Teaching with Stamps: Primary resources for teaching America’s history and heritage.
Big, beautiful, and sprawling, our neighbor to the north – Canada – is a nation rich in diversity, history, and nature. July First is Canada Day, commemorating the date when Canada earned her independence in 1867 from Great Britain through the British North America Act.
Before Europeans arrived, Canada, like America, was populated by many aboriginal tribes. Canada’s name derives from the Huron Iroquois word for “settlement”: kanata. Canada was colonized by both the British and the French in the 19th century. By 1841, Upper and Lower Canada (Ontario and Quebec) were made a single province. In time, Canadians began to rally for a defense system, national railroad system, and a way out of conflict between France and England. All these were granted when Canada was made its own autonomous nation. And then, like its southern neighbor, the country expanded rapidly. Within two years, it acquired the vast territories previously owned by the fur trading Hudson’s Bay Company, and later, it gained control of Prince Edward Island and massive Manitoba. By 1885, the newly finished Canadian Pacific Railway allowed for settlement west, and Canada saw a migration and growth similar to her neighbor’s own “Manifest Destiny.”
Today, Canada is one of the most powerful nations in the Western World, governed by a federal parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarchy. That means the titular head (in name only) of Canada is the reigning King or Queen of Great Britain – today, Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth has a governor-general to represent her; currently that man is David Johnston. In practice, legislation is done through the Parliament of Canada. Canada also has a Prime Minister (today, that man is Stephen Harper), who usually represents the majority party in Parliament.
Canada’s capital is Ontario. Its estimated population is over 33 million, but as the world’s second largest nation by land area, Canada has a distinct identity of wide, open wilderness. What else is there to know about Canada? Check out our trivia!
- Canada’s border with the US is over 5,500 miles long, making it the longest international border shared between the same two countries.
- Canada is composed of 10 Provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Newfoundland & Labrador) and three Territories (the Northwest Territory, Yukon, and Nunavut).
- Since colonial times, the maple leaf has long become a symbol of Canada and Canadian society. It now graces the national flag.
- Canada covers six different time zones.
- Canada boasts the world’s longest coastline at over 125,500 miles.
- Inside Toronto’s Rogers Centre, you will find the largest Sony big screen in the world; it’s over 3,600 square feet!
- The US (unsuccessfully) tried to invade Canada twice, before she was an independent nation (in 1775 and 1812).
- In 2010, Canada hosted the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Canada also set a record for winning the most gold medals by one nation in a Winter Olympic series.
- The iconic “Mountie” is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s federal police force.
- Ice hockey is Canada’s official national wintertime sport. The modern version of the game was perfected there, and Canada consistently excels at it in international competition. Hockey is considered by many to be Canada’s national pastime.