Though Canada and the U.S. share a border (the longest one in the world), many Americans may never visit that great expanse up north. Instead, they’ll settle for the stereotypes of friendly people and lots of snow. But that is only a tiny slice of Canadian culture! Read on for a mini-history lesson and some food and drink recommendations.
Let’s start with some fun facts about Canada. It's the second largest country by area, just behind Russia. It also has the longest coastline in the world - 202,080 km (125,567 miles) of beach, though not many are white and sandy. Canada also boasts the longest shared border in the world (1538 miles) with its southern neighbor, the United States. If you travel to Canada you might notice people speaking both French and English. Don’t be surprised! Both are official languages of Canada, making it one of many bi- or multilingual countries around the world.
While Europeans came to Canada in the early 1600s, the lineage of Canadian people runs far deeper. Vikings first settled on the east coast of Canada in 1000 A.D. But the earliest explorers left behind now 20,000-year-old stone tools in caves of the northern Yukon, marking the earliest recognized evidence of humans in North America.
Canada is an independent country, but is a part of the Commonwealth of Nations. This group was originally comprised of territories of the British Empire, and has since expanded to include other independent nations around the world. Though Canada was once ruled by Britain, it now functions as a democracy while still recognizing the British monarch as their Head of State.
Despite its great size, Canada ranks 38th in world population with 35.6 million people calling it home. To put that in perspective, China is number one in world population with nearly 1.4 billion people and the U. S. is number two with almost 1.3 billion people. Much of northern Canada is uninhabited due to arctic conditions, a contributing factor to Canada’s low population density. But there is more to Canada than snowy tundra! The major cities of Canada offer a wide range of activities and unique attractions. There are also a number of islands to visit around Canada’s record-setting coastline offering everything from outdoor adventures to fine dining and shopping.
Operation World lists several prayer points for Canada, most centered on supporting mission efforts both overseas as well as among immigrant populations within the country. Let’s be praying for a renewed vision for preparing and sending missionaries from Canada to the rest of the world – whether that be a geographical move or by caring for and ministering to their neighbors from other countries.
This week, I’m dreaming of spring! Temperatures are warming up in Dallas and I’m craving longer days, open windows, and dinners on the patio. In honor of the changing seasons, I’m serving up some cocktails with the help of some Canadian friends of mine.
Typically you can find authentic, locally inspired recipes from the countries we’re talking about here. While Moscow mules may not be a Canadian specialty (legend has it the drink originated in L.A. in the 1930s), you can get some mighty fine Moscow mule mugs from a company in Vancouver!
Now that you’re armed with Canadian historical facts, I’d also like to offer you insight on life in Canada from a local. Jessica from Moscow Muled teamed up with me to bring you a few important things to know about the place she calls home. I asked her to fill us in on some little known facts about Canada, as well as classic foods to try out. Here’s what she said!
“While most of Canada is cold and snowy all winter long, I live in a place where it rarely snows. I live in Vancouver, British Columbia and instead of snow we get lots and lots of rain in the winter. On the plus side of this, the coniferous trees and grass are lush and green year round but the downside is that we get very little sun over the winter. By spring, Vancouverites are so desperate for vitamin D it’s palpable.”
“It may be cliche, but poutine is a very Canadian dish and it’s oh so satisfying. French fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy - can you think of a better combination?”
“The air is really clean up here. I’ve heard many stories of people deciding to move to British Columbia after breathing the fresh air. How cool is that?”
At Jessica’s suggestion I sought out some poutine in Dallas, which was easier to find than I thought! Maple Leaf Diner serves up Canadian favorites all day long and has a weekend brunch wait that’s no joke. I picked up a full order of their poutine to go and got to enjoy all the goodness in my jammies and it didn’t disappoint!
Jessica also hooked me up with a couple beautiful copper mugs perfect for cocktail sipping and spring weather! Her mugs are handcrafted and beautifully detailed. They’re also lined with nickel. This is an important component that protects you from potentially dangerous health effects of ingesting too much copper, which is a heavy metal.
Moscow mules are relatively easy to make and only require a few ingredients – vodka, ginger beer, and some lime juice will give you a simple, classic version. You can certainly dress them up and add your own twist! I found a basic recipe here but if you’re adventurous try out one of the following links for a Moscow mule with a twist - option one or option two.
Finding some great copper mugs doesn’t mean you have to only use them for Moscow mules! We use them to sip kombucha on overcast afternoons, and hot chocolate on cooler days. If you’re looking for some Canadian beverage options, try out a Bloody Caesar or a Yukon Jack. Or try any other bev that comes to mind. Experiment! What’s your favorite springtime drink?
“Country Comparison :: Population.” Central Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2119rank.html.
Haque, Alicia. “20 Random Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Canada.” Huffpost, Huffpost Lifestyle, 30 June 2016, www.huffingtonpost.com/alicia-haque/10-things-you-didnt-know-_15_b_10744416.html.
Lehnardt, Karin. “43 Interesting Facts about Canada.” Fact Retriever, 5 Dec. 2016, www.factretriever.com/canada-facts.
Morton, William Lewis, et al. “Canada.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 27 Feb. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Canada.
Reid, Daniel. “10 Mind-Boggling Facts About Canada.” Reader's Digest, www.readersdigest.ca/travel/canada/10-mind-boggling-facts-about-canada/view-all/.