150 things to know about Canada on its sesquicentennial anniversary

On the occasion of the country's 150th birthday, here are 150 things to know about Canada…  

  1. Today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is one of the world’s most popular political leaders.
  2. Justin Trudeau emerged out of the shadows and into the political spotlight when delivering the eulogy at his father’s funeral, the late Pierre Elliot Trudeau in September 2000.
  3. The four pallbearers at the funeral were Justin Trudeau, the Aga Khan, former President Jimmy Carter, and…the late Cuban autocrat Fidel Castro.
  4. Justin Trudeau’s brother, Alexandre Trudeau, is a fearless filmmaker, who was Embedded in Baghdad before, during, and after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
  5. While Justin is a social media star, his father was the true showman, who once famously pirouetted behind Queen Elizabeth’s back.
  6. In fact, this was just one of many colourful moments. To this day in Canada to give the ‘Pierre Trudeau salute’ means something, very interesting…
  7.  And who can forget the moment featuring the Rolling Stones, the paparazzi, and the Prime Minister.
  8.  However, the elder Trudeau also did some amazing things for Canada. For starters, until 1982 when he brought it back to Canada, the constitution was effectively governed by the Queen of England.
  9.  That same year he pushed through the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
  10.  This protection of Canadian rights and diversity did not emerge overnight. Back in 1971, the elder Trudeau declared the new Canadian multiculturalism policy.
  11.  Four years earlier, in 1967, Pierre Trudeau uttered these famous words: “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation,” when he decriminalised homosexuality in sweeping changes to the criminal code.
  12.  It took Canada until 2005 to legalize same-sex marriage, being the first nation outside of Europe and fourth in the world to do so.
  13.  However, while things were eventful under Pierre Trudeau they were also turbulent. He suspended civil liberties during the ‘October Crisis’ in 1970 when he invoked the ‘War Measures Act’ after a provincial cabinet minister was kidnapped by separatist militants.
  14.  He also enacted theNational Energy Program in the 1980s which effectively federalized revenues from energy resources in Alberta, creating long-term hostility towards the federal Liberal Party in the years to come in Western Canada.
  15. Trudeau was also an antagonist to separatist ambitions in Quebec, delivering two fiery speeches, one in 1980, and another in 1995 to thwart referendums for independence. 
  16.  All in all, the elder Trudeau served for 15 years but he wasn’t the longest-serving Prime Minister. That would be William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served for 21 years.
  17.  In second place was the founding Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, who served for 18 years — and who also had a bit of a drinking problem.
  18.  When Canada was founded in 1867, there were only four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
  19.  In fact, it was not until 1949 that the last province, Newfoundland joined Canada, and that was only after a barely won referendum.
  20.  Canada also has three Territories: the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut, the latter being formed in 1999.
  21.  The country is extremely ‘big’, the second largest in the world with over 2 million lakes, among other things.
  22.  But, 75% of Canadians actually live within 100 miles of the U.S.-Canada border.
  23.  This may be one of the reasons why the U.S.-Canada economic relationship is the largest in the world, estimated to total US$630 billion in 2016 alone.
  24.  Close to 30,000 trucks cross the border every single day between the two countries.
  25.  While things are rosy today, it wasn’t always so. During the War of 1812, the Canadas, as the British colonies were known then, went to battle with the U.S., ultimately burning down the White House on August 24, 1814.
  26.  War was quite frequent back then due to competing French, British, and American ambitions. After fierce fighting, the 1763 Treaty of Paris essentially gave the British control over much of French Canadian land.
  27.  In addition, one cannot forget that much of Canadian land belonged to the First Nations, who have been marginalised, ostracised, occupied, and colonised throughout much of Canadian history.
  28. During Canada’s first years, a group of people called the Metis who were ethnically mixed between First Nations and European descent, rose up in rebellion, ultimately establishing a short-lived provisional government in 1870.
  29.  The leader of that rebellionLouis Riel was ultimately ranked as the 11th Greatest Canadian.
  30.  That battle was only one of many for the acknowledgment of the rights of First Nations. One of the worst stains on Canadian history was the residential school system that at one point put a third of all First Nations children under the care of the state.
  31. Thousands of students died, and much more were subject to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse.
  32.  While today, people acknowledge some of these aspects of history, the fight is not over. One of the scandals that were a campaign issue for Justin Trudeau, was the plight of up to 4,000 missing or murdered aboriginal women.
  33. Canada’s history has not always been one of inclusivity. The Chinese Exclusion or Immigration Act of 1923 effectively banned immigrants of Chinese origin.
  34.  This was a culmination of violence and protests against immigrants from East and South Asia, including riots in 1907 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
  35.  Today, whites are expected to become a minority in Vancouver by 2031 (although I suspect this has already happened).
  36.  20.6% of Canadians are foreign-born today and 19.1% identify themselves as visible minorities. 3% of the population identifies as Muslim.
  37.  There are more Sikhs in the Canadian Cabinet than there are in India’s government (4 versus 2).
  38.  It was not until the 1940s, however, that Sikhs truly received voting rights.
  39.  Canadian women achieved the right to vote around the same time as women in the U.S. in the late 1910s.
  40.  Canada also became home to a number of Black Canadians due to the Underground Railroad, although racism has reared its ugly head in Canada as well.
  41.  While ethnic and racial struggles have been real, so have class struggles. A lot of this culminated in gained labor rights and ultimately universal health care.
  42.  The ‘grandfather’ of universal health care was actually New Democratic Party leader Tommy Douglas, who was named the Greatest Canadian in that (in-)famous poll.
  43. Tommy Douglas is also the grandfather of prominent Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland.
  44. Kiefer Sutherland’s father is Donald Sutherland, who married Tommy Douglas's daughter, prominent public figure, Shirley Douglas.
  45. While living in the U.S. Donald Sutherland retained only Canadian citizenship but lost the right to vote due to the Conservative Party’s new laws in 2015.
  46. This also led to a rallying cry by then-candidate Justin Trudeau, that “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian.”
  47. There are almost 3 million Canadians living abroad but many retain a vibrant Canadian identity.
  48. For example, the Terry Fox Run, a hallmark of Canada, has been held in over 60 countries by countless millions over the years.
  49. Through these runs over $650 million has been raised for cancer research.
  50. And it is all inspired by Terry Fox, who ran the Marathon of Hope in 1980 after losing one leg to cancer. 
  51. He ended his run after reaching 5,373 kilometers over 143 days.
  52. Inspired by Terry’s courage, a fellow West Coaster, Rick Hansen embarked on a Man in Motion World Tour for two years in 1985.
  53. He crisscrossed 34 countries raising $26 million along the way.
  54. It also inspired the song St. Elmo’s Fire, which reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.
  55. The best-selling Canadian artist of all time remains Celine Dion, who has sold over 200 million albums worldwide.
  56. It appears though that fellow Canadian Justin Bieber may soon beat her on the charts.
  57. There are a lot of Canadian singers, that is quite prominent, but they often live abroad, like Bryan Adams.
  58. In fact, Bryan Adams and Beverley Hills 90210 star Jason Priestly went to the same high school, Argyle Secondary School in Vancouver.
  59. And while Bryan Adams is known for his singing, he once mixed up the lyrics of the Canadian national anthem.
  60. The Canadian national anthem,‘O Canada’, was itself composed in 1880.
  61. However, the lyrics of the anthem were originally French and were then translated into English.
  62. The final English version emerged two decades later, which remains with us today.
  63. Like many things marking Canadian identity, the flag also was developed after Confederation — in 1965!
  64. Until that point, the Canadian flag always had the Union Jack.
  65. It was the government of then Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson that adopted the new flag.
  66. He was inspired earlier to move on this when Canadian peacekeepers were not accepted in Egypt due to the presence of the Union Jack on their flags.
  67. He had a lot of legitimacy because PM Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his efforts to stop the Suez Crisis.
  68. He remains the only Canadian to win the Noble Peace Prize.
  69. 17 other Canadians have won Nobel Prizes.
  70. Probably the most prominent was Frederick Banting in 1923 who co-discovered insulin.
  71. While Canadians are known for peacemaking in recent years it has been a troubling area.
  72. It was a Canadian lieutenant-general who commanded the peacekeeping force that failed to intervene to stop the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.
  73. Romeo Dallaire’s outspokenness after, however, helped empower the Responsibility to Protect movement.  
  74. Today, Canada has a Centre dedicated to humanitarian protection as a result. 
  75. Canada often fights alongside the United States but refused to join the Iraq War in 2003 and the Vietnam War decades earlier.
  76. It chooses to make its contributions more to specialized units and forces, such as Joint Task Force 2.
  77. A sniper from that group just broke the world record for the longest kill.
  78. The long-reach approach is a consistent one for Canada. It developed the Canadarm, which for three decades has helped repair satellites in outer space.
  79. Canada has a space program but often collaborates with NASA and the Europeans, including sending Chris Hadfield to space in 2012–2013 as the Commander of the International Space Station.
  80. Hadfield became a social media star, including running a Reddit AMA from outer-space.
  81. He also had an exciting phone call with William Shatner (also Canadian) of Star Trek fame from the Space Station.
  82. However, the most resonating aspect of his trip was probably his recording of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.
  83. During his time in space, he took 45,000 photos.
  84. One of the photos he took was of the Detroit River that separates Windsor, Ontario from Detroit, Michigan.
  85. A new bridge called the Gordie Howe International Bridge has been proposed for the crossing, although it has come under scrutiny.
  86. Gordie Howe, known as Mr. Hockey, was a Canadian hockey player that played for many years for the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League (NHL) and before Wayne Gretzky came along, he was the leading points scorer.
  87. This year is also the 100-year anniversary of the NHL.
  88. The original teams in the modern era, are known as the Original Six and included the Boston Bruins, Chicago Black Hawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadians, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
  89. Today, almost half of the players are still Canadian.
  90. Yet, a Canadian team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1993.
  91. Since that time, teams from Tampa Bay, Anaheim, and Carolina have won the Cup.
  92. Little known though is that the official National Game of Canada is lacrosse.
  93. A professional men’s lacrosse league has 9 teams, with 5 in the US and 4 in Canada.
  94. Canada has only one professional baseball team (the Toronto Blue Jays) but it used to have two.
  95. In 2004 the Montreal Expos folded after 35 years.
  96. Canada also has only one professional basketball team (the Toronto Raptors) but it also used to have two.
  97. In 2001, the Vancouver Grizzlies moved to Memphis — they are stilled called the Grizzlies.
  98. Many Grizzly Bears can be found at home in Western Canada (not Memphis).
  99. Canada’s natural landscape often affiliates the country with environmentalism.
  100.   A very prominent Canadian environmental activist is David Suzuki.
  101.  In addition, Greenpeace was founded in 1971 in Vancouver, Canada.
  102.  Despite this recognition and connection, Canada remains one of the worst polluters in the world with a high carbon footprint per capita.
  103.   When it is possible, renewable energy is a big focus such as in British Columbia where 92% of power is hydroelectric.
  104.   Companies such as Ballard pioneered alternative technologies such as hydrogen fuel cells but it hasn’t exactly worked out.
  105.   That is somewhat of a trend for Canadian companies in the modern technology era, with seemingly rising success stories like Corel, Nortel, and BlackBerry, falling back down to Earth.
  106.   Waterloo, Ontario, has the 2nd most patents per capita in the world, according to some estimates.
  107.   Canadians also have the highest rate of tertiary education among advanced economies.
  108.   It costs on average US$4,500 to study per year in Canada, nearly half of the price for public education in the U.S.
  109.   Equality is also growing in Canada with the bottom 90 percent seeing their income increase by 45% since 1982.
  110.   Over the same period, the top 10 percent saw an income increase of 65%.
  111.   Private healthcare costs are also affordable, reaching $3,000 per person(Canadian dollars).
  112.   And while there is universal healthcare, in 2016 wait times reached record levels.
  113.   The average wait time for medically necessary procedures was 20 weeks in 2016.
  114.   Some governments are trying to act, such as in Ontario where prescription drugs for people under the age of 25 will be free.
  115.   The same provincial government is seeking to launch a universal basic income trial in three cities.
  116.   And it matters what happens in Ontario because it has 13.6 million people, which is almost 40% of Canada’s population.
  117.   Canada has the highest population growth in the G7 actually.
  118.   It is in the Western provinces where we are seeing the most growth, with Alberta leading the way most recently.
  119.   Migration is a large part of the story, as the country receives roughly 300,000 net immigrants per year (I think).
  120.   Since 1951, Alberta has seen332.9% growth in its population.
  121.   British Columbia has seen 298.9%.
  122.   Ontario has witnessed 192.5% while Quebec is at 101.3%.
  123.  In the last 5 years, the capital of Newfoundland, Saint John’s, has seen negative population growth.
  124.   Newfoundland, although sometimes forgotten, matters. 17,000 stranded passengers on 9/11 found shelter and accommodation there.
  125.   The Titanic also sunk off the coast of the Canadian province.
  126.   A Canadian filmmaker became obsessed with the shipwreck ultimately creating one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
  127.   And this film, Titanic, also featured one of the most popular — or notorious — songs of all time, by that other Canadian, Celine Dion: My Heart Will Go On.
  128.   Shipwrecks off the Canadian coasts are not uncommon, given that Canada is surrounded by three oceans, the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific.
  129.   Most explorers came by sea, including French explorer Jacques Cartier, considered one of the first Europeans to arrive in what is today Canada.
  130.   It is thought that he named the place, Canada, after an Iroquois name for ‘settlement’.
  131.   Much of his crew suffered from scurvy and were only saved by the help of indigenous people they encountered.
  132.   The very first Thanksgiving celebration in Canada was held in 1578 — in Newfoundland.
  133.   Canada, like some other Commonwealth countries, also celebrates Boxing Day, which occurs on December 26.
  134.   No one really knows why Canadians celebrate Boxing Day, except that it is a day when everything is on sale.
  135.   The U.S. and Canada share a lot but differences like these on a few holidays are matched by some linguistic differences, like the garburator.
  136.   However, all-in-all there are a lot of shared things, like NORAD, which among other things tracks Santa Claus.
  137.   And Santa Claus still lives in the North Pole, which is in Canada.
  138.   There are still though a number of border disputes between Canada and the U.S.
  139.   Though that can hopefully be resolved over a double-double at Tim Horton’s, the historic Canadian coffee chain.
  140.   Like many brands, Tim Horton’s is owned by an American company.
  141.   The same is true for the Hudson Bay Company, which is one of the oldest companies in the world.
  142.   However, there is nothing to fret about for Canada. The country still has 9% of the world’s forests.
  143.   Toronto is the world’s most diverse city.
  144.   The overall economy remains one of the world’s largest and strongest.
  145.   That contrasts with the 1990s when Canada was facing a debt crisis and was considered at risk.
  146.   The country ranks as the ‘7th happiest’ in the world.
  147.   Although in 2016 Canada was 6th.
  148.   And in 2015 was 5th.
  149.   But that is okay because July 1, 2017, is Canada’s 150th birthday.
  150.   And everybody is celebrating!  

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