Canadian Facts Fiction Language and Traditions
Canada's national languages, symbols, and traditions were formed through the unique circumstances which this country developed under. Canada is a bilingual multi-cultural country.
Canada and multiculturalism within Canada began way back when the country was first colonized. From that point onward there was no turning back.
From Canada's very earliest days Canadians were set on a trail which would lead them into creating a land as diverse as the inhabitants who live there.
We are a Multicultural Bilingual Country
Back in Canada's early days the passengers of incoming ships did not consider Canada's native population to be the rightful owners of this land. So the first visitors to land in Canada claimed the land as rightfully theirs to own.
The English were the first people to lay claim to Canada but they found this land to be a cold and inhospitable country. The land was officially theirs by right to claim but they were not all that interested in colonizing Canada. Canada did not seem to have much to offer up to the English It was just so gosh awful cold and barren that it really did not seem to be a location that any of the English would want to relocate to.
So along came the French who figured that Canada was free for the taking and so decided to place a stake into this new land by moving their french speaking population onto it.
Not too long after this occupation by the French, England got a funny little notion that a certain furry Canadian critter with a big flat tail that lived within those backwoods was something that they could use. The Canadian Beaver had a thick fur coat which could be designed into really super duper nice warm hats for the English elite to wear on those cold British evenings. The Brits wanted those fur hat which meant that the English now had a heightened interest in re-staking their claim to Canada and they decided that they were willing to fight for to reclaim Canada as their territory.
After a few years of squabbling and shooting at each other France starting thinking that Canada really was not worth having such a great big fight over so the French gave up. France signed over to England the rights to all of the lands belonging to Canada as well as the rights to Canada's furry little Beaver inhabitants. That ended that debate or so they thought.
What remained on Canadian soil was a large population of French speaking Canadians who did not want to or were unable to leave Canada. There were in fact more French speaking Canadians than there were English speaking ones and these French Canadians had absolutely no desire to let go off their traditional language. Which of course made enforcing English as the official language of Canada just a wee smidge difficult.
So Why is Canada a Multicultural Country?
The French population continued to speak french even after England claimed this country as its own and the newly arriving British population could not make them change their minds. So the English spoke English and the French spoke french. Which means that Canada became a country with two official languages: French and English.
Ah but this is not where the story ends for it turns out that when the English allowed the French to maintain their language and distinct cultural heritage that they opened up a whole tasty jar of multiculturalism for everyone to enjoy. Canada now became a nation of tolerance and acceptability toward all of its incoming immigrants.
Immigrants were accepted into the mainstream but respectfully allowed to maintain a large degree of their heritage, language, and culture.
Canada has two official languages but these are largely influenced by the many distinct cultural communities that now reside within this multi-cultural country. The furry little creature who started this whole scenario wound up becoming one of Canada's most recognized national symbols. The thick coated, big toothed, flat tailed beaver now proudly graces our five cent coin.
We have Unique in that we have 2 Official Languages
Did you know that Canada is a Bilingual Country?
The Beaver is Now a Symbol of Canada's Cultural Heritage
The Hudson's Bay Trading Company
The Hudson Bay Trading Company is one of Canada's earliest earmarks in history. It was set into the backwoods of the Canadian wilderness to enable the voyageurs to trade with the native Indians for fur pelts.
Along Came the Metric System Into Canada
There are a still a couple more significant events that occurred which greatly influenced Canadian culture. The introduction of the metric system into Canada was one of these historical events. The metrication system proved that Canadians are a people who do not like change.
We were used to the Standard measurement system of inches, feet, and the Fahrenheit temperature scale. The new Metric system based on sections of ten was just too much for the average laid back older Canadian to figure out. We stood with our mouths agape as new thermometers, weigh scales, rulers, and mileage signs appeared throughout the country.
Those who did not want to or were unable to grasp the metric system initiated a new and unique twist to the Canadian way of speaking. Rather than dealing with the confusing issue of converting miles to kilometers people began to judge their distances in factors of time and to add this new method of judging distance into their basic cultural language base.
The city of Creston was now about an hour and a half from Cranbrook and Prince George was about ten or eleven hours away while downtown was about ten minutes from where you currently were.
Temperatures also took on a whole new theme. Rather than try to figure out the Celsius temperature scale Canadians just began to eliminate exact temperatures from their discussions. The weather was now discussed as being a little below freezing, or a little above freezing, or just pretty damn cold. Sure is a nice day or wow is it ever hot now became standard descriptions for a nice summer day.
Canadian Money and the Introduction of the Loonie.
Turns out that Canada's monetary system is a bit loony too. Canada made an economic decision to eliminate their one dollar bill and to replace it with a one dollar coin which would be much more durable than the current paper currency.
This was an initiative that could save Canada a substantial amount of money over the long term.
Now the mighty Beaver was already gracing the Canadian five cent coin so the powers that be decided that they needed a different creature to put on their one dollar coin. It turns out that a choice was made to put the wild and soulful Loon on the new Canadian one dollar coin. Hmm, well you can imagine what that led to.
Putting a Loonie on the one dollar Canadian coin naturally had the inhabitants of this country dubbing the new coin "The Loonie".
Despite all attempts to dignify the new one dollar coin its dubious nickname stuck. The issuing of various other images in an attempt to add a little more national pride to the coin just did not work. The name "Loonie" was ingrained in the minds of Canadians countrywide and this title staunchly remains as the most popular term for Canada's one dollar coin.
When Canada later introduced its two dollar coin, it was quickly dubbed a "Toonie", or "Twonie". What can one say but that Canada's monetary system is a little loony. Eh, it's just another one of those Canadian things.
Canada is Indeed One Cold Country
Canadian Fact and Fiction. Which is which?
Multi-colored money: In 2004 Canada made history when it introduced the world's first colored coin. The Canadian quarter proudly displayed a bright red poppy on it that year. Since that date there are many other colored Canadian coins issued such as a very special quarter displaying a pink ribbon issued in 1996 and printed specifically to support awareness for breast cancer.
Loonie: This one dollar coin is one of many coins and bills that comprise Canadian money. It acquired its name because the first coin came out featuring a loon on it's front. Subsequent attempts to drift away from having our one dollar coin hosting the distinguished title of "Loonie" have not worked. The term "Loonie" remains to stand tall and strong within Canadian History.
Beaver: The famous furry little critter that started the rush to colonize Canada.
Canada Goose: Our national bird?
Eh!: A Canadian phrase to encompass anything from "Job well done" to "That is one hot mama".
Maple Leaf: A leaf that grows upon the mighty Maple Tree which is a source of nothing other than maple syrup, maple sugar, and maple fudge. The maple leaf is also a National symbol of Canada.
Insulin: Famous Canadian medical breakthrough announced in the winter of 1921 credited to two Canadians: Sir Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best.
Canada Has an Abundance of Wilderness Areas Ideal for Hiking
Canadian Trivia and Folklore
Churchill: It really is nothing like Parliament Hill. Residing in this community are approximately one polar bear for every five residents. This makes it a very exciting little Canadian community to set up a homestead in.
Niagara Falls: Half Canadian and half U.S. these Falls sit between the two cities of Niagra Falls, Ontario and Niagra Falls, New York.
Terry Fox: A Canadian Hero. This young lad lived a very short life but he initiated the Marathon Of Hope which lives on in his memory. Over 400 million dollars has been raised in his name for cancer research. Thank you Terry.
Hockey: The sport that has made Canada's famous throughout the world.
Wayne Gretzky: A Famous Canadian Hockey Player who was sold to the United States causing quite a controversy. A lot of sports fans considered him a symbol of our country.
Pamela Anderson: A well recognized Canadian figure.
Stompin' Tom Connors: A National Singer who stomps on boards during his concerts. After his concert these dented boards are auctioned off for charity. (Yep, would take a Canadian to think that one up!).
Judging Distance: Canadians generally judge distance in spaces of time rather than measurement. For example a neighborhood cafe might be fifteen minutes away while the nearest town is around an hour away. The reason for this unique language lies in the Country's change over to metrics and the majority of older individuals who were forced to adopt the metric system but so unable to figure it out.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
They were the defenders of the great white north. They negotiated with the native Indians, solved land disputes, locked up cow rustlers, and broke up drunken brawls. The Royal Canadian mounted police kept things peaceful in a land that was still wild.
If you are visiting Canada.
If you are planning on visiting Canada bring with you a map, a metric conversion chart, and a sense of humor.
You will definitely be needing these items to maneuver your way around the amazing cities, vast wilderness frontiers, and the local inhabitants of this country. Canada and it's inhabitants are a delightful mix of wonderment, and confusion, and an adventure that is just too good to miss out on.
If you find their terms and phrases are a little different from one shore to the other,just remember that it is Canada's historic past that has created her distinct language usage. If you know basic English or French then you'll be okay. Just keep your map, your metric conversation chart, and your sense of humor with you. Canadians are definitely a unique linguistic lot.
Canada: Where Birds and People Share the Beach
...and Deer Wander by for a Visit
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Lorelei Cohen