I am a proud Canadian by choice not by birth, joining one fifth of our population who came here from other countries. I am, however, the daughter of a first-generation Canadian from Montreal who grew up playing hockey on the frozen canals. A Canuck to his core, he also fought in the RCAF during World War II and played, albeit briefly, for the Montreal Canadiens along with the Quebec Aces.
I first set eyes on Canada in the summer of ’67 when visiting from England with my mother. We spent a number of weeks during a hot and sunny summer in Montreal with many forays to Expo ’67, which was spectacular. I also visited Toronto and glorious Lake of the Woods among a few other places and ultimately realized it was the first time I fell in love. Quite appropriate considering that 1967 was the “Summer of Love”. Naturally, my love story with Canada endures some 50 years later.
When putting this special celebratory issue together to commemorate Canada’s 150th birthday, it was important for me to highlight this marvelous country and showcase some of our remarkable beauty. Researching this issue has been a labour of love as I determined that, along with our faults (few at best!), we Canadians are an interesting, slightly quirky breed with a penchant for being tolerant, polite, welcoming to global travellers, accepting and progressive - all of which I am proud to state and share.
In this exploration of our land I discovered many new places and lots of facts and figures too, which many of you may know but which I, nevertheless found of interest.
We have more lakes in Canada than every other country combined. That’s quite a statement.
We have 38 national parks and eight national park reserves – more than one for every million of us (about 35 million now) – that is an impressive number.
Toronto is the 4th largest city in North America, out-pacing Chicago. And if you remove Mexico from the equation, then Toronto ranks right below NYC and LA. We have six cities with a population of over 1 million and more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup is produced here – with 91percent of that coming from Quebec.
More fun facts about our Canada that perhaps you don’t know: our forests take up 31 percent of our land and 20 percent of the world’s fresh water is found in Canada – let’s ensure we protect it! We have the longest coastline in the world at 243,977 km, Montreal is home to the 2nd-largest French speaking population after Paris, and of all the G20 countries, ours is the best in which to be a woman. We share the world’s longest international border with our American friends – and one that has no military defense.
There’s more! Of the world’s 25,000 polar bear population we are home to 15,500 of them – even more reason to be focused on climate change. We first celebrated Thanksgiving in 1578 – some 43 years before it was celebrated in the US. We boast the lake with the longest name – situated in northern Manitoba - Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik Lake, which means in Cree, “where the wild trout are caught by fishing with hooks”. We all know that we are the world’s 2nd-largest country after Russia, and that the Hudson Bay Company is the oldest chartered trading company - launched in 1670.
I trust, that as you read this issue of our magazine and enjoy the special commemorative 32-page section on all that is our Canada, the true north, strong and free, that you too will delight in our diverse and great land, in our beauty and our heritage. How could you not be proud of a land that’s free and surprising and special and one I hope you love as much as I do. It has been an honour and a privilege to put this issue of CATL together for you and to help celebrate, in some small way, our 150th birthday.
PS: As we publish our next two issues, we will include a few more articles and items about Canada during this special celebratory year of 2017. Be sure to check out our website often as many items are posted there that we do not publish in print.