Thought you knew all there was to know about the true north strong and free? These surprising facts about Canada will have you seeing our beautiful country in a whole new way.
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 (anyone who’s ever had to chisel their car out of a block of ice in the morning knows this to be true). The average low for the month of January in Ottawa 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!
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 one of the most fascinating facts about Canada is that we also have more surface area covered by lakes than any other country in the world. It’s true! The Great White North has 563 lakes larger than 100 square kilometers. The Great Lakes alone contain about 18 per cent of the world’s fresh lake water. That’s a lot of water—and a lot of gorgeous scenery.
Canada is bigger than the European Union
Ever been travelling abroad and had someone ask you if you know Kimberly from Vancouver or Theo from Montreal after you told them you were Canadian? Our country’s vast size is a fact about Canada that’s often hard to comprehend for those who haven’t experienced it firsthand. 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! Another fun fact about Canada? We also like our tourist attractions super-sized.
Alert, Nunavut, is the world’s northernmost settlement
At the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, just 817 kilometers 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 realize 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.
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 fascinating fact about Canada in perspective, that accounts for 202,080 of the world’s total 356,000 kilometers of oceanfront property. The only other country that even comes close is Indonesia, which has 54,716 km of coastline.
Canada has 10 per cent of the world’s forests
One of the most widely-known facts about Canada is that we’ve got an abundance of trees, but did you know that Canada actually boasts 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 hectare of forest and other wooded land can be found across the country, and 68 per cent of that is coniferous.
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. One of the most fascinating facts about Canada is that Quebec City is the only city north of Mexico that still has fortified walls. 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.
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.
Canada’s national parks are bigger than most countries
One of the most mind-blowing facts about Canada is that the country is so big, even our parks dwarf other 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.
Canada has North America’s strongest current
Here’s a fascinating fact about Canada for all you adrenaline junkies. If you’re up for the swim of your life (be sure to wear a life-jacket), check out the 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.