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People & Culture

10 bonus facts about Canadian people, places and society

  • Jan 26, 2015
  • 674 words
  • 3 minutes
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Over the last few weeks I’ve been sharing a selection of my favourite stats and feats from my new book Canadian Geographic Biggest and Best of Canada: 1000 Facts & Figures (in stores now!). If you enjoy trivia, particularly Canadian trivia, or have a particular fascination with Canadian facts and accomplishments, you’ll surely enjoy my book. In the hopes of further capturing your interest, I’ve been sharing a top-10 selection of items from each category that particularly stood out for me. To conclude our mini-series, here’s some bonus facts about various Canadian people, places and things.

1. The first recorded European flag to fly in North America had the flag of England on one side and the winged-lion pennant of St. Mark of Venice on the opposite side. It flew on St. John’s Island (present-day Prince Edward Island) on June 24, 1497, planted by the crew of John Cabot.

2. “O Canada” was performed for the first time on June 24, 1880, in Quebec City. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée and the first lyrics, in French, were written by Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The tune did not become the country’s official national anthem until July 1, 1980.

3. The Order of Canada, created in 1967 in honour of the 100th anniversary of Confederation, is awarded to Canadians who demonstrate exemplary merit and achievement. Ninety people were appointed, including:

• Governor General Roland Michener, the first honourary member
• Montreal Symphony conductor Wilfrid Pelletier
• Quebec politician Thérèse Casgrain
• Author Hugh MacLennan
• Humourist Gregory Clark
• Neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield
• Former Prime Minister Louis St-Laurent
• Opera singer Pierette Alarie
• Hockey player Maurice Richard

4. Manitoba was the first province in Canada to grant woman the right to vote, in 1916. First proposed by Manitoba’s Icelandic community in the 1870s, the fight for women’s suffrage was taken up by a team of women, including Dr. Mary Crawford, Lillian Beynon Thomas and Nellie McClung.

5. The first YMCA in North America started in Montreal on November 25, 1851. When it began, the Y had strong ties to Protestant churches, but this soon changed as people from all religions were welcomed. The YMCA of Greater Montreal went on to open the first public library in the city in 1854.

6. What else other than Ontario’s Niagara Falls would appear in the first known picture of Canada? It was taken by English industrial chemist H.L. Pattinson during a visit to America. The plate on which the image of Horseshoe Falls appears is marked April 1840 on the back. A total of eight of Pattinson’s plates from this trip have been discovered, a number of which show buildings in Niagara Falls, including the Clifton Hotel, which was frequented by dignitaries of the time.

7. Talk about dining at the height of style. The Eagle’s Eye restaurant at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, British Columbia, is the country’s highest eatery. Located at the summit of the Golden Eagle Express gondola, it’s 2,350 m above sea level. Reservations are highly recommended.

8. Power to the people. The world’s first Labour Day Parade was held on April 15, 1872, in Toronto. The parade was arranged by the Toronto Trades Assembly to protest federal laws against unions and the imprisonment of 24 Toronto Typographical Union members.

9. Looking for dinosaur bones? The Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, near Drumheller, Alberta, has the largest display of dinosaurs on Earth. It’s Canada’s only museum dedicated to palaeontology. The museum, which opened September 25, 1985, is named after Joseph Burr Tyrell, who discovered the Albertosaurus in 1884, not far from the museum’s site near Kneehill Creek.

10. The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario, is home to the world’s largest collection of canoes and kayaks. Founded in 1997, the museum has more than 100 watercraft on permanent display, and its total collection of the boats numbers more than 600.


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