15 things most Canadians don’t know about their own country

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You probably already know that Canada’s national sport is lacrosse, not hockey. And that we’re home to the most northerly permanent settlement (Alert, Nunavut). But how about the fact that we built the world’s first UFO landing pad? Or that Iceland wanted to adopt the loonie? Here are 15 things that many Canadians don’t even know about their home and native land.

1. We made the world’s first $1-million coin

In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint issued the world’s first million-dollar coin (it was also named the world’s largest gold coin by Guinness World Records). To date, five of these coins have been bought by investors.

2. We eat 55 percent more Kraft Dinner than Americans do

Yes, us northerners really love instant macaroni and cheese—which maybe isn’t so surprising given The Barenaked Ladies even referenced this university dinner staple in their song, “If I Had a Million Dollars.”

3. We built the world’s first UFO landing pad

St. Paul, Alberta, is home to the world’s first landing pad for alien life. The raised cement pad was built in 1967 and was officially opened by then Minister of National Defense (and open alien conspiracy theorist) Paul Hellyer.

4. We never owned Alaska

It’s a common misconception that Canada “sold” Alaska to the U.S. Not true. Our southern neighbours bought the state from Russia in 1867.

5. We almost shared currency with Iceland

In the aftermath of the country’s economic collapse, Iceland’s government publicly considered adopting Canada’s currency, prompting speculation that Greenland would also consider taking on the loonie.

6. We’re home to the waterfall capital of the world

The region surrounding the steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, has more than 100 waterfalls, and is dubbed both “The City of Waterfalls” and “The Waterfall Capital of the World.” It may be a self-made claim, but it works for publicity: do a Google search for “waterfall capital” and top spots go to the Hammer. 

7We harvest icebergs in Newfoundland and Labrador for vodka

Ever seen Iceberg Vodka at your local liquor store? It’s the only vodka in the world made from icebergs, which are harvested from Iceberg Alley, off Newfoundland’s east coast, then processed in St. John’s. Ontario has a hand in there, too—the alcohol part is triple-distilled from Ontario sweet corn.

8. We’re the garter snake capital of the world

If you’re not scared to see tens of thousands of red-garter snakes in a mating frenzy, head to the Narcisse Snake Den in Manitoba. For two periods each year, visitors can see “more snakes at a glance than anywhere else in the world,” according to the Government of Manitoba’s website. 

9. We’re the world’s largest exporter of lentils

Quick! Name our top exports! Wheat? Oil? Lumber? How about lentils? Yes, Canada exports more lentils than any other nation, producing 17 percent of the world’s supply and primarily exporting to India and Turkey.

10. We hold an annual bathtub race

Every July, you can watch—or take part in—the World Championship Bathtub Race in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The annual event started in 1967 and is run by a real organization known as the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Racing Society.

11. We have more doughnut shops per capita than anywhere else in the world

The doughnut may be commonly considered an American sweet, but it turns out we eat more of the deep-fried treat than anywhere else on the planet. Which maybe isn’t so surprising—how many Tim Hortons do you pass on your daily commute? 

12. We supply a third of the world’s French fries

Thanks to the McCain empire, one-third of the world’s French fry supply comes from the small town of Florenceville-Bristol in New Brunswick. 

13. We have the deepest underground physics lab in the world

The SNOLAB, located two kilometres underneath the city of Sudbury, is the deepest physics lab on earth. Work in the lab includes experiments about dark matter and research on supernovas.

14. Our tallest waterfall isn’t the Horseshoe

Niagara Falls may get all the glory, but the highest waterfall in Canada is actually in British Columbia’s Strathacona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. Della Falls stands 440 metres, which is more than eight times the height of the Niagara Falls. 

15. We’re a hotbed for dinosaur research

One of the world’s richest dinosaur fossil fields is in Alberta’s badlands, and archaeological excavations continue to take place there. The area has been designated as a provincial park (Dinosaur Provincial Park) and an UNESCO World Heritage site.


What other surprising facts do you know about Canada?