9 Little Known Facts About Canada
This weekend Canadians are getting ready to celebrate Canada Day on July 1, which commemorates Canada’s confederation and marks the start of our fight towards independence (in 1867). Canada is now 152 years old. To celebrate Canada Day, check out these little known facts over the next few days about Canada which make it such a unique place to live.
1. Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the world
If all of the sovereign countries are ranked by population density, Canada has the 10th lowest population density. Since Canada is such a large country (area-wise) and has a relatively low population, Canada’s population density is 4 people per square mile.
2. Canada is home to A LOT of languages
Canada is home to many different indigenous nations who speak a wide variety of languages. There are 60 indigenous languages which are part of 12 indigenous language families in Canada alone. These 12 language families are Algonquian, Inuit, Athabaskan, Siouan, Salish, Iroquoian, Tsimshian, Wakashan, Michif, Haida, Tlingit, and Kutenai. Language families are distinct from one another, without relation. To give some perspective, there are only 7 languages families in Europe: Indo-European (includes Romance, Germanic, Hellenic, and Slavic languages), Uralic (includes Hungarian, Estonian, and Finnish), Turkic (includes Tatar, Kazakh, and Turkish), Basque, North Caucasian, Mongolic (includes Kalmyk), and Semitic (includes Maltese).
Sadly, all of these 60 indigenous languages, except 3 (Ojibwe, Cree, and Inuktitut), are at risk of extinction. Many more languages existed, however they have already gone extinct. To read more about these dead languages, check out this article.
3. Canadian independence happened a lot more recently than most people think
Many people, including Canadians, believe that Canada became an independent country on July 1, 1867 because this is recognized as our national holiday and celebrated annually. In reality, July 1, 1867 was the initial date when Canada became an autonomous nation; however Canada was still controlled by the British Empire. Beginning in 1867, Canada gained control over its internal affairs, while Britain continued to control Canada’s external affairs.
In 1982, the United Kingdom passed the Canada Act which outlined that the United Kingdom was no longer able to amend the Canadian Constitution and removed several powers of control that the United Kingdom still had over Canada.
Although Canada is an autonomous, sovereign nation, it is not 100% independent from Britain. Any law that is passed in Canada must receive royal assent where a representative of Queen Elizabeth II approves the bill, making it into law. Royal assent is mostly a formality, and the Queen’s representative has not passed a bill since the early 20th century.
4. Canada is so big it has 6 time zones
Canada is such a large country that it has six time zones. Technically, it is five and half because the Atlantic time zone (for Newfoundland) is only a 30 minute difference, which does not occur in many time zones around the world.
5. Canada has a special relationship with the Netherlands
During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Canada hosted the Dutch royal family. During their stay in Canada, Princess Juliana got pregnant and gave birth to her daughter, Margariet, on January 14, 1943.1 In order to be eligible to the throne, Margariet needs to be born on Dutch soil. The government of Canada deemed the maternal ward at the hospital in Ottawa “extraterritorial” so that Margariet can be born on Dutch soil.2
As a thank you, the Netherlands sends thousands of tulips to Ottawa every year since 1943, and Ottawa hosts a tulip festival to celebrate. 3
In addition to this event, Canada was also part of the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi rule in World War II.4
6. Canadians are obsessed with Tim Hortons
You may already have heard that Canada’s favourite, homegrown fast food restaurant is Tim Hortons. But when you really look at the number about how much Canadians love Tim Hortons, it really puts into perspective. Tim Hortons has almost 3900 restaurants in Canada: one restaurant per 9,000 people. My city of 130,000 has 25 of these restaurants: one restaurant per 2,500 people.
Tim Hortons has only recently started expanding into other countries. Approximately 500 restaurants are located outside of Canada. You can find restaurants in the United States (especially close to the Canadian Border), United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, The Philippines, China, Spain, and recently the United Kingdom with plans to expand operations in the Middle East, China, and the United Kingdom.
Canadian English has a few expressions thanks to Tim Hortons, including a double double (a coffee with two cream and two sugar), a triple triple (a coffee with three cream and three sugar), timbits (known as donut holes in the US), and tims run (a quick run to grab food/coffee from Tim Hortons).
7. Canada has a legislation about apologizing
Canadians say sorry so often that the Government of Ontario passed a legislation stating that sorry does not qualify as admission of guilt in a court of law. In other words, if you hit someone and say sorry (as is a common reflex of Canadians), the person who you hit cannot use that sorry as an admission of guilt and have to find other evidence to prove your guiltiness.
Check out the Apology Act, 2009 for yourself.