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Old 10-27-2006, 02:05 PM   #1
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The Great White North

The Great White North, or Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Canada (But Were Afraid to Ask)



What's happenin' eh? We've got quite a load of Canuckleheads around here, and a lot of ignorance about this beautiful country, so ask away after this fantastic presentation of facts about our home and native land.

The Basics



Canada is divided politically into ten provinces and three territories. Going from east to west, the provinces are:
Newfoundland & Labrador (abbreviated NL)
Nova Scotia (NS)
Prince Edward Island (PEI)
New Brunswick (NB)
Quebec (PQ - Province du Québec)
Ontario (ON)
Manitoba (MB)
Saskatchewan (SK)
Alberta (AB)
British Columbia (BC)

And the territories (again, east to west) are:
Nunavut (NT/NU - Canada Post uses NT for now, but is switching to NU to avoid confusion)
Northwest Territories (NT)
Yukon (YT/YK)

Canada's capital is in Ottawa, Ontario.

Geography
Canada is surrounded on three sides by three different oceans, and is in fact the country with the longest ocean coast in the world. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, the north the Arctic Ocean, and west is the Pacific Ocean. To the south Canada shares a border with the United States, most of which lies on the 49th Parallel (from northwestern Ontario to the Pacific Ocean). Canada is extremely diverse in just about every way, including geography. The eastern and central parts of Canada are primarily forested, and the east coast is fairly flat with only the tiniest piece of the northernmost Appalachian Mountains in New Brunswick and Quebec providing the highest points east of Alberta. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are known as the Prairie Provinces, and although these three provinces aren't entirely prairie, they are mostly flat plains with extremely fertile soil, the same type of land one would find in the Great Plains of America. This region is sometimes known (more so in the past than now) as the "Breadbasket of Canada" for the enormous wheat crops (among other crops) grown there. The western part of Alberta and nearly all of British Columbia are dominated by the Rocky Mountains, by far the highest peaks in the nation. The coastal regions of BC are usually very wet and mild, similar to the Pacific Northwest of the US. Up north, there's about an equal mix of forest and tundra, and the farther north you get the more permafrost exists. Canada reaches all the way to the North Pole and owns most of the Arctic Ocean.

History
Canada was settled by native peoples long before America ever was, being nearly directly across the Bering Sea from Asia (although Alaska is in the way). The first European contact came from Vikings, who explored the coast of Labrador and set up a permanent settlement at L'Anse-Aux-Meadows in Newfoundland around the year 1000 AD. Battles with disease and the native Beothuk peoples already living there took their toll, and the Vikings were gone within a couple of generations. The next European contact came in 1497, when John Cabot landed either on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia or on Newfoundland (depending on who you believe). Further exploration came in the 16th Century from Frenchmen Jacques Cartier (who discovered the St. Lawrence River) and Samuel de Champlain (who explored the interior). Indeed, it was Champlain who set up the first European settlement in 600 years. He first tried at St. Andrews in New Brunswick and Port Royal in Nova Scotia in 1603 and 1605, respectively. These settlements failed for much the same reasons as the Viking settlements, but the first successful colony was established in modern-day Quebec City (known as the Habitation) in 1608.


Samuel De Champlain

The English soon followed suit and began establishing colonies of their own in Ontario and the Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick), although the French also laid claim to Maritime lands (and called the colony Acadia in comparison to New France in Quebec). Eventually European wars spilled over into North America, resulting in constant battle between the English and French. The English founded the important port city of Halifax, NS (my hometown!) in 1749, to counter the massive French fortress at Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island. The French and Indian War (known in Europe as the Seven Years' War) broke out in 1754. Acadia had become part of the British colonies in 1713 as part of the Treaty of Utrecht, and in 1755 the British, fearful of former French Acadian colonists supporting the French (although for the most part the Acadians didn't really care about the war, and just wanted to be left alone), began what is known to the Acadians as "Le Grand Dérangement", or The Expulsion in English. Thousands of Acadians were forcibly removed from their homes, their towns were razed to the ground, and most were shipped back to France, with some going to other French colonies such as Louisiana and the Caribbean. The British decided to try to remove French presence in Canada once and for all, and went right for the heart of New France - Quebec City itself. In 1759, after a protracted blockade, the English landed just south of the city, climbed the cliffs and fought a large battle on the Plains of Abraham in only half an hour. Both British General Wolfe and French General Montcalm were mortally wounded during the battle, and the death of Wolfe is immortalised in one of the most famous military paintings of all time, The Death of General Wolfe, by Benjamin West. The British took the city, which was the capital of New France, and also took Montreal a year later without firing a shot. The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, signalling the end of the Seven Years' War and the handover of all French possessions in North America to the British (except two tiny islands called St. Pierre and Miquelon just offshore of Newfoundland). This is probably the single most defining period in the history of Canada.


The Death of General Wolfe, by Benjamin West

The British were now faced with a French Catholic province in a British Protestant colony, so they passed the Quebec Act in 1774, which ensured the toleration of French customs. This pacified the French colonists, but only served to piss off the British colonists further south in America, and helped spur the American Revolution. After the Revolution, thousands of colonists loyal to the British left the United States and moved north into Canada, primarily settling in New Brunswick and Ontario. These settlers are known as Loyalists and their fierce loyalty to the Crown prevented Canada from becoming part of the US (the Articles of Confederation, America's predecessor to the Constitution, actually stipulated that Canada could enter the Union at any time it wanted to without any recourse to the British). In 1791, the British passed the Constitution Act, dividing the colony into Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (most of Quebec) to separate the French and English populations. During the War of 1812 between the British and United States, attacks by Americans on Lower Canadian towns served to unite the colonies under the Crown, and it finally buried any chance of Canada becoming an American state. The Act of Union in 1840 combined both Canadas into one colony once again, known as the United Province of Canada. The population by this time was expanding rapidly, as waves of European immigrants from nearly every country were starting to come, and with the construction of railway lines they moved west for the abundant and cheap (and fertile) land of the Prairies. Gold rushes in the Yukon and BC brought people over the Rockies, and finally the colonies stretched coast-to-coast (although the colony of Canada itself was still only Quebec and Ontario - the western areas were known as Rupert's Land and the Colony of British Columbia). The large population by this time was starting to demand self-representation, and conferences were established to discuss the possiblity of Confederation as a separate nation. In 1867, this became a reality. Lower and Upper Canada as well as two of the three Maritime provinces (NB and NS) were combined to form the new nation of Canada. Canada's government was based on the British system of Parliament and loyalty to the crown. Canada was ruled by a Governor-General, the representative of the British monarch (and still is today), but generally was allowed to run its own affairs through Parliament. The first Prime Minister was one of Confederation's biggest supporters, Sir John A. MacDonald, a Scottish immigrant (but also an extreme drunkard - a theme in Canadian History).


The Right Honourable Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister.

The new nation faced challenges right from the start. Métis (people of mixed European and Native blood) demanded representation, and, under the leadership of Louis Riel, began the Red River Rebellion. This led to the creation of the province of Manitoba in 1870, Canada's first post-Confederation addition. British Columbia joined in 1871, and Prince Edward Island (where the first conference to discuss Confederation was held in Charlottetown in 1863) joined in 1873. Alberta and Saskatchewan, once havens for criminals, were pacified by the creation of the North West Mounted Police (what would later become the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, commonly called Mounties - Canada's national police force - the guys who wear the red suits on parade) and both became provinces in 1905.


Mounties in dress uniform, known as the Red Serge.

Canada was drawn into World War One when the British mobilised, and this was Canada's first major international conflict (Canadian units were sent to fight in the Boer War, but not in very big numbers). Canadian troops led the charge in many of the most famous battles on the Western Front, including Passchendaele, Ypres, and most famously up Vimy Ridge (the British and French had both tried and failed for months to take the ridge, but the Canadians took it in one morning on their first try with less than half the casualties). These victories gained Canada international recognition as a middle world power in its own right. World War II also saw Canada fighting on the Allied side, and the country was a big supplier of men and materiel to the British. This pulled the country out of the Depression and spurred a massive industrial and patriotic movement across Canada. By the end of the war, Canada had again distinguished herself, being responsible for the raid on Dieppe in 1942, its own landing beach on D-Day in Normandy in 1944, and the liberation of Holland in 1945. Newfoundland, previously a distinct British colony, finally joined Confederation after the war in 1949 as the British Empire broke down. Immigration from Europe skyrocketed after the war was over and led to the creation of a welfare state and the innovation of socialized medicine in the late 40s and early 50s. Canada celebrated its centennial in 1967 with Expo '67 in Montreal (the World's Fair). The Olympics came to Canada for the first time in 1976, also in Montreal. In 1980, Terry Fox undertook his famous cross-Canada run for cancer research. Canada finally became completely independent from Britain in 1982, when the Queen and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau agreed to repatriate the constitution from Britain. Previously, the country had been governed under the British North America Act of 1867, by which the British held final control over Canada but left it to generally do its own thing. Canada now had its own proper Constitution as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the basic human rights of all Canadian citizens.


The signing ceremony repatriating the Canadian Constitution. Queen Elizabeth II is seated at the table, and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau stands at the right of the group of three men standing left of the table (incidentally, the guy in the middle, Jean Chrétien, would become Canada's Prime Minister from 1993-2004).

Some Quebeckers in the 70s and early 80s began to think about their place in Canada, and many decided that Quebec (as the only majority French province) should be sovereign from the rest of the majority English nation. A referendum on sovereignty was held in 1980 which was soundly defeated, but in 1995 another referendum was held, which was just barely defeated by a margin of 50.6% voting to stay in canada, and 49.4% voting to separate. Canada is currently undergoing a period of major change again, after 13 years of Liberals being in power the Conservatives under Stephen Harper won power this year. Harper is currently trying to reform the Senate as well as introduce electoral reforms.

Government Facts
Canada is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is nominally the head of state (although she has very little actual power over the country) and is represented by a Governor-General (currently Michaelle Jean) who signs bills into law and is the commander-in-chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. The government is run by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, made up of departments (run by Ministers - the Cabinet members) each with their own responsibilities (Fisheries and Oceans, Health, Labour, etc.). The Prime Minister is the leader of the federal party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons during a general election; currently the Prime Minister is Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party won the most votes in the last election. The Prime Minister has the power to appoint all of his Cabinet ministers as well as the Governor-General, the Senate, and the Supreme Court of Canada. There are two houses in the Canadian Parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate. The House is made up of elected members from across the country, while the Senate is entirely appointed by the Prime Minister (although this may change, important Senate reform bills are making their way through Parliament now which would result in the election of senators). The Senate acts theoretically as a check on the House, although most of the time the Senate just rubber-stamps House bills and sends them to the G-G for final approval. The Senate is also, since it is appointed by the PM, a place for plum political patronage appointments and cronyism, since senators receive massive salaries and only work a very short time each year. Senators are often members of the governing party being rewarded for their service, which has led to ineffectiveness and corruption over the years. The House of Commons is elected at least every five years, and there are currently four parties with seats in the House.

Cultural
Being very closely tied both geographically and historically to the United States and Great Britain, Canadian culture is an amalgam of both cultures with a lot of uniqueness thrown in, too. But the sheer size of the country assures that there are some big differences in regional culture, too. I'm from Nova Scotia (and have actually only left the Maritimes five times in my entire life), so I can really only attest to Maritime culture with any certainty. We've got Westerners, Newfies, and Upper Canadians here on the forums too, so I'll let them take their respective parts of the country and inform you about the Maritimes.

Maritime Culture
The words "Maritime culture" sound more like the culture of an ocean rather than of land, but our provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) are surrounded on three sides (and in PEI's case, all four) by water, and it's profoundly shaped this area's people. Most folks tend to think of us as small, sparsely-populated fishermen, farmers, or miners. That actually is often the case in the more rural parts of the area but the cities are just as vibrant and diverse as any you'll find elsewhere in the world. Major cities are Halifax (~400,000 pop.), Moncton (120,000), Saint John (120,000), Sydney (known as the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, with 110,000 people), Fredericton (80,000), and Charlottetown (60,000).

Maritime culture is bound by tradition. You can go anywhere in Nova Scotia and see a well-preserved tradition of what the place would have been like in colonial times. Any bar in downtown Halifax will usually have a Celtic-style cover band playing at least one night a week. Cape Breton is the nexus of this tradition, though, and it is where you can hear music that sounds like it's straight out of the Scottish Highlands, played on traditional instruments. Or, you could visit the North Shore of New Brunswick and hear traditional Acadian music and traditions being upheld.

Music is probably the single most defining characteristic of Maritime culture. Like I said, there's great variation and tradition in styles. Bagpipes are a regular sound across Halifax and Cape Breton, and Acadian music is played wherever there are Acadians (typically the North Shores of both New Brunswick and PEI, the Fundy shore of Nova Scotia and parts of Cape Breton). The Mi'Kmaq native peoples also have a big influence on music, and many traditional ceremonies are performed in public areas, especially during the summer (read: tourist season). Most of the Gaelic culture that once stretched across the region is now confined to pockets in Cape Breton. But we aren't entirely traditionalists, and a lot of bands and artists you may have heard of you'd never know came from the Maritimes, such as:
Sloan (Halifax)
April Wine (Waverley, NS - a suburb of Halifax and the next town over from mine)
Mir
In-Flight Safety
The Rankin Family
Rita McNeil
Anne Murray
The Joel Plaskett Emergency
Matt Mays & El Torpedo
The Trews
Sandbox (featuring Mike Smith on guitar - later to become Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys)
Matt Minglewood
Terry Clark
George Canyon
Classified
Skratch Bastid
Kaleb Simmonds
Universal Soul
Thrush Hermit
Buck 65

And many, many others.

We also have a great tradition of dance, theatre, literature, and art here, too. Admittedly, I'm not as well-versed in these aspects of our culture, although I do know that world-famous artist Alex Colville is from Wolfville, NS (and actually lived two doors down from me until I moved to Halifax at 2 years old).

Lately, the beer companies Alexander Keith's ( ) and Moosehead have been using a lot of folkloric cultural imagery in their promotions, and a lot of people now associate the culture of Nova Scotia in particular with Keith's beer, because they are usually the major sponsor of just about every major concert or sporting event that comes through here.

Sports
Hockey, hockey, hockey. That's about all Canada is known for internationally, but we've got some other sports here that we're pretty good at, too. Hockey was invented in Nova Scotia in a small town known as Windsor, and we've owned it ever since. Canada holds 13 Olympic hockey medals, seven of which are gold. Lacrosse was invented in Canada too, by the native peoples who lived here. Many of the European settlers joined in the game and now it's played across the country. We've had Olympic champions in just about every sport and we've even hosted two Olympics, a Summer games in Montreal in 1976 and a Winter games in Calgary in 1988. Vancouver is set to host the Winter Olympics in 2010. Canada also holds strong teams in women's soccer and baseball in particular.

Other Trivia
- Canada's flag is a red maple leaf on a white background with two red stripes on either side.
- Canada was ranked the #1 country in the world to live in by the UN 10 years out of 16 lists between 1980 and 2004.
- Contrary to South Park, Canada has never been taken over by Iraq, nor has Celine Dion ever succeeded in saving the nation. Terence and Philip are not accurate representations of the average Canadian. (or are they?)

I think that's all I've got for now - this turned out to be massive compared to what I was planning on, but that's okay. I hope it taught somebody something. If there's any other questions about the Great White North, feel free to ask away! I'll answer them to the best of my ability, and I'm sure other Canadians around here will be willing to answer, too.

But for now, I'm taking a break. My fingers hurt.

O Canada
Our home and native land
True patriot love
In all thy sons command
With glowing hearts we see thee rise
The true north strong and free
From far and wide, O Canada
We stand on guard for thee
God keep our land
Glorious and free
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee




Brings a tear to this hoser's eye.

Give'r!
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:09 PM   #2
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Thanks for this information...

I'm well-informed now
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:10 PM   #3
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That's the idea.
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:37 PM   #4
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Excellent!

And for a more humorous look at our country, I suggest reading "How To Be A Canadian (Even If You Already Are One)" by Will and Ian Ferguson. It's a classic, and well worth reading. http://www.amazon.ca/Canadian-Even-A...e=UTF8&s=books
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:45 PM   #5
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Re: The Great White North

Quote:
Originally posted by DaveC
Canada is a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is nominally the head of state (although she has very little actual power over the country)
That's one thing I find puzzling about Canada.
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:47 PM   #6
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Re: Re: The Great White North

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Originally posted by ntalwar


That's one thing I find puzzling about Canada.
It's sort of like the same here in Holland...


Sorry... Continue with the thread
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:50 PM   #7
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Re: Re: Re: The Great White North

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Originally posted by JanuaryStar


It's sort of like the same here in Holland...
I see. But at least the kingdom is there in the Netherlands, not like QE2 in England.
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:53 PM   #8
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Re: Re: Re: Re: The Great White North

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Originally posted by ntalwar


I see. But at least the kingdom is there in the Netherlands, not like QE2 in England.
That's true!
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Old 10-27-2006, 02:53 PM   #9
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Excellent thread, Dave.
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Old 10-27-2006, 03:11 PM   #10
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You don't have A-las-ka, and you don't get none, cause you on the well-fare.

Actually, cool thread. Being from northern MN, pretty familiar with our baby brother up 'dere.

Keep your stick on the ice, and remember, if the women don't find ya handsome, they better find you handy!

(I even get the CBC.)
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Old 10-27-2006, 03:14 PM   #11
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i learned some stuff .

I think we should have some more threads like this on other countries too!
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Old 10-27-2006, 04:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Snowlock

Keep your stick on the ice, and remember, if the women don't find ya handsome, they better find you handy!

(I even get the CBC.)
I love you.

That's even legal up here, too!
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Old 10-27-2006, 04:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by ThoraSEB


And for a more humorous look at our country, I suggest reading "How To Be A Canadian (Even If You Already Are One)" by Will and Ian Ferguson. It's a classic, and well worth reading. http://www.amazon.ca/Canadian-Even-A...e=UTF8&s=books

That book cracks my shit up.

Tis a great read, eh?
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Old 10-27-2006, 04:40 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by ~BrightestStar~



That book cracks my shit up.

Tis a great read, eh?
I just finished reading it for the umpteenth time last night.
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Old 10-27-2006, 04:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Snowlock
Keep your stick on the ice, and remember, if the women don't find ya handsome, they better find you handy!

(I even get the CBC.)
Handy men.

One of the things that the many non-Canadians I've interacted with over the years don't realize about is is what our weather/climate is like. The think that as soon as you cross the US border, you enter a frozen tundra. Think about how variable the weather is in the various areas of the US, and that's pretty much the way it is here. In my area, specifically (south-central Ontario), we can have brutal winters, very cold and snowy, or we can have very mild, nearly snow-free winters...or, it can change from one to the other in a matter of hours, practically.

Spring and fall are wildly variable here, too. Obviously, the closer it is to the preceding/following season, the more like that season's weather it'll be, but they can be both very winter-like or very summer-like. This fall so far has been cooler than normal, and very rainy.

Summers here can run from very pleasant, with lots of sun and temps around 75-ish F/low 20's C, to unbearably hot and humid. Obviously, the deeper into summer, the greater the heat and humidity, with temperatures into the 90's F/low 30's C. With the humidity factored in, temps reach into the low hundreds F/low 40's C. One day last summer, the hottest and most humid on record ever, I checked, and the only place in the world I could find that was hotter, and that was only by a degree or two, was one country in the middle east. That's right, we were hotter than Vegas, Arizona, or any other hot spot in the US. If I remember correctly, the temps that day were into the 40's C, and around 50C with humidity.

Yeah, I'm Canadian, and I obsess/bitch about the weather constantly, it's one of our favourite pasttimes. It's almost always either too hot or too cold.
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