1. Canada is the second largest country in the world (after Russia) by land mass.
2. Land of Lakes:Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. At last count, there may be as many as two million, with 563 lakes larger than 100 square kilometres. Canada’s largest include Lake Huron (Ontario), Great Bear Lake (Northwest Territories), and Lake Superior (Ontario). Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s fifth and the world’s 11th largest, is in Manitoba.
- Multicultural population
Canada is the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism, embracing diversity and pluralism. Today, of Canada’s total population of more than 35 million, a fifth are immigrants. In fact, based on the 2011 National Household Survey (NHS), Canada is home to people from over 200 ethnic origins. Around 4.3 per cent of the total Canadian population reported an Aboriginal identity and 19.1 per cent belong to a visible minority. The largest groups among these visible minorities are South Asians, Chinese and Africans, followed by Filipinos, Latin Americans, Arabs, Southeast Asians, West Asians, Koreans and Japanese. (Learn more about Canada’s multiculturalism here).
Canada is a Parliamentary Democracy headed by a Prime Minister. However, it is also a constitutional monarchy with executive authority vested in the Queen. This means that the Queen is the head of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of government. A parliamentary democracy has three parts: the Sovereign (Queen), the Senate, and the House of Commons. Meanwhile, the government has three levels: federal, provincial and municipal. The federal government is based in Ottawa and is headed by the Prime Minister. Provincial and territorial governments are headed by premiers, while municipal governments are led by mayors.
- Canada means “village”
The country’s name is derived from “Kanata”, a Huron-Iroquois word meaning village or settlement. Two Indian youths used this word to describe the settlement of Stadacona (now Quebec City) to European explorer Jacques Cartier. Cartier then used “Canada” to describe a bigger area beyond Stadacona. This soon spread throughout the entire region, surpassing its former name, New France.
- The maple leaf and other symbols
Did you know that it took 40 years for the Canadian parliament to finally decide on a Canadian flag? The red and white flag with the prominent maple leaf was officially launched on February 15, 1965 (making Feb. 15 National Flag of Canada Day) after much debate and rigorous study. But have you ever wondered why the maple leaf is so identified with Canada? Well, for years even prior to the coming of European settlers, aboriginal peoples have been using maple sap as a food staple. Throughout history, the leaf has found its way into Canadian coins, emblems and coats of arms. The maple tree is also very important to Canadians and is the official arboreal emblem. Incidentally, Canada continues to produce three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup output.
Meanwhile, the beaver as a national emblem dates back to the 1700s, when the lucrative trade of beaver pelts (for fur hats) put Canada on the map. The Hudson’s Bay Company honoured the animal by putting it in its coat of arms. Another Canadian symbol is the Maple Leaf Tartan designed by David Weiser which became an official symbol in 2011.
- Canada Day
Canada Day commemorates the signing of the British North America Act (today known as the Constitution Act, 1867) which created Canada. The statutory holiday is celebrated every July 1st, and was, for a time, called Dominion Day. It marks the anniversary of the confederation of three British colonies into four provinces: The United Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. To see how Canada Day is celebrated in various parts of the country, go to its official site.
- “O Canada”
Canada’s national anthem, “O Canada” was composed by Calixa Lavallee, a well-known composer, with the lyrics written by Sir Adolphe Basile-Routhier. Several versions have been made of the anthem, but the version used today was written by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer from Montreal.
- National dish: Poutine
Canada’s national dish originated from Quebec in the 1950s. Made up of a tasty mix of french fries, cheese curds and gravy, Poutine has been claimed by numerous people, but its inventor has never been confirmed. Anyway, canucks (a nickname for Canadians) have eaten the wonderful dish in more ways than one. Care for the traditional poutine? Or perhaps poutine with an international twist? How about going gourmet with foie gras poutine?
- Inventions galore
What does basketball, the pacemaker, IMAX, and the Blackberry have in common? Yes, they were all invented by Canadians. Basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian PE instructor in Massachusetts who wanted to create a game that can be played indoors during winter. Meanwhile, the first pacemaker was invented by electrical engineer John Hopps, and the IMAX (for Image Maximum) was created by Toronto-based Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, Robert Kerr and William Shaw. Lastly, the Blackberry cellphone is a product of Research in Motion (RIM), in Waterloo, Ontario. Want to know more Canadian inventions? Here are 19 things you might not know were invented in Canada.
- National pastime
Hockey is the national winter sport of Canada while lacrosse is the national summer sport. To give you an indication of how Canadians love hockey, the Canada-US Men’s Gold Hockey Game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was the most watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history according to NHL.com. Meanwhile, the women’s hockey team has also been dominating the Olympics, winning gold medals, the most recent of which was at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
The education system in Canada encompasses both publicly-funded and private schools, including: community colleges/ technical institutes, career colleges, language schools, secondary schools, summer camps, universities and university colleges.
Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution, which means there are significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces. However, education is important to Canadians, and standards across the country are uniformly high.
In general, Canadian children attend kindergarten for one or two years at the age of four or five on a voluntary basis. All children begin Grade One at about six years of age. The school year normally runs from September through the following June but in some instances, January intake dates are possible. Secondary schools go up to Grades 11 or 12, depending on the province. From there, students may attend university, college or Cégep studies. Cégep is a French acronym for College of General and Vocational Education, and is two years of general or three years of technical education between high school and university. The province of Québec has the Cégep system.
High Quality Education
Education institutions are not officially ranked in Canada, but you will find quality institutions across the country. When choosing your school in Canada, consider the type, size and location of the institution. If you are interested in a particular area of study, investigate which schools have more to offer in that discipline.
What is the difference between college and university in Canada?
Universities focus on academic and professional programs. Colleges focus more on career training and trades.
The words “college” and “university” have different meanings in different English-speaking countries. In Canada, colleges and universities are different institutions – usually, colleges have different kinds of programs than universities do.
Colleges of applied arts and technology have full-time and part-time diploma and certificate programs. Many also offer Bachelor degrees in applied areas of study.
Colleges tend to be more directly career-oriented than universities. This means they offer practical or hands-on training. Generally, a certificate program is 1 year or less, and a diploma program is 2 or 3 years.
Colleges also have pre-trades and apprenticeship training, language training and skills upgrading.
Some Ontario colleges focus on agriculture, health science, art or military programs.
Universities are institutions that can grant degrees. All universities have undergraduate (bachelor’s) degrees, and many have graduate (Master’s and doctoral) programs. Universities in Ontario are independent. Although they receive funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, each institution is self-governing and regulates its own programs, admissions and faculty.
Undergraduate degrees usually take 3-4 years to complete, if you study full-time. An “honours degree” (the fourth year) is usually required if you want to go to a graduate program (Master’s degree). Many universities allow students to combine subject areas (e.g., a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology) into a “double major.”
Many universities also offer professional programs, such as medicine, dentistry and law. In some cases, you can begin these programs after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study.
An educational institution cannot grant a degree in Ontario unless the provincial government has given it this right. There are private institutions in Ontario that have been given partial degree-granting authority. All of these schools are denominational, which means that they have a religious affiliation.