Posted on Jun 29, 2017

Every Thursday of the year, for longer than Katie has been around, I have faithfully posted an assortment of things on this page; Heartland news, photos, Q & As, trivia, facts, and info related to our series. There will be a bit of that here, but for the most part, I wish to write about my country - Canada.

For a lot of you, most of this blog will be old news because, like myself, you and everyone else who works on television's favourite family drama, are Canadian. But for others, your only exposure to Canada will be from watching Heartland. So for you, in recognition of the 150th anniversary of my country's confederation, indulge me as I offer the following...

In two days' time, on Saturday, July 1, 2017, it will be the sesquicentennial of Canada becoming a country, which occurred on July 1, 1867. On that day three British colonies - New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Canada - were united into the Dominion of Canada. At the same time, that large existing Province of Canada was divided into two provinces - Ontario and Quebec. Thus Canada started as a country of four provinces which eventually expanded west (and east) until it became what it is today; comprised of 10 provinces and 3 territories.

The last province to join Confederation was Newfoundland when the then Dominion of Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. The last territory to be created was Nunavut, which in 1999 was divided from the existing Northwest Territories.

So on Saturday, we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. I hope all Canadians, home and abroad are able to, in some way, celebrate this milestone of our great nation. And if you are not Canadian you are most likely reading this because of your attachment to the longest running one-hour dramatic series in Canadian television history, Heartland!

Next Thursday I will get back to the series. In fact, I think it's a grand time for an "Ask the Blog Whisperer Anything" blog, so if you have a Heartland question, go ahead and post it in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer anything you have to enquire about.

And I am going to post a special Facebook message to our fans in the United States on their Independence Day - Tuesday, July 4 - going over the different and changing ways season 10 of Heartland will be available.

But today it is all about Canada, so indulge me. Rather than write long paragraphs I am going to present 10 interesting bits of knowledge about our homeland in a Q & A format. I hope you find them informative and educational.

Q: Where does the name Canada come from?

A: The most accepted theory is that a St. Lawrence Iroquoian tribe who encountered French explorer Jacques Cartier used the word 'kanata' which in their language meant village or settlement. Cartier in his writings wrote 'Canada,' to reference not only the village he was directed to but the entire area.

Q: How large is Canada?

A: Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world by total area (behind Russia), covering 9.98 million square kilometres. It is the 4th largest country in the world by land area, excluding water (behind Russia, China, and the United States), which brings us to this jaw-dropping fact;

FACT: Canada has more lakes than all the other countries in the world combined!

Q: What are Canada's official languages?

A: English and French. English is spoken across the country while in the province of Quebec, 80% of the province's population are native Francophones. 95% of the people of the province speak French as their first or second language. The City of Montreal in Quebec is the 4th largest French-speaking city in the world (after Paris, Kinshasa, and Abidjan).

Q: What is the population of Canada and where do most Canadians live?

A: At 35,152,000, Canada's population is roughly one-ninth of the adjacent United States. 82% of Canada's population resides in large and medium size cities. Approximately 75% of the country's population lives within 160 km (100 miles) of the United States. This does not include the 1.254 million folks living in the High River-Millarville-Calgary area where Heartland is filmed. The distance from this area to the Montana (U.S.) border is 328 km (204 miles). 

FACT: Canada's population density is 3.7 persons per square kilometre, among the lowest in the world. By comparison, Monaco has a population density of 18,589 persons per square kilometre.

Q: What is Canada's motto?

A: It is Latin for "From Sea to Sea" - A Mari Usque Ad Mare. From a Heartland perspective, it's nice to see "Mare" in there (I crack myself up!).

Q: What are prominent symbols associated with Canada?

A: There are a few. First and foremost is the Maple Leaf, which is prominently located on the Canadian flag. There are ten varieties of maple trees that grow in Canada but it is tough to locate any in Alberta.

FACT: The maple leaf on the Canadian flag has 11 points but they carry no special significance. The design was chosen after wind tunnel tests found the 11-point leaf was the least blurry when tested under the high wind conditions.

Other symbols of Canada include the beaver, the Canada goose, the common loon, and the federal and national police force of our country, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or the Mounties, which are readily recognized internationally by their dress uniforms with their bright red tunics. The photo at the top of this page is from episode 705: Thread the Needle, when The RCMP Musical Ride participated in a Heartland episode.

FACT: The world's longest beaver dam was 850m (2,789 feet) long, located in northern Alberta.

Q: What is Canada's national sport?

A: There are two national sports. In 1994 the National Sports Act of Canada decreed that lacrosse is recognized and declared to be the national summer sport of Canada while ice hockey is the national winter sport of Canada.

Q: Is it true if you write Santa Claus from anywhere you will get a reply from Canada?

A: Yep. Write in any language and address your card or letter to: NORTH POLE, H0H 0H0, Canada and watch what happens (I think Santa doesn’t work during the summer months; he was spotted last week taking selfies with some elves in front of Maggie's Diner in High River).

Q: Is it true Canada has the majority of the world's polar bears?

A: Yes. Of the world's 25,000 polar bears, 15,500 live in Canada.

FACT: The vehicle license plates for the Northwest Territories are in the shape of a polar bear.

Q: Why does Heartland air on CBC at 7:00 pm everywhere but Newfoundland and why does it air there at 7:30 pm?

A: The island of Newfoundland is located east of the other Maritime Provinces (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). In order to have the sun rise and set at roughly the same time as every other province in the country, the special half-hour time zone was allotted to the province. So when it’s 7:30 pm Sunday in Newfoundland Heartland airs on CBC at exactly the same time as it airs in the other Maritime Provinces, even though it starts at 7:00 pm there.

FACT: Not only does the continental U.S. not have a Newfoundland Time Zone, they also do not have an Atlantic Time zone, as Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are east of the U.S.’s eastern most state, Maine. However, the territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands do fall under Atlantic Time.  

Well then, that really is it for me. I hope some of you enjoyed this diversion from the Heartland norm, but hey! Canada only turns 150 once, so I hope you’ll understand.

Next week I’ll be answering your Heartland questions that you post below in the comments section. Until then I remain - vigorously waving my maple leaf flag this Saturday – obediently yours.