is separated from the rest of the country due to the Rocky Mountains. They are known for salmon fishing, native culture, Nanaimo bars, not the friendliest people (Vancouver is constantly voted the hardest city to meet people in), being Hollywood North, being able to ski in the morning and boat in the afternoon due to the mild year-round weather, and some of the best scenery in the country. Most of the time when you watch "Canadian" tick toks a lot of the items they talk about (like milk in bags) are things that the West Coast does not have. BC is super similar to the West Coast of the USA except Washington State gets more snow.

The territories are usually forgotten about, but they are up north, have defined seasons, and in the winter, they have 24/7 sunlight. Nunavut is the newest addition to the country when the Northwest Territories split in 2001 to form Nunavut & the Northwest Territories.

No matter where you go, you will typically find people enjoying the great outdoors like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling in the winter then camping, swimming, hiking, and fishing in the spring / summer / fall.

I hope that this very brief summary of Canada piques your interest and makes you not only want to learn more but to visit this gorgeous country.