10 Mind-Boggling Facts About Canada
1.Canada’s lowest recorded temperature is as cold as Mars
One of the most common facts about Canada is that it can get pretty cold in the winter (anybody who’s ever had to chisel his or her car out of a block of ice on the way to work knows this). The average low for the month of January in Ottawa, Ont. is -14.4 C (6.1 F). That’s pretty cold! However, a temperature recorded in 1947 in Snag, Yukon makes the rest of Canada’s winter weather seem like a relaxing beach vacation. A temperature of -63 C (-81.4 F) was recorded in the small village of Snag on Feb. 3, 1947. That’s roughly the same temperature as the surface of Mars!
2.Canada has more lakes than you think
Canada has a lot of great things in abundance, like hockey players, parkas and Tim Hortons franchises. But did you know we also have more lake area than every other country in the world? It’s true. The Great White North has 563 lakes larger than 100 square kilometres. The Great Lakes alone contain about 18 per cent of the world’s fresh lake water. That’s a lot of water. Makes you wonder if all of our country’s allies are actually just thirsty.
3.Canada is bigger than the European Union
Ever had someone ask you if you know Kimberly from Vancouver or Theo from Toronto when you told them you were from St. John’s? The vastness of our great country seems to be a little known secret to outsiders. Here are some facts to put Canada’s size in perspective: It’s bigger than the entire European Union (33 times bigger than Italy and 15 times bigger than France), more than 30 per cent larger than Australia, five times as big as Mexico, three times as big as India and about the same size as 81,975 Walt Disney Worlds put together. So, in other words, no, you don’t know Kimberly or Theo!
4.Alert, Nunavut is the world’s northernmost settlement
At the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, just 817 kilometres from the North Pole, you’ll find the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world: Alert, Nunavut. It might not have malls or movie theatres but Alert is the temporary home to military and scientific personnel working in the area. The temporary home part will make sense once you see how cold this place gets: the warmest month, July, has a balmy average temperature of 3.4 C (38.1 F). By January, the coldest month, the mean temperature has plunged to -32.19 C (-26 F). No wonder they named it Alert.
5.Canada has the world’s longest coastline
If you walked and never stopped – not to eat, not to rest your feet, not to get some sleep – it would take you four and a half years to walk the length of Canada’s coastline. While our country might not conjure up images of blue waters and white sandy beaches, Canada has the world’s longest coastline, bordered on three sides by three different oceans: the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific. To put that in perspective, Canada has 202,080 of the world’s total 356,000 kilometres of oceanfront property. The only other country that even comes close is Indonesia, which has 54,716 km of coastline.
6.Canada has 10 per cent of the world’s forests
Sure, everyone knows we have a lot of trees but did you know that Canada actually has 30 per cent of the world’s boreal forest and 10 per cent of the world’s total forest cover? An incredible 396.9 million hectares of forest and other wooded land can be found across the country – about 68 per cent of Canada’s forests are coniferous. The best part of all? Most of Canada’s forest land is publicly owned.
7.Canada has the only walled city in North America
Quebec City has a special feature that makes it unique in Canada (and the U.S., for that matter): it has walls. No, really, Quebec City is the only city north of Mexico that still has fortified walls – known as the Fortifications of Quebec. First the French and later the English built up Quebec City’s fortifications between the 17th and the 19th centuries. Quebec’s entire historic district, including the ramparts, has since been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
8.Canada has more oil than you think
It’s thick, it’s sticky and Canada has an estimated 176.8 billion recoverable barrels of it. That’s right, crude bitumen – a semi-solid source of petroleum – is available in abundance in Canada’s oil sands. There’s an estimated 249.67 billion accessible barrels of the black stuff in the world and Canada has about 70.8 per cent of it – four times more than Kazakhstan and six times more than Russia.
9.Canada’s national parks are bigger than most countries
Canada is so big that even our parks are bigger than countries. Just look at Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories: not only is it a sight to behold with massive waterfalls, it’s also an incredible 30,050 square kilometres – bigger than Albania and Israel. Wood Buffalo National Park in Alberta and the Northwest Territories is even bigger at 44,807 square kilometres, which makes it bigger than Denmark and Switzerland.
10.Canada has North America’s strongest current
Get out your lifejacket and be ready for the swim of your life if you ever visit Seymour Narrows in British Columbia. The stretch of the Discovery Passage has some of the strongest tidal currents ever measured with flood speeds of 17 km/h and ebb speeds of 18 km/h.