September 22nd, 2018
Beaches Living Guide Fall/Winter 2017/18

Canada: We the North! What a Ride!

Canada, what a country! We've got the second largest land mass on the planet, blessed with plenty of water and magnificent lakes, rivers, prairies and mountains. It's not surprising that in 2017, Lonely Planet marked Canada as its number one choice for best travel destination.

Now think of Canadians, what a people! Indigenous people in our land in the far north, east and west, have stories, history and traditions that go back centuries. Each year, 250,000 people immigrate here from all corners of the globe into a welcoming environment. Thousands of Canadians can trace their immigrant roots back several generations, others have proudly just become new citizens. Cities like Toronto and Vancouver, for example, are models to the world on how to live side by side with multiple languages, religious beliefs, cultures and traditions.

Now what about our image? We've always been thought of as being polite and understated. Americans think of us for our frontier spirit and the way we say "eh". Some still think we all live in the frozen north. Around the world, we're known for things like snow, maple syrup, hockey and beautiful wilderness. The maple leaf has become the most recognized symbol of our country (after all it's on our flag). Many years ago, the first Mayor of Montreal declared the maple tree to be "the king of our forest; ... the symbol of the Canadian people." Ever since, the maple leaf has appeared on coins, coats of arms and logos as to signify "Canadian".

Canada is truly unique, beginning with the way in which the first provinces came together in 1867 in what was called "Confederation." Yes, we've had our constitutional struggles - these will continue. But unlike so many in the world, we've had peace in our land for most of our history. We've also learned how to "grow up." Although Canada remained a colony of Great Britain long after the confederation, over time we developed full independence, and eventually established our own Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Over 150 years, Canada has grown its sense of nationhood in so many ways, beyond political and constitutional. We'll never forget how Canadian troops heroically joined Britain's allies during the first and second World Wars; Canadian artists like Emily Carr and the Group of Seven inspired a global artist community, and Canadian writers such as Lucy Maud Montgomery remembered for her famous novel, 'Anne of Green Gables', Alice Munro who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, as well Margaret Laurence and Margaret Atwood gained us international recognition. We've produced world legendary musicians such as Glenn Gould and pop start Celine Dion; actors ranging from legendary Mary Pickford [PIC-see copy at the end] to Ryan Gosling, just name a few.

Our sports teams make us proud. Canada is known as a hockey powerhouse, producing the most hockey players in the NHL, also, our baseball, basketball, curling, skiing and more, have won many Olympic medals. We have contributed to many firsts on the world stage, both in science and technology with inventions like the Canadarm, used on the Space Shuttle, the discovery of Insulin by Dr. Frederick Banting at University of Toronto, and the development of the electric wheelchair.

There are truly "Canadian foods" like poutine, butter tarts, Canadian bacon (did you know? A mountain in the U.S. state of Washington is named Canadian Bacon Mountain), beaver tails and Nanaimo bars. Canadian beer is the beer of choice in pubs around the world; Canadian ice wine continually wins top awards, and Newfoundland has Screech.

We're not as young as we used to be. In fact, of all 233 countries on Earth, Canada is older than 211 of them. But for a second year in a row, the Great White North was ranked second in the annual "Best Countries" survey from the U.S. News & World Report.

As we wrap up a year of celebrations for 150 years in Canadian history, let's do so with a very loud applause for what we've accomplished and a proud cheer for everything Canadian.

Did you know?

No one could agree where to put the capital city, the location was chosen by Queen Victoria. She chose Ottawa, largely because she saw it as a neutral location at a safe distance from a possible American attack. What to call the new entity? Macdonald favoured "Kingdom of Canada". Lord Derby, UK foreign minister, feared that this would rub Canada's American neighbours the wrong way. He suggested the term "Dominion of Canada".

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