Canada 2017

150 facts about Canada… in 150 seconds?!

CBC's Amanda Parris races the clock to share 150 fascinating factoids about our strange and wonderful nation.

CBC's Amanda Parris races the clock to share 150 factoids about our strange and wonderful nation.

Celebrating Viking heritage at L'Anse Aux Meadows

28 years ago
Duration 6:29
Paul Compton gives up fishing and starts a Viking tour ship business at L'Anse Aux Meadows, N.L. in 1995.

Learning about Canada is no trivial pursuit — but after much fact-checking and tongue-twisting, the CBC's 2017 team has come up with a very Canadian dinner party cheat sheet. In the lead up to our country's 150th anniversary, we present 150 of Canada's more esoteric factoids.

Watch CBC host Amanda Parris race the clock to share them all in 150 seconds, or read the more detailed annotated list below. 

(While we tried to keep the fudging to a minimum, we did have some fun. We apologize in advance for number 41.)

Did someone say sesquicentennial?

1. Canada is turning 150 in 2017.
2. This milestone is called a sesquicentennial (pronounced: SES-kwuh-sen-TEN-nee-yul).
3. It's kind of a big deal: the biggest anniversary since our Centennial in 1967.
4. Canadians can expect to see hundreds of cool initiatives in the lead-up to and all throughout 2017.
5. Like Kontinuum, an underground multimedia time tunnel, presented by Ottawa 2017.
6. Or Lost Stories, a public art project about little known Canadian history, from Concordia University.
7. Or the brand new Canada 150 typeface, which features characters that support English, French and Canada's Indigenous languages.

La Machine and its giant mechanical beasts will be among Ottawa's notable visitors in 2017. The French street theatre company, which has never performed in North America before, will storm our streets for Canada's 150th anniversary. (Ottawa 2017)

Meet me in Mushaboom

Canada has a wealth of unusual place names. In Newfoundland alone you can count them to your Heart's Content (or Heart's Delight or Heart's Desire). Some that caught our eye include:

8. Sober Island, N.S. (Which has its own brewing company!)
9. Blow Me Down Provincial Park, N.L.
10. Big Beaver, Sask.
11. Bacon Ridge, Man.
12. Come by Chance, N.L.
13. Mushaboom, N.S. (Which inspired a song by Nova Scotia's own Feist.) 
14. Mayo, Yukon. (A remote town with one eatery.) 
15. Goobies, N.L.
16. Dildo, N.L. (Comedian Shaun Majumder has already made those jokes so you don't have to.) 
​17. Punkeydoodles Corners, Ont.
​18. Wawa, Ont. (Also known as the "land of the big goose," for good reason.) 
19. Mono, Ont.
20. Crotch Lake, Ont.
​21. Uren, Sask.
22. Vulcan, Alta. (And, yes, locals have worn pointy ears — but only for special occasions.)
23. Balls Creek, N.S.
24. Ball's Falls, Ont. 
25. Eyebrow, Sask.
26. Elbow, Sask.
27. Finger, Man.
28. Climax, Sask.
29. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alta. (Where archeologists recently unearthed a 1,600 year-old meal!)
30. Dead Man's Flats, Alta. (A hamlet with not one but two local legends.)

Dead Man's Flats is the name of a hamlet in western Alberta near Canmore. The name was adopted in 1985. (Google Street View)

31. Stoner, B.C.
32. We also have a town with exclamation points, Quebec's Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! 
33. And this, the longest place name in Canada: Pekwachnamaykoskwaskwaypinwanik Lake, Man. 
34. Its name is said to mean "where the wild trout are caught by fishing with hooks." 
35. And it's a tiny lake in Manitoba.
36. Canada has one fifth of the world's freshwater.

Stuff you should probably know

We didn't say every item on the list would be earth-shattering — but if you're a heartsick Ganderite in love with a Vancouverite, you know how complicated time zones can be.

37. Canada stretches across six time zones
38. Our public broadcaster, the CBC, launched in 1936 to unify this sprawling country.

39. Which makes the CBC older than the modern Canadian flag. (The Maple Leaf won over these rejected flag designs in 1965.)
40. Here's the Canadian Red Ensign, the flag that got bumped by the Leaf. Canadians have also flown several other flags.

After much debate and disagreement, the Canadian Red Ensign was replaced by the modern Maple Leaf flag in 1965. (Canadian Heritage/Government of Canada)

41. Plus, here's what our flag could look like in the future. (Go ahead, send the angry email. But you can't say Drake doesn't know a thing or two about branding.)

One nation under Drake? (TK Matunda/CBC)

Now you're speaking my language

If we started a sentence with "Canadians speak… " and then listed all languages reported in the latest census, well — we'd have more than 150 facts, right there.

Canadians claimed deep connections to over 200 languages in the 2011 census, with Tagalog (a major language of the Philippines) increasing the most since 2006. 

42. Canada is home to over 36 million people
43. It has two official languages: English and French.
44. But over 20 per cent of Canadians have another international mother tongue, including:
45. Akan
46. Amharic
47. Albanian
48. Arabic
49. Armenian
50. Azerbaijani
51. Cantonese
52. Dutch
53. Estonian
54. Finnish
55. Georgian
56. German
57. Greek
58. Gujarati
59. Haitian Creole
60. Hebrew
61. Hindi
62. Hungarian
63. Ilocano
64. Italian
65. Japanese
66. Kabyle
67. Khmer
68. Korean
69. Lao
70. Latvian
71. Lithuanian
72. Malay
73. Malayalam
74. Mandarin
75. Mongol
76. Persian
77. Polish
78. Portuguese
79. Punjabi
80. Rundi
81. Russian
82. Somali
83. Spanish
84. Swahili
​85. Tagalog
86. Tamil
87. Telugu
88. Thai
89. Turkish
90. Ukrainian
91. Urdu
92. Vietnamese
93. Welsh
94. Yiddish
95. And this list doesn't include over 60 indigenous languages
96. Canada's Indigenous languages can be grouped into at least eight distinct language families. (Statistics Canada groups them into 12.) 
97. The largest language family is Algonquin, which includes Cree languages, Ojibway, Innu/Montagnais and Oji-Cree.

Oh, the places we could go

How many places have you visited in Canada? If you're among the many Canadians who would sooner travel internationally, perhaps these strange Canadian attractions will change your mind.

98. How about visiting the massive snake orgy in Narcisse, Man.?
99. Or Newfoundland's historic Viking village L'Anse Aux Meadows. (Note: another potential Viking site was found earlier this year.)

Trivial Pursuit invented by Canadians

41 years ago
Duration 4:42
Two Montreal journalists invent a simple game that sweeps the nation.

100. Or the Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke, B.C. (Home to hundreds of figurines and the province's tallest tree house.) 
101. But when it comes to wanderlust, millennials are more likely to leave home.
102. Which means they're missing out on several sweet relics from Canada's centennial.
103. Like the UFO landing pad in St. Paul, Alta…
104. …which was a world first, by the way.
105. And the famous Expo 67 dome
106. …which survived a raging fire in 1976.
107. Canada also spawned IMAX when we turned 100.

Our best and brightest

You didn't think we'd let you escape without a little bit of humble bragging, right? Canada has the world's longest:

108. Recreational trail. (The Trans Canada Trail, a.k.a. The Great Trail.) 
109. Street. (Okay, so this one's not officially true anymore. There's a disputed stretch that complicates things.) 
110. Beaver dam. (At Wood Buffalo National Park.)
111. And beard on a living male. (Sarwan Singh of Surrey, B.C. holds the Guinness World Record.)

Judges measure the beard of Sarwan Singh during a ceremony in Surrey, British Columbia on November 11, 2008. He currently holds the Guinness World Record for longest beard, last listed as 2.495 m. (Andy Clark/Reuters)

112. We've got the world's deepest underground clean lab.
113. Not to mention the most polar bears,
114. maple syrup
115. and doughnut shops per capita. 

Here are a bunch of inventions we can claim. (And if you think this list was easy to whip up, try claiming credit for the zipper or lacrosse.)

116. Basketball
117. Bloody Caesar
118. Canadarm
119. Garbage bag
120. Goalie mask
121. Insulin
122. Poutine
123. Snowblower
124. Snowmobile
125. Telephone
126. Walkie-talkie
127. Wonderbra
128. Alkaline battery
129. Cardiac pacemaker
130. Caulking gun
131. Computerized braille
132. Egg carton
133. Electric wheelchair
134. Electric organ
135. Five pin bowling
136. Foghorn
137. Gas mask
138. Instant mashed potatoes
139. Java programming language
140. Jolly Jumper
141. Keyframe animation
142. Pablum
143. Paint roller
144. Peanut butter
145. Prosthetic hands (Specifically, a five-fingered electrical hand for children.)
146. Robertson screwdriver
147. Rotary snowplow
148. Standard time
149. And don't forget Trivial Pursuit! A game filled with "useless tidbits of information," according to this 1979 CBC News report.

And finally, if you actually read to the end of this list, you will likely agree with this final thought forced into fact shape:

150. As great as trivia can be, we also really need context. Because fact is: Canada's stories need so much more than 150 seconds. 

(Although we hope a link-laden article helps too.) 

Over to you! Are you a die-hard Canadian trivia geek? Send us your favourite factoids or notes about the ones listed here. And if you have a related personal story (like, that time you accidentally ended up in Come By Chance, N.L.) email us at