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Learn about our neighbor to the north: Canada

Quebec City is located on the Saint Lawrence River in the French-speaking Quebec province.

Canada, our neighbor to the north. It’s just like the United States, right? Except with stranger money. Well, not exactly. Many visitors are surprised when they get to Canada that many things are not at all like you’ll find in the “states.”

To teach your children about Canada first, find the country on a map, or a globe. From the Santa Clarita Valley, Vancouver, British Columbia is 1,279 miles away. You can drive there in about 20 hours. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is 2,843 miles away. It would take 42 hours of driving to reach Ottawa from the SCV.  

Facts about Canada

Canada is the second largest country in the world. Only Russia has a larger land area. Canada’s total area measures 3,854,844 square miles. The United States is close behind at third largest with 3,797,000 square miles.

Canada is the most educated country in the world. At least 56 percent of the total population has earned a post-secondary degree after high-school, 6 percent more people than second-place Japan. The United States ranks sixth.

Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world, combined. There are 3 million lakes in Canada. And, it is home to 20 percent of the world’s fresh water. Not surprisingly, Canada has the world’s longest coastline at 164,988 miles. If you walk non-stop around the Canadian coastline, it would take about 4.5 years.

Hockey and lacrosse are Canada’s national sports. Because of the lengthy Canadian winters skiing, skating, curling and other winter sports and activities are very popular.

Ogopogo, similar to the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland, is a mythical creature living in Okanagan Lake, British Columbia.

The Canadian flag features a red maple leaf on a field of white with red bars on either end.

Wheat is the most important cultivated crop produced in Canada with nearly 50 percent of it grown in the province of Saskatchewan.

Canada converted to the metric system in 1970. Temperature is measured in Celsius, distance in kilometers, speed in kilometers per hour, volume in liters and weight in kilograms.

Canada celebrates Canada Day (July 1 this year), Victoria Day (May 20), Family Day (Feb. 18), Civic Holiday (Aug. 5) and Boxing Day (Dec. 26). They also celebrate Christmas, New Year’s, Labour Day, Thanksgiving (Oct. 14) and Remembrance Day (Nov. 11). Not all holidays are national holidays, some are celebrated only by certain provinces.


Canada is made up of 10 provinces and three territories. The provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan. The territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

It has a parliamentary system and a constitutional monarchy. The present queen of Canada is Elizabeth II, also the queen of the United Kingdom. However, the Statute of Westminster 1931 granted full autonomy to Canada and the Constitution Act of 1982, ended all legislative ties to the United Kingdom.

Speaking French

Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world, after Paris. Although Canada is a predominantly English-speaking country, the 2016 census found French is the native language of 7.2 million Canadians, about 20 percent of the population. Most native French-speakers live in Quebec, where it is the official language.

French settlement was established in eastern Canada by the early 17th century. Port Royal was founded in Acadia in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. French Canada fell to the British in the 18th century.

Today, the country has embraced a bilingual English/French culture with French taught to students in all schools, and public signage and commercially produced products labeled in both English and French.

Poutine is crispy fries, squeaky cheese curds and rich gravy that can be found in Canada’s McDonalds restaurants.

Famous food

When in Canada make sure you try “poutine.” It is crispy fries, squeaky cheese curds and rich gravy. This French-Canadian food is found everywhere in Canada and can be considered the “national dish.” It can even be found on the menu at every Canadian McDonalds.

Maple syrup has been produced in Canada for as long as people have lived on the land. The native population taught settlers how to make maple syrup. As such, Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of maple products, accounting for 71 per cent of the global market.

Mostly found in French-Canadian Canada, “tire d’érable,” or maple taffy, is a sugary-sweet candy prepared by pouring boiling maple syrup over snow, where the cold causes it to immediately harden. Roll it up on a popsicle stick and enjoy.

If you are craving junk food, try some ketchup, or dill pickle flavored potato chips. Hickory sticks are another favorite crispy, and uniquely Canadian, snack food.

Butter tarts are a simple, but common dessert in Canada. Help your children make their own Butter Tarts with this simple recipe.

12 (3 inch) unbaked tart shells (can be found in the frozen food case)

3/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, or to taste

Preheat oven to 425F. Place tart shells on a baking sheet; sprinkle raisins evenly into the bottom of each tart shell.

Whisk together butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt in a bowl; whisk in egg. Pour into tart shells; sprinkle tarts with walnuts.

Bake until pastry is light brown and filling is bubbly, about 12 minutes. Cool.


Moose are found across Canada, in every province and territory except for Prince Edward Island.

Canada is home to the world’s largest popular of wild bears including Polar Bears, Black Bears, Grizzlies and Kermode Bears.

From humpbacks to blue whales and orcas, Canada is the perfect whale-watching destination. Catch a glimpse of some of the 20,000 grey whales as they travel from the Baja Peninsula to Alaska.

Canadian Geese migrate between Canada and points south, including California. During the fall you can see them flying overhead in a signature “V” formation heading to warmer climes. They head back north in the spring.

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