This fast paced sport consists of two teams on skates, players are armed with sticks where the objective is to shoot the rubber “puck” into the opposing team’s net. From frozen-over ponds and community rinks, to the top arenas, you will find Canadians playing hockey. Not only are Canadians practising everywhere, but you will find all ages and levels participating - from children who can barely walk to those in the National Hockey League (NHL).
This game is so entwined with the country, that the Canadian logo of the maple leaf is printed on many hockey shirts. The Canadian hockey identity goes as far as education! In the University of Saskatchewan there is a course offered on “Hockey in Canadian Literature”.
Canada’s greatest and most wide reaching export, hockey cannot be ignored in Canada, whether one appreciates the game or not. Last night was an exciting night for the sports-obsessed lesbians of America! Women’s hockey team won the gold medal last night (for the first time since 1998!), defeating Team Canada 3-2. The game was intense — following a 20-minute overtime, and a penalty shootout that ended in a tie, the teams went into a sudden-death shootout.
The exact origin of ice hockey is unknown, however the game was developed in 1875 by a Canadian, J.G.A Creighton. The first game played under these modern rules, formed by Creighton, took place in Montreal. Although an iconically male sport, it continues to evolve alongside Canada, whereby women have gradually become more and more involved in the national sport. In the 2002 Winter Olympics, over 6 million Canadians watched their women’s team take the gold medal; just three days later 10 million watched the men’s team achieve the gold medal as well.
In 2004 a poll was taken in Canada to find the 10 greatest Canadians of all time, millions of Canadians chose two hockey players within their list - Wayne Gretzky and Don Cherry. Furthermore, having a hockey scene on the back of the Canadian five dollar note is just another example of how close to their hearts this sport really is.
Some Canadians who feel strongly about the sport, believe that hockey has huge impacts on Canada, so much so that it defines it. There have been books written on the influence and connection between hockey and Canada, such as Jim Prime’s book, How Hockey Explains Canada: The Sport That Defines a Country.
Why Canadians Love Hockey
Needless to say that Canada created, embraced and continues to adore ice hockey. In a country which is divided by languages and political views, hockey is seen as a unifying force, forming a great part of Canadian cultural identity.
Canada is the second largest country in the world (after Russia) by land mass.
Canada has a total area of 9.9 million sq. km. and touches the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic oceans (which is why its motto, “from sea to sea” is quite appropriate), making it the country with the longest coastline (243,791 km. long). It is composed of 10 provinces and three territories with Ottawa as its capital. The provinces are: Alberta (capital: Edmonton) , British Columbia (Victoria), Manitoba (Winnipeg), New Brunswick (Fredericton), Newfoundland and Labrador (St. John’s), Nova Scotia (Halifax), Ontario (Toronto), Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown), Quebec (Quebec City), and Saskatchewan (Regina). The three territories are: Northwest Territories (Yellowknife), Nunavut (Iqaluit), and Yukon (Whitehorse).
Land of Lakes
Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined. At last count, there may be as many as two million, with 563 lakes larger than 100 square kilometres. Canada’s largest include Lake Huron (Ontario), Great Bear Lake (Northwest Territories), and Lake Superior (Ontario). Lake Winnipeg, Canada’s fifth and the world’s 11th largest, is in Manitoba.
Canada is the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism, embracing diversity and pluralism. Today, according to the Parliament of Canada’s Canadian Multiculturalism report, the country is home to people from over 250 ethnic origins. Around 6.2 per cent of the total Canadian population reported an Aboriginal identity and 22.3 per cent belong to a visible minority (2016 Census). The largest groups among these visible minorities come from Asia (including the Middle East), Africa and Europe. The largest individual source of immigrants is the Philippines, followed by India and China (source: Statistics Canada).
Canada is a Parliamentary Democracy headed by a Prime Minister. However, it is also a constitutional monarchy with executive authority vested in the Queen. This means that the Queen is the head of state, while the Prime Minister is the head of government. A parliamentary democracy has three parts: the Sovereign (Queen), the Senate, and the House of Commons. Meanwhile, the government has three levels: federal, provincial and municipal. The federal government is based in Ottawa and is headed by the Prime Minister. Provincial and territorial governments are headed by premiers, while municipal governments are led by mayors (Read Canada’s three levels of government to know more).
Canada means village
The country’s name is derived from “Kanata”, a Huron-Iroquois word meaning village or settlement. Two Indigenous youths used this word to describe the settlement of Stadacona (now Quebec City) to European explorer Jacques Cartier. Cartier then used “Canada” to describe a bigger area beyond Stadacona. The use of this name soon spread throughout the entire region, surpassing its former name, New France.
The maple leaf and other symbols
Did you know that it took 40 years for the Canadian parliament to finally decide on a Canadian flag? The red and white flag with the prominent maple leaf was officially launched on February 15, 1965 (making Feb. 15 National Flag of Canada Day) after much debate and rigorous study (read 5 amazing facts about the creation of the National Flag of Canada to know the full story). But have you ever wondered why the maple leaf is so identified with Canada? Well, for years even prior to the coming of European settlers, Indigenous Peoples have been using maple sap as a food staple. Throughout history, the image of the leaf found its way into Canadian coins, emblems and coats of arms. The maple tree is also very important to Canadians and is the official arboreal emblem. Today, Canada continues to produce three-quarters of the world’s maple syrup output.
Meanwhile, the beaver as a national emblem dates back to the 1700s, when the lucrative trade of beaver pelts (for fur hats) put Canada on the map. The Hudson’s Bay Company honoured the animal by putting it in its coat of arms. Another Canadian symbol is the Maple Leaf Tartan designed by David Weiser which became an official symbol in 2011.
Canada Day commemorates the signing of the British North America Act (today known as the Constitution Act, 1867) which created Canada. The statutory holiday is celebrated every July 1st, and was for a time, called Dominion Day. It marks the anniversary of the Confederation of three British colonies into four provinces: The United Province of Canada (Ontario and Quebec), New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. To see how Canada Day is celebrated in various parts of the country, go to the official site.
Canada’s national anthem, “O Canada” was composed by Calixa Lavallee with lyrics written by Sir Adolphe Basile-Routhier. Several versions have been made of the anthem, but the version used today was written by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer from Montreal. You can hear the anthem below (Youtube video by Canada Immigrant):
National dish: Poutine
Canada’s national dish originated from Quebec in the 1950s. Made up of a tasty mix of french fries, cheese curds and gravy, Poutine has been claimed by numerous people, but its inventor has never been confirmed. Anyway, canucks (a nickname for Canadians) have eaten the wonderful dish in more ways than one. Care for the traditional poutine? Or perhaps poutine with an international twist? How about going gourmet with foie gras poutine?
What does basketball, the pacemaker, IMAX, and the Blackberry have in common? Yes, they were all invented by Canadians. Basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian PE instructor in Massachusetts who wanted to create a game that can be played indoors during winter. Meanwhile, the first pacemaker was invented by electrical engineer John Hopps, and the IMAX (for Image Maximum) was created by Toronto-based Graeme Ferguson, Roman Kroitor, Robert Kerr and William Shaw. Lastly, the Blackberry cellphone is a product of Research in Motion (RIM), in Waterloo, Ontario. Want to know more Canadian inventions? Here are 19 things you might not know were invented in Canada.
Hockey is the national winter sport of Canada while lacrosse is the national summer sport. To give you an indication of how much Canadians love hockey, the Canada-US Men’s Gold Hockey Game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics was the most watched television broadcast ever in Canadian history according to NHL.com. Meanwhile, the women’s hockey team has also been dominating the Olympics, winning gold medals, the most recent of which was at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
Sources:Government of Canada site, canadafacts.org., Environment Canada, aboutnews,Canadian Heritage (at the Government of Canada site), montrealpoutine, Historica Canada, National Research Council of Canada, IMAX.com, and brighthub.com.
11 Basic facts about Canada
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