Ten Essential Facts Aboot Canada:
01) Our Origins Are Cloaked In
Mystery Confusion: The Dominion Of Canada was created in 1867, Newfoundland joined up in 1949. We got our own flag in 1967 1965 (oops), and our own Constitution and Charter Of Rights And Freedoms in 1982. The Canadian Province of Quebec, with a population of 7 million, has yet to sign the constitution. It’s all very weird.
But not as weird as this… follow along if you can:
Canada was founded 350 years ago by the French and their Native allies; who were then defeated 200 years later by the British and their Native allies; who were then joined by British-American refugees who had just lost the American Revolution to a bunch of… well, Americans and their French allies; the British-American refugees then allied with the British-Canadians and their Native allies who in turn joined up with the French-Canadians and their Native allies and together they beat the shit out of the Newly Armed & Famous Americans during the War Of 1812. Or, as we sometimes refer to it, “That Week We Burned The White House To The Ground” or “TWWBTWHTTG Day”.
After that was done all of the territories in Canada thought it’d be a good idea to permanently team up, and so Canada was borne. See? Easy.
02) It’s Not The Length… It’s The Width: Canada is bigger than your country… unless you’re Russian. Jeezus Keerighst Russia is huge. Canada: 9.97 million sq km; European Union: 3.97 million sq km; America: 5.69 million sq km. Canada’s seventh largest province, Newfoundland, is almost twice the size of the United Kingdom. The UK’s population is around 66 million… Newfoundland’s population is aboot 500 thousand… each one of whom will adopt you as soon as your plane touches down. Canada’s population is 33 million. We’ve got a lot of room here.
03) Got Oil?: We have nearly as much oil as Saudi Arabia, and we supply the United States with the majority of their imported oil. Really. Fuck Chavez and his OPEC buddies. Just don’t tell anyone.
04) Canadians Invent Stuff: Among other stuff, Canadians are responsible for Hollywood (seriously, that Hollywood was created by Canadians), the pacemaker, basketball, the Wonderbra (you are so welcome), Pablum, radio (yes, radio was invented by a Canadian) and insulin as a treatment for diabetes.
05) Hockey — Part One: We play Hockey. When we’re not playing Hockey it’s summer, that’s when we watch the Canadian Football League (CFL). The CFL is different from the American NFL in that the CFL is fast, end zone celebrations are encouraged, a 3000 yard season will make you a backup QB, the only 300lb men are in the stands, there are three downs to make 10 yards, the field is 10 yards longer and 10 yards wider, and it’s just so much more fun to watch. The CFL’s trophy is the Grey Cup and it has been around since 1909. It’s not Hockey, but it’s close.
06) Beavertails, Toques, Pot, Health Care & Greenpeace: We wear toques; we eat BeaverTails; in the Spring we eat liquid sugar that comes from trees and live on the buzz until next year; our winters are usually insanely cold, but thanks to Europe and America… and us, they’re getting warmer — we started this whole Climate Change Conference Stuff, but now we’re
unofficially out of Kyoto… which is okay because so is everyone else; our weed is plentiful and basically legal in small amounts… like less than a pound (I’m surprised more NBA and NFL players don’t live here in the off season); gay marriage and gay divorce? Check and check; the largest Gay Pride Parade in the whole entire world; abortion is so freaking legal here it’s retroactive — don’t like the way your teenage kid turned out? Zzzzaap; free and full health care coverage: Heart Transplant? Free. Lung Cancer? Free. Brain Surgery? Free. Your Friend Smacked A Shovel Upside Your Head? Free. Sea Shepherds and Greenpeace? Canadian. What else… oh yeah, the best fucking weed on the planet. My friend grows it next to his potatoes in his backyard. He smokes aboot three grams a fucking day… the guy cannot remember where he parked his house.
07) We Like To Lend A Hand: After the Hurricane Katrina Disaster the first Search & Rescue team into Louisiana’s St. Bernard Parish was Canadian. The ‘Vancouver Urban Search and Rescue Team’ from Vancouver, British Columbia got there two days after Katrina hit.
08) Hockey — Part Two: We play a lot of Hockey. The highest achievement in Hockey is winning the Stanley Cup (since 1893). A team must win four of seven games in four seven game series played over five weeks. Then they fill the Stanley Cup with beer and drink from The Stanley Cup. Both major Canadian trophies are giant steel Cups. This is no coincidence.
09) Hockey — Part Three: Everything you’ve ever heard aboot Canada and Hockey is not even close to how much we play and watch Hockey. Really. This is from 1997. The Detroit Red Wings vs. Colorado Avalanche. It’s the first time beloved Red Wing Hero, Kris Draper — who was devastatingly wounded the previous year by The Dastardly Avalanche Bastard, Claude Lemiuex — will face the person who nearly crippled his career. It was an ugly and bloody grudge match, and one of the most exciting Hockey games I’ve ever seen.
10) We’ve Saved Europe Twice: Canada sent a lot of soldiers to defend The Motherlands of France and England in both WWOne, where Canadian General Arthur Currie basically won the whole thing by himself, and WWTwo, and were in both from the beginning. We were also in the Korean War, we skipped Vietnam but close to 30,000 Canadians went South and joined up with the American military. In return we got a shit load of American hippies. We skipped out on Granada and The Falklands as well… we were busy those months.
…and none of those fucking 9-11 hijackers had anything to do with Canada… so do everyone a favour and please kill the urban myth bullshit.
Canadians also invented Peacekeeping and wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the UN. NATO… yeah, we were a founding nation. We have a couple thousand soldiers doing something good right now in Afghanistan. We were there in Gulf War One, but politely declined for the Sequel… oh yeah, we did some crazy-heroic shit in Bosnia as well. We were in Somalia, but that was a fucking disaster… Special Forces are not traffic cops.
I think that’s aboot it… oh yeah, my pater-grandfather served on The Hood, my mater-grandfather was a fighter pilot, his youngest brother flew bombers over Germany, and his oldest brother was a full-on beginning-to-end member of The Devils Brigade. Fuck yeah.
Bonus Thing — 1972, Canada vs. Soviet Union: This is one of Canada’s non-military defining moments and it was all aboot Hockey. Game 8. 1972. Canada v. The Soviet Union: Henderson Scores Baby. Today the boys move up to 20mph, the vulcanized rubber puck is aboot the size of a fist and can move up to 100mph… honest-to-your-higher-being, how can anyone sit and watch soccer or baseball… and what the fuck is Cricket all aboot? A game where nothing happens over several days and the fans are a mile away from… what do they call that? Home plate? The Sticks Area? There’s got to be some kind of connection between Europe’s love of non-contact, prancing sports and their inclination for starting global warfare… I’m sure of it.
Ashley MacIssac: Canadian
“Sleepy Maggie“; ‘Hi, How Are You Today?’ (1996)
I have a passport, and I am coming to Canada.
I will get off the plane, smoke weed, eat sugary sap, watch hockey and wear a lilac toque. I don’t give a flying fook which order I do these things in, I will try very hard to do them all at the same time.
I may have to think very carefully about eating beaver. Over here, that can be construed as something to satisfy a completely different appetite, other than the one your stomach cries out for.
Watch out Canada. The Brits are coming.
erm … again.
I have a sneaking suspicion that Gabriel works for the Canadian Tourist Board because, dang it, you make Canada sound so fucking good!!
yum ! yum !
queen mix, I’m wif u on everyfin plus i’m eatin anyfin d canadians r eatn. lol.. God bless Canada
lol God bless Canada
Beaver means that here too, Queen Minx. Actually, so does tail. Gabriel forgot to mention that Canadians are also sex fiends. Comes from the cold climate.
(And Beaver Tails are deep fried sugar overed in more sugar and chocolate sauce, in case you were wondering.)
I get the distinct impression from the way Queen is so quick to talk about beaver all the time that the Brits are coming over and over and over and over again then two more times in the kitchen while they make the “afterwards tea”.
And, yes, Canada’s cold climate will make you come inside over and over and over and over and over and over again as well, and four more times in front of the big plate-glass window in the livingroom so everyone on the street can watch… ahem.
It’s 98 farenheight here last week and that’s not cold.
more brits are comin thanks for tellin me about the TWWBTWHTTG Day its great and how much weed can you have for personal use 1 lbthats a shit load for that you gotta got dutch man
I am a medical pot user I am allowed 30 grams a day for making tea (LOL) and 900 grams per month free. I Love Canada but I winter in Jamaica because the USA will not let me in as I have A pot conviction from 15 years ago .Since 9/11 they won’t allow people with drug convictions in.
“Happy TWWBTWHTTG Day” actually makes a nice T-Shirt.
I’m not sure aboot the actual “personal usage” amounts right now, my friend “the weed activist” tells me there’s some kind of crackdown, but he’s stoned, like, 90 percent of the year, so I’m not sure if he can read anymore.
Great post Gabriel! Makes me think of another thing we Canucks are known for – a sense of humour and being a crucible for breeding comedians, of whom you are one. G
Thanks very much. I’ve been forgetting The Humour lately… CSN:AFU has been starting to get waaaay too serious.
The Canuck-Humour thing is something I keep meaning to post aboot… with Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, 40-Year Old Virgin) and Michael Cera’s career taking off (Superbad, Arrested Development) it kind of makes sense to write aboot this next generation.
Thanks for coming by… hey, did you know we both started blogging pretty much the same week? That’s actually pretty cool…
hey!… you should have got a trackback from my website automatically from this post. I dont know why it didnt work :)
I don’t know why the trackback didn’t pop up, I did see the post, it’s very perceptive… and I’m always interested in how newbies see Canada. I’ve got your website open right now, and I plan on responding on your page later on. Thanks for using me as a source.
Gabriel – weird synchronicity in our blogging starting the same week – it must be because my name is the feminine version of yours. Our stars msut have aligned somehow. Were you by any chance born in October? (Not that I believe in any of that Horoscope hocus-pocus… :-) !) G
Freaky. We started blogging together and we’ve got the same name? That really is weird… I was born in February. I’m not a horoscope person either, but I love coincidences.
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congratulations, you just reinforced the canada/hockey sterotype, lol.
i love justin bieber!!
Thanks for the aboot Canada piece. My students are studying Canada and your 10 things to know was a perfect introduction for them. I agree that the prancing sports lead directly to world wars of conquest, although my country seems to be bent on getting wars going in every country and ecosystem: witness the War on the Gulf which is a nice counter point the Gulf War. Students were impressed you guys burnt down the White House.
Thanks very much Doug. If we ever started teaching history up here I think our students would be impressed about the White House thing as well. Thanks for leaving the comment, please feel free to dig around in here a little.
I’ve also written about (aboot) a book on the War Of 1812 you might be interested in:
‘The Invasion Of Canada: 1812-1813′ by Pierre Berton
This is from the back of the book: “To America’s leaders in 1812, an invasion of Canada seemed to be “a mere matter of marching,” as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of 8 million fail to subdue a struggling colony of 300,000? Yet, when the campaign of 1812 ended, the only Americans left on Canadian soil were prisoners of war. Three American armies had been forced to surrender, and the British were in control of Michigan Territory and much of Indiana and Ohio.”
It’s all about (aboot) a major military power underestimating the fighting will and dedication of a much smaller force. Wink-wink.
Thanks again Doug, for the comment, and the compliment.
Awesome Gabe. Just AWESOME. :) I want some maple syrup now…
Thanks Rae, for the comment and for coming over… I still think maple syrup should be like health care in this country, free to those who need it.
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a few more things. We invented baseball, basketball, the telephone, the majority of troops in Afghanistan right now are Canadian, we do say “eh” a lot, (i think it’s better than “huh?”) but we use it where it is meant to be in a sentence, and we DON’T have an accent compared to Americans. the metric system is the more common, so we aren’t the weird ones, Toronto was originally “York” which is why “New York” was used, because york was already taken. we don’t all live in igloos, only a few small tribes way up north, which is why global warming isn’t affecting our houses. It Doesn’t drop 50 degrees when you cross the border, (so don’t go to Canada to ski in the middle of July. there wont be any snow. I once saw someone doing that. ) We don’t own or ride moose or polar bears, we do watch NFL, our mounties look like normal cops, and i have NEVER seen one in my life. The last fact may make most Americans mad at me so (believe it or not) Canadians burned down the white house! here’s the story: after the American revolutions, USA decided to invade Canada, so we fought back, and USA pretty got their asses kicked by Canadians, and in that war, we burned down the white house. (once again believe it or not)
“Toronto was originally “York” which is why “New York” was used, because york was already taken”
Not so. New York was named after the City of York in England. The name was also used for the Province of New York by the British authorities prior to the US War of Independence. In Canada Toronto was originally Fort York, also named after York in England.
Yeah… we’ve pretty much already determined Justin meant well, but, like many others before him, he’s a victim of the lack of Canadian history being taught in Canadian schools. But he is trying.
Speaking of which, thanks Nick, for letting us know things are almost always named after other things.
Hi Justin, thanks for playing along. Basketball was invented by a Canadian, but baseball was not invented by Canadians, or, really, anywhere near Canada — it came to America via England, Russia, Germany and Romania.
I’m almost willing to go along with the telephone, but eventually we, as a nation and a people, have to come to grips with the fact it was invented by a Scotsman, and developed in Canada and the United States.
I did mention the White House thing in #7 — if you want to learn more, Google ‘TWWBTWHTTG Day’. If you want to meet a Mountie I’d suggest going to the airport and yelling “I’ve got a bomb”. Or heading to British Columbia and speeding.
And, in Afghanistan, Canada has roughly 2,500 soldiers deployed while there are (with Obabma’s surge) about 80,000-100,000 American troops over there. Britain has somewhere around 9,500. And Afghanistan itself has about 140,000 troops in various stages of development… including foetal.
Just to be clear on the White House thing: technically it was the Brits who burned the White House. Canada hadn’t been invented yet.
Just to be clear, Nick, Canada has been kicking ass and taking names since at least the late 18th century. By 1792 both Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) had been created, as well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We were, by then, definitely Canadian citizens, and subjects of the Monarchy. Yes, British soldiers were involved in ‘TWWBTWHTTG Day’, but so were French-Canadians, Americans loyal to the Queen, Natives from various nations, as well as English-Canadians.
My great-something-grandfather was the first French-speaking doctor in Quebec, he got here in 1760, and was still fit enough to serve in the war of 1812, and he never had a problem referring to himself as a Canadian.
If you really want to blow your mind, look into how events in Canada were responsible for the creation of the United States.
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Oh I loved this – I should add some of these to my Blog – also hope you love webdesigner/webdesigner canadians http://www.canadianwebdesigner.ca sorry to spam ya but hey I love Canada too :)
Hi Cameron… you’re too specific to be spam, and you can spell, so I’ll let your URL sit there. Thanks for leaving the comment, and if you do decide to use anything from my blog I expect you’ll do the Canadian thing and source me properly or I’ll do the Canadian thing and beat you with a hockey stick.
o come on we don’t say aboot that much eh
eh. CBC had a Neil MacDonald feature on the Congresswoman who was shot in the brain and he said “aboot” aboot three times. I was sitting on the couch with my girlfriend and, in the middle of this tragic story being told, I’m pointing at the TV yelling “see? See? We all say ‘aboot‘.”
You my sir, are pure awesome!
I’m also canadian, I speak french, so does my dad. My grand-parents make homemade maple syrup, I used to play hockey and always watch the NHL. I’m told I’m super polite and some of my family belongs to the military. Hell yeah, you can be that canadian.
Finally, the recognition is starting to pour in. That’s cool about your grandparents, everyone should be so lucky. Thanks George, I hope your team goes deep into the playoffs next year.
I love everything about canada and i wish to come and see for my self
You totally should come for a visit, but there’s no rush, we’ll be here for a while.
The Irish are coming to Canada woooo
They’re already here, but we’re always willing to take in a few more. Weird fact: the part of Ontario I live in is 85% Francophone (French speaking in the home), but across the river, in the Quebec mountains, it’s majority Irish. Crazy.
I matriculated here in South Africa in 2010, took a gap year and was so close to coming over there to work as a snowboard instructor. My buddy bailed and I freaked out. I’m now in my first year studying engineering. I don’t know if I should be doing this. I can’t stop being pissed at myself for not coming, missing out. I have always liked inventing things but I am pretty sure I am mostly into extreme sports, nature(the awesome forests you have) and extreme sports in nature. I am trying to find what I love doing. What will make it worthwhile if I should stop studying half year in and come over? I would need to make some money if I would do this.
Awesome post by the way.
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Theres a little bit of gloating here…you lost the war of 1812 like horribly. And the canadian health care system is horrible, yes free free free but the service is one of the worst in the world, besides 3rd world countries of course. Free health care is an awful concept because it doesnt work. and canadian football is a joke. The grey cup are you serious? The CFL brings shame to the name of football.
…this isn’t meant to be a ‘Canadian v. The World’ post… but, since you’re here:
Last time I checked, the War of 1812 was started by the the country you live in, and ended with pretty much the same boundaries between the territories as when it began. So I’m not sure how, anywhere other than in the US, that could be considered a ‘victory’. I’m going to go ahead and guess you also believe Vietnam was a tie. Or that Iraq was an “honourable withdrawal”… or something.
According to Bloomberg, Hong Kong ranked first in the developed world in “efficient health care” — life span / cost per GDP / cost per capita, with a score of 92.6 (life expectancy: 83.4-years; percentage of GDP: 3.8%; cost per capita: US$1,409).
Canada ranked 17th with a 53.5 (80.9-years; 10.8%; US$5,630). Remarkably, with a mark of 30.8, the US ranked 46th out of 48 (78.6-years; 17.2%; US$8,608), just a little worse than Iran, and just a touch better than Serbia and Brazil.
(According to the World Health Organization, out of 191 countries — but using a different formula — France was first, Canada ranked 30th and the US ranked 38th, but Canada was 10th in spending and the US was first).
According to Bloomberg: “Among advanced economies, the U.S. spends the most on health care on a relative cost basis with the worst outcome.”
Also, infant mortality rates in Canada are substantially lower than in the US (24th v. 34th in the world). Just saying.
So, again, only in the most delusional sense of ‘American exceptionalism’ could a 46th / 38th place finish — and a life expectancy lower than most of the developed world — be considered better than a 17th / 30th place finish that costs less and promotes a longer, better quality of life from cradle to grave.
Regarding the Grey Cup and the CFL… go fuck yourself. The ‘Vince Lombardi Trophy’ is one of the ugliest in sports, the NFL is slow, played on a tiny field and the most over-hyped hyper-nationalized product outside of European football.
Thanks for the comment.
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It was Britain who burned the white house. Canadians had nothing to do with that part of the war. Beating back a weak poorly lead American army is really nothing to brag about.
Nope. The American military were (was) led by Jackson, Scott, Madison, and a few others. Hardly a bunch of idiots… other than the fact they had the idea Canada would be a “push over”.
But they were fighting against British regular forces, French-Canadians, Americans loyal to the Queen, Natives from various nations, as well as English-Canadians. The group of firebugs who ultimately lit the match might have been wearing red coats, but they were fighting for a common country…
“To America’s leaders in 1812, an invasion of Canada seemed to be “a mere matter of marching,” as Thomas Jefferson confidently predicted. How could a nation of 8 million fail to subdue a struggling colony of 300,000? Yet, when the campaign of 1812 ended, the only Americans left on Canadian soil were prisoners of war. Three American armies had been forced to surrender, and the British were in control of Michigan Territory and much of Indiana and Ohio.”
— ‘The Invasion Of Canada: 1812-1813′ by Pierre Berton
Only the natives found canada first by themselves.
There are a few theories. One is that the First Peoples of North America were the Clovis, who walked across the land / ice bridge from Asia to NA, 13,000-years ago. Another is that it was the Solutreans, who came from Europe thousands of years before, and they were actually the precursors to the Clovis people.
Then there’s the one where the Thule People came from Asia, moved along the northern frontier, quickly followed (and wiped out) by the Inuit, who continued to migrate through the top of the continent until they came into contact with Northern Europeans (they beat up the Vikings). I like that one.
There’s a lot of evidence for all of them. The Ice Age meant travel across the Atlantic — moving East or West — was definitely possible, just as it was across the Arctic and Bering Straits.
But that’s geographically. Politically, the Dominion of Canada was created over a few bottles of wine in 1867.
I also really like John Ralston Saul’s theory that Canada is “a Métis nation, heavily influenced and shaped by Aboriginal ideas: Egalitarianism, a proper balance between individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are all Aboriginal values that Canada absorbed.”
That’s from his 2009 book, ‘A Fair Country‘. If you haven’t read it, I highly suggest it.