Posts tagged “facts

Canada; What, When & Why?

In case you didn’t know, yesterday was Canada Day and I’ve been juggling with ideas of what to write for my country’s national holiday. Keeping in mind that I haven’t been everywhere (we are the second biggest country in the world after all), I didn’t feel like I could truly capture the best of what Canada has to offer in terms of sights, activities or culture. I trust that there are several outlets available out there for anyone looking for things to do in Ontario or the best restaurants in Alberta so I’m going a different route. I want to put the focus on the country itself and maybe catch some interest not by listing a top 10 activities or the best national parks but by shedding light on what makes each and every one of the 13 provinces and territories unique and different but also pivotal in the shape that Canada has today.

Nunavut

The youngest territory and 13th division of the country, Nunavut officially became recognized as a territory just 12 years ago. April 1st 1999 is when it took the Northwest Territories spot as the northernmost territory in Canada. Not surprisingly, it’s also the home of the northernmost permanently inhabitable locale in the world; Alert.

Being a rather remote area, it has one of the lowest density of population in the world and yet, if it was a country, Nunavut would be the 15th biggest country in the world; edging out every single European country besides Russia.

Northwest Territories

Quite surprisingly, mainly due to its geographical location, the Northwest Territories are home of the 13th longest river in the world. The Mackenzie river runs through the territory on a length of roughly 4200 kilometres (just over 2600 miles)

It is also home of the only unshared UNESCO site of the three Canadian territories; Nahanni National Park Reserve.

Yukon

Yukon is home of the highest mountain in Canada; Mount Logan, which is also the second highest peak in North America.

For some reason, while Yukon has its own international airport in Yellowknife, it only offers direct flights to 3 other Canadian cities (Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton) one in Alaska (Fairbanks) and to Frankfurt, Germany.

British Columbia

After Vancouver’s winning bid for host of the 2010 winter Olympics, British Columbia became the third province in Canada to host the Olympics. It is also the only place in Canada to have “coffee shops” similar to the ones in Amsterdam. The major difference is that they are not allowed to sell the product; they simply offer a place to use it.

Alberta

With 5 sites out of 14, Alberta is the province with the most UNESCO sites in Canada. It is also the 5th biggest energy producer in the world and Edmonton, the province’s capital, is where the world’s biggest shopping mall is located; the West Edmonton Mall.

Saskatchewan

Regina, the province’s capital, is where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recruits train as it is the only training academy licensed to offer training to the RCMP.

All of the province’s boundaries are man-made; setting it apart from the rest of provinces and territories. To be exact, the province is wedged between Alberta and Manitoba, right under the Northwest Territories and above the states of Montana and North Dakota.

Manitoba

The town of Elie, Manitoba, was hit by a F5 tornado in June 2007, the first category 5 tornado to ever touch ground in Canada.

Winnipeg, the province’s capital, inspired the naming of Winnie the Pooh, where it was originally purchased. Not only that but Winnipeg is also the Slurpee capital of the world even though the temperatures are below freezing point for about half of the year.

Ontario

Ottawa is where, during World War II, Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born. As her family fled the Netherlands because of the war, the hospital ward her mother was in was momentarily declared extraterritorial, making it possible for the princess to only have Dutch citizenship.

Quebec

Although English is commonly used in several areas of the province, French is the province’s official language. This makes Quebec the only province to have French as its official language.

Throughout history, Quebec has attempted to become an independent state on two separate occasions; in 1980 and then again in 1995. Both referendums ended with a majority of Quebecers choosing to remain a part of Canada instead of seceding.

New Brunswick

While French communities exist in other provinces and several areas of Quebec use English on a daily basis, New Brunswick is the only province to be officially bilingual; having both English and French listed as its official languages.

New Brunswick is home to four unusual natural phenomena;
– The largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere (and second biggest in the world) is located between two of the province’s islands; Deer and Indian islands.
– The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides in the world and they rise at a rate of 1 metre per hour.
– Due to the force behind the high tides, the Saint John River flows backwards twice every day. The phenomenon can easily be observed as the tide overpowers the regular current, causing it to flow upstream.
– Magnetic Hill, located in Moncton, isn’t as magnetic as its name may imply but drivers can put their cars in neutral and watch with amazement as it drives itself up the hill, without any help from the driver.

Nova Scotia

Halifax, the province’s capital, is where the first decorated English Christmas tree was located. In 1846, protestant Martin Luther (not to be confused with Martin Luther King!) tried to reproduce the effect of stars shining through evergreens by placing candles on a spruce.

Nova Scotia was the first settlement north of Florida and named after Scotland.

There are 150 lighthouses in the province; the most in all of Canada

Prince Edward Island

The only province to be considered its own country according to the Travelers’ Century Club because of the distance between it and the mainland; officially making it the smallest province and the only one to be considered its own land.

Newfoundland & Labrador

There are no snakes or poison ivy found on the island of Newfoundland but the province has its own kind of dog and pony (originally named the Newfoundland dog and the Newfoundland pony)

A few “firsts” also occurred in Newfoundland;
– First province to respond to the Titanic distress signal
– First place to have a wireless communication in the world
– First transatlantic flight departed from Newfoundland in 1919


6 Cool Facts About the Netherlands

Beyond things that you probably didn’t know about Amsterdam; here are some cool facts about the Netherlands.

1. Orange is the official color of the Netherlands because of the name of a powerful family that assisted the Dutch in fighting off Napoleon’s troops and even today’s royal lineage of the current dynasty are related to the powerful House of Orange.

2. The current queen of the Netherlands, Beatrix, was born in Canada, during the German occupation of the Netherlands. An entire hospital wing was declared Dutch soil in order for her to be eligible to be queen.

3. 50% of books published in the 17th century were published in the Netherlands.

4. Only 9% of Dutch people have used marijuana in the past year.

5. Tulips, a well-known symbol of the Netherlands, were the first commercial bubble (and the first crash); the highest priced bulb sold for more than the price of a medium-priced house.

6. While you can legally have sex with a prostitute, buy and use drugs or marry someone of the same sex, it is illegal to ride a bike without a light in the front and one in the back.


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Amsterdam

Most of us have a very precise vision of what Amsterdam is supposed to be like but beyond the drugs and sex, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the capital of the Netherlands.

1. Amsterdam’s Royal Palace was not only known as the center of Europe 400 years ago, it was seen as the center of the world!

2. Amsterdam had a revolution after the French occupation ended; effectively revolting against no one.

3. There are roughly 250 windows in the Red Light District and they are all privately owned.

4. The highest street in Amsterdam is roughly 1.5 meter above sea level

5. Amsterdam was once known as “The Second Jerusalem” for its acceptance of Jewish people.

6. Amsterdam is non-officially known as the world’s capital of multi-culturalism. There are 197 nations represented in the city.

7. Amsterdam has more canals than Venice

8. Coffeeshops are taxed by the government, although selling and buying marijuana is not technically legal.

9. Non-Jewish people in Amsterdam were the only ones to stand up against the Nazis in 1941 when they began deporting Jews.

10. Women who work in the Red Light District rent their window at a rate between 150 and 200 euros, depending on the location, for an 8 hour shift.