Happy Canada Day Fireworks

Oh! CANADA! – eh?

Canada Day Ottawa, Ontario - Federal Parliament Buildings

Canada Day Ottawa, Ontario – Federal Parliament Buildings

Whoever says we Canadians don’t have pride of country doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  We’re not loud, but we’re proud!

Flag of Canada with Maple LeavesLike many of us, I tend to grumble about winter weather when I know others are having perpetual summers, but what the heck!  They have their air-conditioners on all the time, don’t they?  We don’t need to, except in the hottest months of summer.  All we need is a good heating system, a sweater or two, some warm winter clothing for outdoors, (including a good hat), and the common sense to stay indoors in the middle of a blizzard. Canadian Winter Clothing (Olympics)Here in Toronto, we have The Canadian Shield and The Niagara Escarpment protecting us like an umbrella from the most severe weather, although sometimes Nature tests our complacency with a large dump of snowfall.  Most winters here have hardly any snow at all.  Now, on the other hand, London, Ontario

Western University London Ontario

Western University London Ontario

and Stratford, Ontario

Stratford Shakespearean Festival Ontario

Stratford Shakespearean Festival Ontario

and that whole corridor that stretches up to the north from “The Golden Horseshoe” can get some pretty large snowfalls, but I remember that’s one of the reasons my Mom and Dad came back from Arizona where they had spent several months each year, because Christmas just wasn’t right without the snow.

Snowbound Cars in Barrie Ontario

Snowbound Cars in Barrie Ontario

But winter aside, the rest of the year in Canada is truly spectacular.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Vancouver British Columbia

VanDusen Botanical Garden Vancouver British Columbia

The first hardy Canadian crocuses sometimes pushing their way up through snow, the healthy abundance of tulips, daffodils and forsythia bushes with all the other spring flowers tell us that winter is over for another year. Early Blooming Crocuses It’s well worth waiting through the white months of December, January, February and part of March to get the rains that open up the earth to all the beauty waiting to spring forth. Spring Tree Blossoms The trees and bushes are magnificent presenting intense yellow-greens, gradually changing to dark as summer comes along, rich, deep reds of the Manitoba maples, framed against the forest and medium greens of pines and evergreens – absolutely stunning. Atlantic coast vegetation Then summer is upon us with all its warmth and sweet breezes, summer showers, trips to the beaches, colourful flowers everywhere, with fresh fruit and vegetables appearing in Toronto’s unique and colourful Kensington Market area…

Kensington Market Toronto Ontario

Kensington Market Toronto Ontario

or Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market Toronto, Ontario.

St. Lawrence Market Toronto, Ontario.

and in Farmers’ Markets in cities, towns & villages…

Red Wing Farmers Market, Vancouver, British Columbia

Red Wing Farmers Market, Vancouver, British Columbia

and at country roadside stalls and “come pick-your-own” farms all across Canada…

Roadside market in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia (Betty Ann Deobald)

Roadside market in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia (Betty Ann Deobald)

including the great, multicultural City Market, in St.John, New Brunswick.

Famous "City Market", St. John, New Brunswick

Famous “City Market”, St. John, New Brunswick

Everywhere you travel you will find barbecues-in-the-park, attractive golf courses, neighbourhood ballgames…

Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver British Columbia

Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver British Columbia

beach sports, fishing, swimming, bocchia, theatre, jazz, picnics, festivals and outdoor cafés.

Cafe Maurizio Montreal, Quebec

Cafe Maurizio Montreal, Quebec

Summer gives way to glorious, vibrant, wild autumn, painting totally superb pictures in Algonquin Park of seas of maples, breathtaking in their abundance.

Autumn Colours in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Autumn Colours in Algonquin Park, Ontario

The air is crisper, and we know that after an Indian Summer, we will be eased into winter, where ice-skating, snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, ice sculpturing, and all the joys and beauty of winter will ease our pain past the cold..

Quiet Winter Beauty, Owen Sound Ontario

Quiet Winter Beauty, Owen Sound Ontario

(which we’re insulated against anyway, with our warm clothing – you’ve heard of our “Roots” apparel stores, right?).

Wearing "Roots" on The Rideau Canal Ottawa Ontario

Wearing “Roots” on The Rideau Canal Ottawa Ontario

Did You Know...

BUT, DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT CANADA?

Most Peaceful Countries In The World – Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, CANADA, Japan, Belgium, Norway.

Best Countries for Business In The World  – Ireland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Singapore, CANADA, Norway, Netherlands (reported Forbes.com). CANADA Has outstanding banking services, with 4 of the world’s top banks belonging to Canada. CANADA is #8 out of 185 countries posting lower corporate taxes on its citizens.

Toronto Ontario Business/Financial District

Toronto Ontario Business/Financial District

Countries With The Highest Quality of Life / Standard Of Living – Australia, Sweden, CANADA, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, United Kingdom.

Best Countries to Live in – Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, CANADA, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Australia, Austria. Over 92% of the people in CANADA are happy with their life (2013 happiest country report)

World’s Healthiest Countries – Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, CANADA (one of the world’s longest life expectancies 81M 83F), Austria, Netherlands.

World’s Cleanest Cities – (using quality of air, drinking water and life) Calgary, Alberta, CANADA is #1, followed by Ifrane (Morocco) Helsinki (Finland) Honolulu (Hawaii) Wellington (New Zealand) Adelaide (Australia) Kobe (Japan) Ottawa, Ontario CANADA #8 Reykjavik (Iceland) and Singapore.

Calgary Alberta at The Bow & Elbow Rivers on the Rocky Mountain foothills

Calgary Alberta at The Bow & Elbow Rivers on the Rocky Mountain foothills

Ottawa Ontario (our nation's capital) across the Ottawa River from Gatineau Quebec

Ottawa Ontario (our nation’s capital) across the Ottawa River from Gatineau Quebec

Best Parks In The World – (Trip.Advisor.com) Stanley Park, Vancouver, CANADA is #1, ahead of Garden of the Gods (Colorado) Central Park & High Line (NY) Millennium Park (Chicago) Kings Park & Botanic Garden in Perth, Australia, Guell Park and Retiro Park in Spain, Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo Brazil, and Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, France.

Forested Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, just off the city of Vancouver British Columbia

Forested Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, just off the city of Vancouver British Columbia

Palm Trees in Stanley Park Vancouver British Columbia

Palm Trees in Stanley Park Vancouver British Columbia

World’s Most Beautiful National Parks – In the Forbes.com list Banff National Park, Alberta CANADA stands out alongside Kakadu (Australia) Manuel Antonio (Costa Rica) Fiordland (New Zealand) Lake District (England) Swiss National Park (Switzerland) Torres del Paine (Chile) Serengeti (Tanzania) Guilin and Lijiang River (China) Fuji-Hakone-Izu (Japan) Grand Canyon, Yosemite (USA) .

Banff National Park Alberta

Banff National Park Alberta

The World’s Largest Countries – CANADA is #2, behind Russia, ahead of the USA, PR China, Brazil, Australia, India, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Sudan & South Sudan combined. (Wikipedia)

World’s Best Country to Grow Old In CANADA is #5 behind Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, and ahead of Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, Iceland and Japan. (United Nations’ Global Age Watch Index) The 14.9% of the population aged over 65 in Canada is anticipated to double in the next 25 years.

Countries With The Best Education Systems – CANADA ranks #7, behind Japan, South Korea, The United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia, and Finland, and ahead of the Netherlands, Ireland, Israel, China, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and the USA.  Of all the countries in the world, CANADA is #1 for the highest rate of college graduates. Once early childhood education is enhanced, Canada will rank much higher than #7. (eBlogfa.com)

Countries With The Best Zoos in the World, #1 Singapore Zoo, #2 Schonbrunner Zoo, Vienna, #3 Toronto Zoo, Ontario CANADA, #4 Animal Kingdom, Florida, #5 San Diego Zoo, #6 Smithsonia Zoological Park Washington DC, #7 Bronx Zoo NY, #8 National Zoological Gardens Pretoria S.Africa, #9 Zoo Basel, Switzerland, #10 Zoo Praha, Prague Czech Rep.

Polar Bears Toronto Zoo - Ontario

Polar Bears Toronto Zoo – Ontario

Best Educated Countries in the World – CANADA ranks #1, followed by Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Sweden, Israel, France, Germany, Poland, and the USA. It was noted that Canada’s access to basic knowledge index is at an unprecedented 65.0.   Canada’s education system is controlled by the different provinces, varying widely, with no national, centralized curriculum.  The education system has created one of the most skilled labor forces in the world;  attributing at least in part to Canada’s strong economy and competitive industries. (therichest.com)

Most Charitable Countries in the WorldCANADA is #3, behind Sri Lanka and Ireland, ahead of New Zealand, the USA, Netherlands, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Paraguay, and Denmark. 64% of the people donate to wide varieties of charities. (Wikipedia)

…and if all of that wasn’t enough to make Canadians proud, here’s a few more tidbits: CANADA is the #1 country “to hold good reputation” – for the third time in a row.  A good reputation all over the world. (RepTrak report). And from askushowto.com come the following rankings: – CANADA has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. – CANADA has a low unemployment rate (as low as 5%). – CANADA has the world’s longest coastline, that has expanded up to 202,080 km. – CANADA is the home to 9% of the renewable resources in the world. – CANADA is the shelter for about 55,000 different species. – CANADA has 50% of the world’s bitumen (asphalt) supply. – – CANADA is the ninth richest country in the world with a GDP Per Capita of $42,317 billion. –  CANADA is High on the list of The Best Place To Work, Invest and Study. – CANADA generated more than $81.9 billion over last year in the tourism industry.

…and also – CANADA has the longest street in the worldYonge Street from the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a distance of 1,896km (1,178 miles)…(wikipedia)

Yonge/Dundas Streets Toronto Ontario-looking north

Yonge/Dundas Streets Toronto Ontario-looking north

CANADA produced Poutine, Maple Syrup and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. – CANADA has a Canadian Forces Station Altert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island – just 834 kilometres from the North Pole, therefore we have a legitimate claim to Santa Claus.

So there you have it – not exactly in a nutshell – but the facts tell the story.  We are a great country; we have a wonderful, diverse population, who enjoy a terrific lifestyle.  We are law-abiding, friendly, with an orderly society, caring for the less fortunate; we are tolerant, multi-cultural, and we do not engage in celebrity worship.  We really do love hockey, maple syrup, Tim Bits, — our beer is the absolute best.  In sports, our attitude is “Oh, well, there’s always next year….”  But anyone who thinks we are passive and can’t be aroused, has never watched an international hockey tournament when Canada is in the mix.

Media #1

Hi! This is EJ’s daughter contributing a few videos to Mom’s “Oh! Canada! – eh?” blog.  Back in 2010, I remember watching, and thoroughly enjoying, this video shown during Canada’s Winter Olympics in British Columbia. Tom Brokaw explained Canada’s special relationship to America to the backdrop of gorgeous scenery from coast to coast.(Fred Hodgins-YouTube) 

Here’s a patriotic music video of our National Anthem “O Canada” with still shots of beautiful landscapes and architecture from across the country.  (Isabel Leong-YouTube) O Canada” is the national anthem of Canada, originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony. French lyrics were translated into English in 1906. Robert Stanley Weir wrote another English version in 1908, which is the official and most popular version (not a literal translation of the French). Weir’s lyrics have been revised twice, taking their present form in 1980.  “O Canada” had served as a de facto national anthem since 1939, officially becoming Canada’s national anthem by an Act of Parliament, effective July 1st, 1980 as part of that year’s Dominion Day celebrations. Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day in 1982. (wikipedia) 

I’ve chosen just one more video to commemorate Canada Day. It’s “The Maple Leaf Forever/Alberta Bound” as performed by Toronto’s own Pipes and Drums of The 48th Highlanders of Canada. (RaGDollxEffecT-YouTube) “The Maple Leaf Forever” is a Canadian song written by Alexander Muir (1830–1906) in 1867, the year of Canada’s Confederation. He wrote the work after serving with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866. CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show in Toronto ran a contest to find new lyrics for the song in 1997. The contest was won by Romanian immigrant, mathematician, and now a songwriter, actor and poet, Vladimir Radian, who came to Canada in the 1980s. (wikipedia)  

poetry_2Not my poem, but I love the words of our national anthem, “O Canada”, and I follow with a poem I wrote many years ago, when our little family explored this country at every opportunity.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

HOLIDAY: Canada

This is the day we have waited for
With our bags all packed and the maps at hand,
When we store our loads and lock the door
To journey half-way across this land.

We will pass the lakes which are not named,
We will ride on mountains in the clouds,
We will pass through forests still untamed,
We will see the cities, join the crowds.

We will see the prairies and fields of grain,
We will go where the mighty rivers drain,
We will hear the winds and watch the rain,
We will want to travel this road again…..

© E Joyce Finn/Collie

Canada has some of the very best scenery in the world

Here’s a sampling of spectacular Canadian landscapes for your enjoyment. I’ve tried to represent scenery from our ten provinces and three territories in different spots throughout this blog. I hope these pictures will inspire you to travel and visit for yourself.

Breathtaking Saskatchewan

Breathtaking Saskatchewan

Beautiful Quebec City Quebec

Beautiful Quebec City Quebec

Indian Head Cove Bruce Peninsula National Park Ontario

Indian Head Cove Bruce Peninsula National Park Ontario

Halifax Nova Scotia, Citadel Hill,Fort George

Halifax Nova Scotia, Citadel Hill, Fort George

Rocky Mountains British Columbia

Rocky Mountains British Columbia

A Coulée (valley) in the flat-lands of Saskatchewan

A Coulée (valley) in the flat-lands of Saskatchewan

Butchart Gardens Brentwood Bay, near Victoria British Columbia

Butchart Gardens Brentwood Bay, near Victoria British Columbia

Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls Ontario

Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls Ontario

Whirlpool Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba

Whirlpool Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba

Whale Watching along British Columbia's coastline

Whale Watching along British Columbia’s coastline

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Prairie near Rathwell, Manitoba (R.Wiebe)

Prairie near Rathwell, Manitoba (R.Wiebe)

Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve, North West Territories

Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve, North West Territories

Signal Hill and The Battery, St. Johns, Newfoundland

Signal Hill and The Battery, St. Johns, Newfoundland

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Dalvay By The Sea, Prince Edward Island

Dalvay By The Sea, Prince Edward Island

Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City (Ville de Québec) Quebec

Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City (Ville de Québec) Quebec

Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

A Night View of Toronto Skyline across Lake Ontario

A Night View of Toronto Skyline across Lake Ontario

 

Beaver - Paws For Awhile 2

The CANADIAN Beaver is native to North America and is the national animal and one of the national symbols of Canada, and is not only depicted on the Canadian five-cent piece, but also carved in statuary on our Canadian Parliament Building in Ottawa.

Beaver Sculpture over entrance to Canadian Parliament Building, Ottawa, Ontario (D.GordonE.Robertson)

Beaver Sculpture over entrance to Canadian Parliament Building, Ottawa, Ontario (D.GordonE.Robertson)

It was on the first Canadian postage stamp, the Three Penny Beaver.  It is a common school emblem for engineering schools, including the University of Alberta, and appears in the coats of arms of the Hudson’s Bay Company, University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University and the London School of Economics.  It’s called the North American Beaver, but everyone in the world knows it is OURS!  

Diagram of North American Beaver

Diagram of North American Beaver

Our Canadian Beavers are prolific breeders, explorers and homesteaders.  They usually mate for life, having one litter a year with the two to six “kits” remaining with Mom and Dad for up to two years. Their average life span is 24 years.

Baby beaver "kit" eating a carrot (Martin Fakan)

Baby beaver “kit” eating a carrot (Martin Fakan)

Excellent swimmers, beavers can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes, using their webbed hind feet like a diver’s swim fins. Their eyes have a membrane which allows them to see underwater, with nostrils and ears sealed while submerged.

Beavers are excellent swimmers

Beavers are excellent swimmers

The beaver is totally prepared for winter, with a double coat – long, coarse outer hairs and short, fine inner hairs, usually a dark brown colour, and a thick layer of fat insulation.

Beaver feeding in winter, Gatineau Park, Quebec (D.GordonE.Robertson)

Beaver feeding in winter, Gatineau Park, Quebec (D.GordonE.Robertson)

He uses glands to waterproof his fur.  Like bunnies stomping their feet, the beaver is said to slap its scaly tail on the surface of the water to signal danger.

Beaver with fur dampened by a recent swim

Beaver with fur dampened by a recent swim

Beavers are marvellous engineers, particularly as home and dam builders.  They use natural materials like sticks, twigs, trees, rocks and mud in lakes, streams and today river deltas.

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam

The lodges may be surrounded by water, touch land, or have burrows dug into the riverbank. The largest beaver dam is 2,790 ft (850m) in length (more than half a mile) discovered by satellite imagery in 2007, located on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park, northern Alberta.  It is TWICE the width of the Hoover Dam! (1,244 ft).

World's largest Beaver Dam at Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

World’s largest Beaver Dam at Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Beaver dams are natural methods of forming lakes, ponds, and wetlands.  Their dam-building talents can create artificial ponds, regulate streams, and change the landscape. The dam and the ponds provide protection against predators such as coyotes, wolves and bears.  The dam is constructed using logs from trees the beavers cut down with their excellent teeth, with inner bark, twigs, shoots and leaves being an important part of the beaver’s diet.   This can preserve a water supply in an area, while also preventing soil erosion.  Beavers work at night and are prolific builders, carrying mud and stones with their forepaws and timber between their teeth;  they can rebuild primary dams overnight. Hence the common description of a hard-working person being “busy as a beaver”.

"Busy" Beaver (Michael S. Quinton-National Geographic)

“Busy” Beaver (Michael S. Quinton-National Geographic)

Like most Canadians, the Beaver is a good neighbour, helping many of his wildlife friends – and man.  Almost half of endangered and threatened species in North America rely upon wetlands… and beaver dams create them. Trumpeter swans and Canada Geese often depend on beaver lodges as nesting sites.  Removing pond side trees increases the shrub layer, enhancing waterfowl nesting cover and the insects they feed on. “Drowned” trees become ideal nesting sites for woodpeckers who carve cavities attracting many other bird species, such as flycatchers, tree swallows, tits, wood ducks, goldeneyes, mergansers, owls and kestrels.  Songbirds in particular benefit by the habitat created by the beaver pond. 

Beaver Lodge, northern Ontario

Beaver Lodge, northern Ontario

The ponds are used for fishing by herons, grebes, cormorants, bitterns, great and snowy egrets, mergansers and belted kingfishers.  The ponds have a beneficial effect on trout (brook, rainbow, brown) and sockeye salmon populations, increasing fish numbers and size.  Frog and toad larvae benefit from the warm, well-oxygenated water of a beaver pond.  Ponds increase stream flows in seasonally dry streams by storing run-off in the rainy season.  Five-lined Skink, Northern Brown Snake, Eastern Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle, Common Musk Turtle are more abundant along beaver streams. Even when beaver abandon a locality, their dam eventually breaks, the pond drains, leaving behind a large open meadow, with nutrient-rich soil from the organic sediment that settled to the bottom when it was a pond. These “beaver meadows” have more light penetration, higher soil moisture, more nitrogen, and a different vegetation.

Beaver Lodge Construction

Beaver Lodge Construction

Dr Hugh Ross reports that a geological, geophysical team at Colorado State University disclosed that the ponds created by beaver dams help purify our lakes, rivers and waterways, creating environments for processing nitrogen and storing carbon, removing much of both from the water. Oxygen depletion causes dead zones for fish and other animal populations, and beaver dams could reverse these conditions where they exist.  Chlorinated water combines with carbon, producing a variety of cancer-causing chemicals, which can be reduced by beaver dams and canals which remove carbon, thus reducing the accumulation of these carcinogens. Some herbicides and pesticides introduced into streams by agriculture, are metabolized and decomposed by the bacteria in the cellulose-rich bottom of a beaver dam.

Beaver gnawing on a tree trunk - West Nipissing Ontario

Beaver gnawing on a tree trunk – West Nipissing Ontario

Beaver once numbered between 100 to 200 million, but were nearly wiped out, so European Gentlemen could wear their tall beaver hats and the ladies could trim their coats with beaver fur. 

"Gentleman's" Beaver Felt Hat, Fort Langley National Historic Site, British Columbia (TheMightyQuill-Wikimedia)

“Gentleman’s” Beaver Felt Hat, Fort Langley National Historic Site, British Columbia (TheMightyQuill-Wikimedia)

Full Length Coats Trimmed in Beaver, Otter, Opossum & Ermine & a Fur Boa (Jacques Nam-1912)

Full Length Coats Trimmed in Beaver, Otter, Opossum & Ermine & a Fur Boa (Jacques Nam-1912)

Beaver were also relocated or exterminated because of their persistence in repairing damage to their dams.  Now the population has rebounded to an estimated 10 to 15 million, and non-lethal “Beaver Deceiver” flow devices (invented & pioneered by wildlife biologist Skip Lisle) are used by Canadian & US governments. Flow devices are relatively cost-effective, low-maintenance solutions that regulate the water level of beaver dams and keep culverts open and allow man and beaver to live together harmoniously. (wikipedia)

Beaver can live happily and productively with all they require to survive &  we can keep our roads, fields and homes free from flooding.

Beaver happily munching, and munching, and munching (Steve Hersey)

Beaver happily munching, and munching, and munching (Steve Hersey)

I leave my Paws For Awhile section with one last item for you. Pictures are wonderful, but a video can show you even more about a special little critter like the Beaver. Here’s a 1936 “Canadian Cameo”documentary “Produced By Special Arrangement with The National Parks of Canada” showing one of Canada’s early conservationists Archibald Belaney (an ex Brit known as Grey Owl) who turned from trapper to protector of the Canadian Beaver. The short historical film features an interesting beaver dubbed “Little Brother” that Grey Owl befriended as an orphan. I hope you enjoy this video my daughter discovered called “Grey Owl’s Strange Guests” (stromgull-YouTube):

Canada with Flag

Yes, I’m proud, very proud, to be a Canadian.  And I’ve only just barely scratched the surface as to why.

Happy 147th Birthday Canada!

Signing off….. ej

 

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