Thursday, 29 August 2013



We know there are many things Canadian that make us who we are, but here are more interesting Canadian-related facts you probably never knew!

1.  The Royal Canadian Mint have produced more than 52 billion coins for dozens of countries including Centavos for Cuba, kroner for Norway, and pesos for Colombia.  Their longest continuous contract for producing foreign coins is with Barbados – more than 30 years. The Winnipeg Mint is Canada's high-volume coin production powerhouse. Here, the industry's most technologically advanced processes and equipment produce up to 15 million plated coins each day for Canadian and foreign circulation.

Other TRCM Facts:
  • Take a look in your wallet. You may find a coloured Poppy coin from 2004. If so, you're holding a piece of history because it is the first coloured circulation coin in the world!

It took a while for people to get used to it. In fact, it was mistaken as a spy coin. When American defence contractors first saw the poppy coin in 2007, they examined the coin's security features and incorrectly concluded that the protective coating was being used to hide a surveillance device!
  • As most of us 'older' Canadians know, before the loonie and the toonie we used paper money for the 1 and 2 dollars.  But we bet you didn't know there is an interesting unsolved mystery... the original design for the loonie was of the voyageurs, the explorers in Canada but somehow, the mold was lost between Ottawa and Winnipeg and never recovered. Where is it? Did it fall off a truck? Nobody knows and so to prevent counterfeit money, The Royal Canadian Mint changed the design to the loonie.
  • In another cool 'first', in 2012 the mint produced 'Glow in the Dark' dinosaur coins.

2. Ketchup Chips was first introduced in Canada.
Lays Ketchup Chips, to be specific, is a Canadian novelty that is often overlooked. But long-time potato chip aficionados know the addictive flavour of Lay’s ketchup chips can only be found in the Great White North.
Sheri Morgan, communications manager for PepsiCo Foods Canada, confirms that ketchup chips were invented and only available in Canada, but says the story of how they came to be has been lost. (It’s probably worth noting that ketchup-flavoured chips are sold by other companies in the U.S.) According to Morgan, more than the recipe is Canadian. The chips are made at one of six PepsiCo plants in Canada, and Canadian potatoes are used in a process that takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.

Another Fact:  Loblaws, Canada's largest food retailer, offers several unusual flavours under its Presidents Choice brand, including: Jamaican Jerk Chicken, Greek Feta and Olive, Ballpark Hot Dog, and Barbeque Baby Back Ribs, among others.

Photo credit: The Original Maple Bat Corporation
3.  The Original Maple Bat Corporation, founder, Sam Holman, was the first to use maple, a significantly harder wood than ash, to create a major league sanctioned bat in 1997. Since prototype testing in 1996, he realized that he had a bat that was tougher and would last longer than the ash bat traditionally in use. Having met the original goal of introducing a maple wood baseball bat to the major leagues, it remains their goal to use the best maple they can buy in all of their Sam Bats. They control the cutting for straightness of grain and kiln dry it in house, (located at Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada, just outside of Ottawa, Canada’s Capital City), and reject any wood that is not suitable for making the highest quality bat.
In 2012, more than 100 Major League Baseball players chose to swing these Canadian maple wood bats. Sam Bat was also named the official bat of The Australian Baseball Federation (ABF) in 2012.

Lentil soup
Photo by Flickr user  Back to the Cutting Board

4. Lentils are relatively tolerant to drought, and are grown throughout the world. The FAO reported that the world production of lentils for calendar year 2009 was 3.917 million metric tonnes, primarily coming from Canada, India, Turkey and Australia.
But did you know - Canada is the largest exporter of green lentils in the world - about 1.5 million metric tonnes annually, with 95% of it coming from Saskatchewan?

5.  There's a small town in Northern Ontario that goes by the name SWASTIKA, Ontario.  It was named after the Swastika Gold Mine staked in the autumn of 1907 and incorporated on January 6, 1908.

The provincial government tried changing the name during WWII times to "Winston" after the great Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, but the town refused, insisting that the town had held the name long before the Nazis co-opted the swastika symbol (卐). Residents of Swastika used to tell the story of how the Ontario Department of Highways would erect new signs on the roads at the edge of the town. At night the residents would tear these signs down and put up their own signs proclaiming the town to be "Swastika".

Even today, modern day residents have continued to resist a change.

6. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with a total length of 202,080 kilometres (125,570 mi); additionally, its border with the United States is the world's longest land border, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi).

  • Canada has around 31,700 large lakes, more than any other country, containing much of the world's fresh water. WASAGA BEACH, in Southern Ontario, is home to the world's longest fresh water beach spanning 14 km (8.6 mile)!
  • The world’s largest skating rink can be found in the heart of downtown Ottawa on the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Rideau Canal Skateway  is 7.8 kilometres long!

7.   Banff National Park, Canada's oldest national park, has the most numerous and varied wildlife crossing structures in the world. Located in Calgary, Alberta, it also supports the world’s longest, year-round monitoring program and largest data set on wildlife mitigation.

Trans-Canada Highway in Alberta, Canada,
in the Banff National Park, between Banff and Lake Louise

Head west on the Trans-Canada Highway from the town of Banff and before you reach Lake Louise you’ll drive under two unusual tree-covered overpasses. They are 50 metres wide, cost over a million dollars each, and are here solely for use by the park’s wildlife.

Overpasses, a 2.4-metre tall highway fence and 22 underpasses have reduced wildlife road kill and collisions by more than 80 per cent. The overpasses are designed so animals cannot see the highway when crossing.

  • In 2012, eleven species of large mammals have been recorded using wildlife crossings more than 143,000 times since 1996. This includes grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and more recently wolverine and lynx.
  • There is a "learning curve" for animals to begin using wildlife crossings after construction. For wary animals like grizzly bears and wolves, it may take up to five years before they feel secure using newly built crossings. Elk were the first large species to use the crossings, even using some while they were under construction!
  • Research has shown that grizzly bears, elk, moose and deer prefer wildlife crossings that are high, wide and short in length, including overpasses. Black bears and cougars seem to prefer long, low and narrow crossings.
  • Once completed in 2014, there will be 38 wildlife underpasses and six overpasses from Banff National Park’s east entrance to the border of Yoho National Park.

8.  It's about a one hour drive north from Winnipeg to the Narcisse Snake Dens - home to possibly the world's largest congregation of red-sided garter snakes.

Each year from late April through May, a visit to the Interlake Region of Manitoba, Canada could take you to an area that some call “One of the Wonders of the Natural World.” Researchers estimate that between 100,000 and 150,000 red-sided garter snakes spend the winter months within the area known as the Narcisse Snake Dens every year, making them among largest congregations of any vertebrate species on Earth.

9.  Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump is the actual name of a Provincial Park in Alberta.

For almost 6,000 years native North Americans successfully hunted whole herds of bison by stampeding them over cliffs. Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump is considered the oldest and best preserved jump site. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981. The hunt involved young men dressed in buffalo skins coralling a herd along a route bordered with stone cairns, funneling them over the precipice.

In Blackfoot, the name for the site is Estipah-skikikini-kots. According to legend, a young Blackfoot wanted to watch the buffalo plunge off the cliff from below, but was buried underneath the falling buffalo. He was later found dead under the pile of carcasses, where he had his head smashed in.

10.  Alberta is the only province in Canada—as well as one of the few places in the world—that is
free of Norwegian rats - one of the best known and most common rats found all over the world. Since the early 1950s, the Government of Alberta has operated a rat-control program, which has been so successful that only isolated instances of wild rat sightings are reported, usually of rats arriving in the province aboard trucks or by rail.

In 2006, Alberta Agriculture reports zero findings of wild rats; the only rat interceptions have been domesticated rats that have been seized from their owners. It is illegal for individual Albertans to own or keep Norwegian rats of any description; the animals can be kept in the province by only zoos, universities and colleges, and recognized research institutions. In 2009, several rats were found and captured, in small pockets in southern Alberta, putting Alberta's rat-free status in jeopardy.

Like the great armies of history, the Alberta rat hunters are aided in their policing efforts by features of the natural landscape: boreal forests in the north, the Rocky Mountains in the west, and vast prairie to the south (whose low human populations do not allow human-dependent rats to survive).

"Made In Canada" Photo credit: Flickr user Scott Kinmartin


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