Canada is the land of the maple leaf, the true north strong and free, a place where the national symbol is the busy beaver and the varied landscapes are more stunning in real life than they are in the brochures. While there are lots of things to do in Canada dig a little deeper and you’ll soon discover cool stuff north of the 49 parallel – interesting facts about Canada that will amaze you.
In the Great White North, the loon bird hauntingly calls over a vast quiet wilderness and, dare I say, there’s not a more Canadian sound than that. Okay, maybe a hockey puck rocketing off the boards or the sound of curling stones colliding in the house.
In a country where the national symbols are a leaf, the national critter symbol is a beaver and the national sweet is maple syrup, some will assume Canada has its share of wholesome wonders.
So here’s my take, a surface scratch on some Canadian things and interesting Canadian facts to help you understand this great nation.
- 20 Amazing Canada Facts
- Cool Facts About Canada
- 1- Canada has one of the world’s smallest deserts
- 2- Canada’s largest tree is over 2000 years old
- 3- 10,000-year-old icebergs float past Newfoundland
- 4- Narcisse in Manitoba has the most snakes in the world
- 5- White is the colour of the Calgary Stampede
- 6- Anne of Green Gables is from Prince Edward Island
- 7- Winnie the Pooh is from Winnipeg
- 8- Couples tie the knot in Quebec’s ice hotel each year
- Fun Canadian Facts
- Interesting Facts About Canada
- 12- Ontario is the birthplace of Blackberry
- 13- The inventor of the telephone lived in Ontario
- 14- Canadian lumberjacks
- 15- The Group of Seven Artists painted the Canadian Shield
- 16- Hockey Night in Canada is as popular as date night
- 17- The red canoe is a symbol of early explorers
- 18- Canada’s Olympic curling team is the best in the world
- 19- The skidoo was invented in Quebec
- 20- Canada’s national police are known as Mounties
- Discover Canada
20 Amazing Canada Facts
Cool Facts About Canada
1- Canada has one of the world’s smallest deserts
One of the facts about Canada you probably didn’t know is that Canada has a desert.
You need to trek to Osoyoos into British Columbia’s south for this cool discovery.
Once you arrive don’t blink because you might miss the strange setting.
The sand span sometimes nicknamed ‘Canada’s pocket desert’ for its boutique-small size only about 24-km long is the only desert in the world that has an elevated pedestrian boardwalk so visitors don’t sink into the cool sandy mounds.
2- Canada’s largest tree is over 2000 years old
Before the invention of multi-storey buildings, Canada’s trees (especially the redwoods and cedars) were the nation’s skyscrapers.
Curious visitors can see some amazing groves in British Columbia like at the Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island or visit the Hanging Garden Tree on Meares Island, where one of the world’s oldest western red cedars and Canada’s largest tree has been standing for nearly 2,000 years.
Big Tree Trail at Meares Island is a terrific must-do.
3- 10,000-year-old icebergs float past Newfoundland
On a sunny day take a guided boat cruise along Canada’s east coast off Labrador and Newfoundland to watch icy mammoths and frozen towers so high you need to crane your neck.
The legendary Iceberg Alley is the spot to be at in spring.
The average iceberg weighs 200,000 tons and is the size of about a 15-storey building. Over 90 per cent of an iceberg is underwater.
The double cool Canadian fact is that these glacial giants are over 10,000 years old.
4- Narcisse in Manitoba has the most snakes in the world
Venture to the deepest pockets of Manitoba’s interlake country in spring to witness the largest aggregation of snakes anywhere in the world.
This bizarre annual natural phenomenon is the mating dance of thousands of red-sided garter snakes.
Located in Narcisse, tens of thousands of slithery red-sided garter snakes appear at the Narcisse Snake Den, a natural sinkhole that’s the size of your living room, in the Narcisse Wildlife Management Area.
5- White is the colour of the Calgary Stampede
The legendary 10-day cowboy roundup better known as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” is action-packed with die-hard stampeders wearing the vintage outfit: a pair of hand-made cowboy boots and wide-brimmed cowboy hat, preferably a white Smithbilt.
It’s known as white-hatting, a phenomenon that stretches back to the 1950s when the Calgary mayor used to welcome guests by popping one of these babies atop their head.
At the Calgary Stampede, you get to see real cowboys in action and with the help of a local outfitter like Banff Trail Riders you can actually become a cowboy or cowgirl for the day.
6- Anne of Green Gables is from Prince Edward Island
After all, the little redhead with freckles and pigtails seemed to always be up to adventure.
Today tourists flock to the land of Anne, the bucolic island known as Prince Edward Island for a glimpse into her imaginary world.
The Green Gables Heritage Place, located in the tiny town of Cavendish, is PEI’s most famous attraction.
Wander through this homestead and see the house decked out with Anne memorabilia, from her bedroom draped with her personal belongings to the barnyard.
The storybook location is where Montgomery drew her inspiration for the world-renowned series.
Take a guided tour, view a short film, and wander the trails, one with its babbling brook.
7- Winnie the Pooh is from Winnipeg
Then there’s another favourite children’s tale involving a cuddly bear named Pooh and a little boy named Christopher Robin.
British author A.A. Milne based these iconic tales on a true story that showcased his son’s Christopher Robin’s love of a bear named Winnie that lived in the London Zoo.
Fun Canadian fact: The bear’s real owner Harry Colebourn was a World War I Canadian soldier from Winnipeg who rescued the wee cub after the cub’s mother died.
Colebourne named the bear after his hometown – Winnipeg.
There are fabulous vintage photos of Harry and Winnie.
Hunting for signs of Winnie the Pooh is a fun thing to do in Winnipeg.
Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park is where you’ll find a bronze statue of Harry Colebourn and Winnie.
Harry later donated Winnie to the London Zoo and that’s where the real Christopher Robin enters the story.
Mr. Milne’s son used to visit the bear and grew to love the cuddly cub, fondly naming him Winnie-the-Pooh.
Inspiration happened and generations of children and adults have loved Pooh bear ever since.
8- Couples tie the knot in Quebec’s ice hotel each year
Every year in Quebec in winter there’s an enormous undertaking to create the country’s largest ice hotel.
Snow movers, carvers and builders shift around 400 tons of ice and 12,000 tons of snow to erect a massive ice castle.
In true Quebecois style, the interiors are smartly furnished and the ice hotel guests are kept entertained and lubricated at the ice bar.
An ice wedding chapel is very popular with brides and grooms hailing as far as Australia.
Fun Canadian Facts
Here are some weird and fun facts about Canada verging on the scientific and unexplained.
9- In Quebec and New Brunswick cars magically roll uphill
Get a cool free car tow at these hills in the east. Canada’s magnetic pull is especially apparent at these two hills in Quebec and New Brunswick.
In Moncton, New Brunswick, tourists are baffled when they put their vehicle in neutral at Magnetic Hill. Their car will be magically pulled uphill.
The same strange phenomenon happens in Chartierville, Quebec.
Drive to the bilingual sign, Cote Magnetique put on the hazard lights, look behind and give it a try.
10- Lake Manitou in Saskatchewan has healing powers
In the middle of the prairies, there’s a lake where the waters purport to be the cure-all miracle.
Locals swear Little Manitou Lake in Saskatchewan has special healing powers.
Legends even suggest a pile of crutches was left by the shoreline by those whose ailments were magically cured.
Don’t even try to hit the bottom of the lake as this bottomless salty tasting lake makes everyone float.
Submerged in a natural setting, folks venture to Little Manitou Lake to give this outdoor spa a try.
It might be salty, stinky and sludgy but beach-goers do enjoy slathering on the mud for a good old-fashioned mud bath.
11- Canada is home to legendary monsters
Canada’s Big Three would be the perfect stars for a horror movie.
There’s the rarely seen Sasquatch (or Bigfoot), a black hairy beast akin to a monster guerrilla that lurks in the backcountry of British Columbia.
There’s lots of folklore surrounding Bigfoot, along with some alleged sightings among them dating as early as 1864.
Legend says a fur trader and his party were in the Fraser River Canyon and attacked by ‘hairy humanoids which threw rocks at them.’
Most likely, drinking the moonshine helped contribute to this bizarre observation.
British Columbia has another monster, the Ogopogo, a mysterious sea serpent resembling Scotland’s Loch Ness Monster.
BC’s beastie lives in Lake Okanagan. The local Salish Native people call it Naitaka meaning ‘lake demon.’
If you can’t spot him (nobody really has) don’t worry. You can visit Kelowna’s city park to grab a selfie with the popular Ogopogo statue.
Quebec also lays claim to its version of Nessie. Memphre, the long neck lake monster apparently lurks in Lake Memphremagog, a vast sea-like lake that straddles the Canadian-U.S. border bookended by two picture pretty towns Magog in Quebec and Newport, Vermont.
Interesting Facts About Canada
12- Ontario is the birthplace of Blackberry
Before the iPhone became all the rage, there was a world of Blackberry users who were committed to this brand of mobile device.
Heads of state and nobility were even known to clutch the tiny thin black wireless technology in their hand.
Most Blackberry users would not have cared that the wee phone that connected them as they roamed the world is actually a homegrown Canadian invention.
The company is Research in Motion headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario.
13- The inventor of the telephone lived in Ontario
You might be used to getting those phone messages and texts to “please call home”.
However, the smartphones we now use would not have been invented if not for the brilliance of the father of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell.
Born in Scotland, Bell moved to the small Canadian town of Brantford, Ontario with his parents and at the age of 27, he invented the telephone.
History buffs and invention enthusiasts are lucky that Canada has a few spots from which to admire and reflect on Bell’s life.
Visit his homestead, now a historic site in Brantford, and see the Alexander Graham Bell Historic Site in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
14- Canadian lumberjacks
Many Canadians would remember the Log Driver’s Waltz.
This classic short animation from the National Film Board’s archives features a moment in time when Canada’s log drivers hopped onto and steered rough-hewn logs downriver.
For more woodsman stuff head to an annual lumberjack festival, like the West Coast Lumberjack Show in British Columbia, which has a Braveheart feel with lots of log pole flinging, chainsaw carving, axe throwing and log rolling.
15- The Group of Seven Artists painted the Canadian Shield
In the remote wilderness of Canada, a group of seven artists struck out to paint the Canadian landscape filled with paper birch and haunting jack pines clinging to the granite bedrock known as the Canadian Shield.
The paintings have become iconic masterpieces embedded into the Canadian psyche.
To see a painting from one of them is to contemplate the natural beauty of this nation.
16- Hockey Night in Canada is as popular as date night
Stompin’ Tom Connors, another vintage Canadian, got his name from stompin’ on a square piece of plywood that he always carried with him while performing his homegrown classics like “Bud the Spud.”
Canada’s beloved chanteur also wrote the lyrics to “The Good Old Hockey Game” which has gone on to become our unofficial hockey anthem.
Listen to the song and you’ll know what I mean.
Hockey Night is part of Canadian life.
The highly anticipated NHL game played every Saturday night pits teams in a struggle to win what many sports writers call ‘the hardest trophy in all of sports.’
Winning the Stanley Cup is every hockey player’s dream.
17- The red canoe is a symbol of early explorers
One of the most iconic images of Canada is the red canoe.
The canoe was the vehicle that explored and opened up this vast country.
The First Nations used paper birch canoes that became a vital tool for the early explorers from France who called them rabaskas.
Nowadays, many establishments use the canoe as a symbol.
One of Toronto’s chi-chi restos has this name.
One of the best places to paddle in a red canoe is on beautiful Lake Louise in Alberta.
18- Canada’s Olympic curling team is the best in the world
Don’t think watching a pair of men or women sweeping a polished granite rock down the ice and hearing their team members yell ‘Hard, hurry hard’ is a boring pastime.
In fact, curling is a winter Olympic sport and if Team Canada doesn’t win gold every four years there is a national day of mourning.
Fun fact: To this date, no Olympic curling team has dominated the sport like Canada.
19- The skidoo was invented in Quebec
In the old days when this winter vehicle was first invented in Quebec, it was dubbed the skidoo.
The wondrous people mover with an engine on skis is known more these days as a snowmobile but the term skidoo is a very vintage name and machine.
Come winter time, head to Canada’s backcountry powder to embark on the snowmobile trails.
The most popular skidoo spots are in the winter wonderland of Quebec but every province has them.
20- Canada’s national police are known as Mounties
Dudley Doo Right may have appealed to kids of a certain generation but the red-coated hat-wearing cartoon character with his pal Bullwinkle was actually a spoof on Canada’s national police known as the Royal Mounted Police.
Popular spots to view Mounties are Parliament Hill in Ottawa and Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General. You’ll also see them officiating at parades and ceremonies.
The Mounties have a wonderful Sunset Ceremony in Ottawa that features the famous RCMP Musical Ride.
Ilona Kauremszky is an award-winning freelance writer who lives in Toronto and has travelled extensively throughout Canada.
Now isn’t Canada cool? Here are some Canadian destinations for your bucket list:
- Things to do in Niagara Falls
- The Icefields Parkway
- Canadian ski resorts
- Canadian wildlife experiences
- Canada’s national parks
- Sugar shacks in Quebec