Today's fact about Canada

sly_karma

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Canadians love ice skating in all its various forms, and teaching your kids to skate is close to universal, like teaching them to ride a bike. Learning to ski is much less widespread, especially since there are few ski resorts of note in the un-mountainous Quebec City-Windsor corridor where 60% of Canadians live.

Interesting, then, that the three highest elevation skating facilities in Canada all have skiing connections.
  • Lake Louise, AB - 1750 m ASL (natural lake ice with maintained surface)
  • Big White, BC - 1670 m (constructed facility, natural freezing)
  • Apex Mountain Resort, BC - 1630 m (constructed facility, natural freezing)
 

sly_karma

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Governor General Julie Payette resigned today after three years in office. Her term has been under a cloud for some months following allegations from staff members of abusive behaviour and a toxic work environment. The report from an investigation is about to released and it seems likely the PM asked her to resign.
 

cqen2l

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Canadians love ice skating in all its various forms, and teaching your kids to skate is close to universal, like teaching them to ride a bike. Learning to ski is much less widespread, especially since there are few ski resorts of note in the un-mountainous Quebec City-Windsor corridor where 60% of Canadians live.

Interesting, then, that the three highest elevation skating facilities in Canada all have skiing connections.
  • Lake Louise, AB - 1750 m ASL (natural lake ice with maintained surface)
  • Big White, BC - 1670 m (constructed facility, natural freezing)
  • Apex Mountain Resort, BC - 1630 m (constructed facility, natural freezing)
I’ve skated and played a scratch hockey game at Big White. :)
 
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sly_karma

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A foreign flag has flown above the Canadian parliament buildings on just one occasion. The flag was that of the Netherlands and the year was 1943. The flag was raised to celebrate the birth of Princess Margriet, to her parents Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard. The Dutch royal family escaped Holland in front of the Nazi invasion in 1940 and spent the remainder of the war years in Canada. Just prior to the birth, the Canadian government temporarily disclaimed the Ottawa Civic Hospital property, making it international territory so that the princess would be indisputably born a Dutch citizen only.

The two countries have a special relationship largely based on this and other events during WW2. Canadian forces were responsible for the liberation of the Netherlands, and for the famine relief operations integrated with the military actions. Because they successfully and rapidly distributed food to areas deliberately cut off from supplies by the Germans, the Canadian soldiers were seen not just as liberators but also as saviours. In 1946, Dutch families sent tens of thousands of tulip bulbs to Canada to show their appreciation, and the following year the royal family followed suit. This token of the emotional bond continues today, with the Royal contributions forming the basis of the annual Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa.

The Dutch celebrate May 5 as Liberation Day, and this date is also officially proclaimed in Canada. Dutch monarchs have made regular official visits to Canada in the postwar years. During those years, many people emigrated to Canada to make a permanent home; there are now more than a million Canadians of Dutch descent.
 

sly_karma

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Ooh another border anomaly and dispute! There were quite a few of them in this period caused by treaties signed in Europe, and without a detailed survey of the territory they were blithely carving up. I've written in the past about the Pig War, a squabble over some of the San Juan Islands in the Strait between the mainland and Vancouver Island.
 
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sly_karma

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Some big snow coming for BC coastal regions this weekend. A polar high pressure system that has been sitting over the interior with jeezus cold temps is blowing air outward. As the wind pushes westward across the Coast Range, it is funneled through the big river valleys and coastal inlets, producing achingly cold windchill values down toward -30 or more. The cold dry air crosses the Salish Sea and picks up moisture, then is uplifted by the mountain spine that runs the length of Vancouver Island. The normally mild and dry east shore of the island will get 30 cm of snow at sea level, and Mt Washington and other upland areas will see 60 cm or more of blower pow.

This is an occasional weather pattern here whereas it is the prevailing system for northern Japan. Known as "upslope snow", it will yield the best days of the season for Island skiers. Conversely, Whistler has its back to these winds and will see maybe a quarter of the snow. It relies on the more typical westerly flows coming off the Pacific. Inland ski areas get a week of calm air, bright sunshine, -30 temperatures and not a flake of snow.

As the high breaks down, there may be snow brought with the returning maritime airmass. If the incoming Pacific system is fairly warm and damp, the more likely scenario is freezing rain. Precip lands on ground and surfaces that are still well below zero and freezes instantly. Everything is coated with ice. If the precip is sufficiently heavy, ice buildup can cause widespread damage to trees and power lines as the rapid weight increase overwhelms structures.
 

sly_karma

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Although freezing rain is a fairly common occurrence in Central and Eastern Canada, nothing can compare to the devastating ice storm of 1998, when parts of Eastern Ontario and Southern Quebec saw ice buildups 60-80 mm thick, with localised extremes measured at 130 mm. Massive damage to the power grid was sustained, with around 1000 metal transmission towers and 35,000 wooden utility poles toppled. This was despite a major upgrade in standards following a damaging ice storm in 1961 that dropped an then-unprecedented 40-50 mm.

The 1998 storm caused governments to call on the military for help, and the subsequent deployment of 16,000 Canadian Forces personnel was then - and remains - the largest since the Korean War. Millions of subscribers in metro Montreal and Ottawa were without power for over a week, and 30 died due to hypothermia or CO poisoning as people used BBQs and other fuel devices to heat their homes during the severe cold that followed the ice storm. Diesel/electric locomotives were pushed into service as generators to supply entire neighbourhoods with temporary power.

Damage to the power grid was so extensive that around 150,000 in suburban Montreal were still in the dark more than three weeks after the storm. Major reconstruction of the grid was necessary and took more than a year to complete. Disruption was felt right across the heavily populated US northeast since Quebec is a major supplier of hydro power to the continent's power system.

Freezing rain and ice storms are probably the most lethal weather events in Canada. Even light freezing rain renders roads almost undrivable, and huge highway pileups sometimes happen, typically when the first hour of the event (before most drivers are attuned to the danger) coincides with commuter hour in one of the big cities.
 

sly_karma

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The St Lawrence seaway was in its time one of the largest Civil engineering projects in the world. After many decades of proposals followed by blocked legislation on both sides of the border, the Seaway was constructed in just five years (1955-59). Seagoing vessels have direct access from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes in the geographic heart of North America. Grain and minerals shipped from remote ports such as Duluth (Minnesota, US) and Thunder Bay (Ontario, Canada) travels more than 4000 km to reach open ocean in the Gulf of St Lawrence.

The Seaway is a complex collection of locks, canals and hydroelectric dams, with almost all of these upstream of Montreal. It can be roughly divided into a lower section (sea level to Lk Ontario) and an upper (Lk Ontario to Lk Superior). The most extreme height gain is achieved in the Welland Canal, which climbs the Niagara Escarpment, bypassing the famous falls. The short run between lakes Ontario and Erie climbs 99 m/325 ft in its 43 km (27 miles) length, using eight locks. The original iteration of the Welland Canal was built in 1832, with the Seaway being the fourth and largest version.

Today, changes in world markets and transport connecting them has left the Seaway behind to some extent. Its locks are considerably smaller than the Panamax standard, and North American grain exports these days are mostly to Asia and South America rather than Europe as was the case when the project was built. Pacific coast ports are now responsible for the majority of grain and coal exports via rail connections. Shipping volumes have fallen from 200 million tons a year to 40-50 million currently, and half of that is trade between US and Canada. There have been calls for an expansion project that would see international oil supertankers able to directly access Great Lakes terminals, but the costs are in the billions and no international funding agreement has yet been signed.
 

sly_karma

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The longest ice hockey game ever played just wrapped up in suburban Edmonton. The fundraising effort for cancer research ran for 252 hours on outdoor ice as western Canada went through a polar outbreak with temperatures dropping below -30C. Two teams of 20 players each battled each other in shifts around the clock. It was so cold at times that the rubber pucks became brittle and dozens of them shattered over the ten and a half days of play.

Run with the blessing of provincial health authorities due to its elaborate COVID safety protocols, the marathon game exceeded its targets and raised $1.8 million. The event has been run eight times and has succeeded each time in lifting the world record higher. Official score: Team Hope defeated Team Cure, by a score of 2649 to 2528.
 

sly_karma

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Iconic images of Canadian loggers and river men driving individual logs or ferrying huge rafts down rivers are most associated with the Ottawa River valley that formed the border between the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada (today's provinces of Ontario and Quebec). Largely undisturbed until the beginning of the 19th century, these forests suddenly became strategic resources due the Napoleonic wars. The Royal Navy lost access to its Baltic suppliers for masts, spars and hull timbers, and had to immediately find another source. The Ottawa Valley's vast stands of red and white pine, tamarack and white cedar proved to be the answer. The logs were assembled into booms and crews embarked on the downriver trip to Quebec City where they could be transferred into ocean-going vessels. The trip took 4-6 weeks and the men camped in tents and rough shacks built on the floating log raft. The booms required constant vigilance to address logs jamming against the river banks and other obstacles. It was exacting and dangerous work.

Terms from the old log driving days still remain in common use today. "Log jam" was originally the most feared situation in the annual log drive with roving crews constantly working to prevent them. All manner of methods were used, up to and including the use of dynamite. "High and dry" referred to logs or timbers stranded when river levels receded as the spring snow melt ended. "Come hell or high water" expressed determination to complete the winter's logging targets and get the logs onto nearby creek banks in time for the spring freshet to float them to market.

The Ottawa Valley's boom times ended around 1900, with most accessible timber stands now logged out, a move to steel ships powered by steam, the rise of rail transportation and an end to Britain's tariff protection of its former colonies. The timber era had brought great prosperity to the area and its main population centre, Bytown, had become the capital of the new Dominion of Canada, being renamed Ottawa in the process.
 

sly_karma

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Life in cold weather: train crew rescued a bobcat they found stuck to railway tracks. The cat had killed a duck and got wet in the process, then got frozen to the very cold rails. Fortunately a bucket of warm water freed the little predator before the next train came through.
https://infotel.ca/newsitem/bobcat-frozen-to-train-track-near-trail-rescued-by-conductor/it81027

Bobcats are widely distributed across Southern Canada, although they are shy of humans. Due to their smaller size and versatility, they have not been demonized as livestock killers and heavily hunted to the same extent as larger predators such as cougars and wolves. Typical adult bobcat is roughly double the size of a house cat. They live in a wide range of habitats including boreal forest, dry plains and steppe, swamps, urban fringes. Main prey is birds, but quite adaptable.
 

bigwhite-rameok

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Iconic images of Canadian loggers and river men driving individual logs or ferrying huge rafts down rivers are most associated with the Ottawa River valley that formed the border between the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada (today's provinces of Ontario and Quebec). Largely undisturbed until the beginning of the 19th century, these forests suddenly became strategic resources due the Napoleonic wars. The Royal Navy lost access to its Baltic suppliers for masts, spars and hull timbers, and had to immediately find another source. The Ottawa Valley's vast stands of red and white pine, tamarack and white cedar proved to be the answer. The logs were assembled into booms and crews embarked on the downriver trip to Quebec City where they could be transferred into ocean-going vessels. The trip took 4-6 weeks and the men camped in tents and rough shacks built on the floating log raft. The booms required constant vigilance to address logs jamming against the river banks and other obstacles. It was exacting and dangerous work.

Terms from the old log driving days still remain in common use today. "Log jam" was originally the most feared situation in the annual log drive with roving crews constantly working to prevent them. All manner of methods were used, up to and including the use of dynamite. "High and dry" referred to logs or timbers stranded when river levels receded as the spring snow melt ended. "Come hell or high water" expressed determination to complete the winter's logging targets and get the logs onto nearby creek banks in time for the spring freshet to float them to market.

The Ottawa Valley's boom times ended around 1900, with most accessible timber stands now logged out, a move to steel ships powered by steam, the rise of rail transportation and an end to Britain's tariff protection of its former colonies. The timber era had brought great prosperity to the area and its main population centre, Bytown, had become the capital of the new Dominion of Canada, being renamed Ottawa in the process.

And from the annals of the National Film Board is the catchy "Log Drivers Waltz" Canada Vignettes - Log Driver's Waltz (1979) - YouTube
 

sly_karma

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I caught some of that story yesterday on CBC radio. Guy was so matter of fact. "Grab them by the scruff of the neck like all mother felines do, they will go limp and submissive." Sounds reasonable in theory, but how do you pull it off without losing an arm?
 

Chalkie

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OMG !!! how funny. Butter dramas

I had cause to work with some butter today. It softened perfectly satisfactorily.

In other news from Canada (as reported by the esteemed @sly_karma elsewhere: RIP 2021), two days of news bulletins in a row have devoted significant time to the death of the father of The Great One (aka Wayne Gretzky (Today's fact about Canada), who is so important in Canada that he has an entry in the new immigrant "Welcome to Canda" textbook one is required to study for one's citizenship test).

I can't even imagine what will happen when The Great One dies. There will be at least a week of national mourning, doubtless.
 

skifree

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I had cause to work with some butter today. It softened perfectly satisfactorily.

In other news from Canada (as reported by the esteemed @sly_karma elsewhere: RIP 2021), two days of news bulletins in a row have devoted significant time to the death of the father of The Great One (aka Wayne Gretzky (Today's fact about Canada), who is so important in Canada that he has an entry in the new immigrant "Welcome to Canda" textbook one is required to study for one's citizenship test).

I can't even imagine what will happen when The Great One dies. There will be at least a week of national mourning, doubtless.
Seems fair.
 

sly_karma

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With hockey being Canada's favourite winter sport, it should be no surprise that there are a host of fundraising games organized every year. But there was a unique team that existed solely to play charity events: the Flying Fathers. This team started in Northern Ontario in 1963 and was made up of Catholic priests, led by Fr Les Costello, who had won a Stanley Cup playing with the Leafs 15 years earlier and had then entered the priesthood. Originally formed for a single game to pay for a child's medical crisis, the team was such a success that it became a semi-regular fixture, playing hundreds of games and raising over $5 million across four decades. They were much loved for a host of on-ice antics, including penalties for missing mass, pie in the face, even the occasional appearance of a football. When asked by a media interviewer for the secret to their success, Fr Costello answered, "We cheat!"
 

main street

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165122443_3852709311442738_2787186330104422958_o.png
 
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robbo mcs

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Love how Banting and Macleods discovery of Insulin ranks below inventing peanut butter:D

One of the great medical breakthroughs of the 20th Century, earned them a nobel prize, put medical scientists on track to treat type 1 diabetes. At that time type 1 diabetes was universally fatal, it was like getting a diagnosis of super aggressive cancer. The discovery conservatively has saved 100 million lives over the last century. But peanut butterLOL

At least Australia can claim a part in the discovery and implementation of Penicillin, thanks to Florey. Probably the only other medical innovation of the 20th century to rank with Insulin. We did invent vegemite too:confused:
 

gareth_oau

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Love how Banting and Macleods discovery of Insulin ranks below inventing peanut butter:D

One of the great medical breakthroughs of the 20th Century, earned them a nobel prize, put medical scientists on track to treat type 1 diabetes. At that time type 1 diabetes was universally fatal, it was like getting a diagnosis of super aggressive cancer. The discovery conservatively has saved 100 million lives over the last century. But peanut butterLOL

At least Australia can claim a part in the discovery and implementation of Penicillin, thanks to Florey. Probably the only other medical innovation of the 20th century to rank with Insulin. We did invent vegemite too:confused:

discovering insulin? Meh!
 

Chalkie

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The Commonwealth is taking a beating, and not just for the Meghan and Harry shenanigans.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid-pandemic-uk-commonwealth-1.5964512

I think it's sad. The problem is that a loose association of nations united by being former colonies of one of them is never going to be more than that. And the UK kinda turned its back on the Commonwealth as its gaze shifted to Europe. If the UK had remained committed to the ideals of the Commonwealth as a replacement for Empire, and put more effort into navigating the complexities of trying to keep disparate former members of the Empire together, the Commonwealth might have stood a chance. But the Commonwealth has had a slow and steady decline as anything meaningful, and l point the finger at the UK for that. I think when QEII's reign ends, the Commonwealth could well disband, or simply wither into history.
 

sly_karma

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Canada's one dollar coin is fondly referred to as a "loonie", due to the image of a Common Loon on its reverse face (the loon is a large water bird that is found in all Canadian provinces). A one dollar coin had been circulated as early as 1935, but it was little used for several decades due to its weight and cost of production. This coin was initially made of silver and was referred to as the 'voyageur dollar' due to its image of a voyageur paddling a canoe. In the 1980s, the Royal Canadian Mint moved to make a one dollar coin that would replace the paper notes in common circulation, saving tens of millions in production cost due the coins' superior longevity.

The designers of the new coin intended for it to continue using the voyageur image, but the dies were lost in transit from Ottawa to the Mint in Winnipeg. An investigation found that Mint officials had used a common courier in order to save $43.50. The Mint suspected the dies were stolen rather than misplaced, so the design was changed to subvert possible counterfeiting.

The Loonie coin we all know today entered circulation in June 1987, and over 800 million coins had been struck by its twentieth anniversary. Production of paper one dollar bills ceased 21 months later. Despite only lukewarm acceptance of the coin initially, the loonie has gained iconic status, and the term 'Loonie' is now synonymous with the Canadian currency itself.

In 2002, Canadians working on the icemaking crew at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics secretly embedded a loonie in the ice at the hockey venue, passing it off as a reference mark for faceoffs at centre ice. The players of the Canadian men's and women's teams were let in on the closely held secret; both teams went on to win gold medals, and men's team manager Wayne Gretzky divulged the existence of the Lucky Loonie in a post-game media conference. There have been numerous stories of Canadians placing lucky loonies in international sports venues ever since, and almost all facilities built for the 2010 Games in Vancouver and Whistler had loonies placed in their foundations. The original SLC lucky loonie is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

The loonie was followed in 1996 by the release of the two dollar coin, known ever since as the Toonie (personally, I thought 'doubloon' would have been more accurate).
 

sly_karma

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Although it has no domestically-owned auto companies, Canada is a substantial producer of cars and trucks. Currently it ranks about ninth in world production figures, but in the period following each of the world wars it ranked second or third. Today, it produces around 2.5 million units annually, and vehicle exports contribute around $50 billion to the Canadian economy.

Currently, there are five makers assembling in Canada: Chrysler/Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda and Toyota. There are also hundreds of automotive parts and systems. Studies suggest that Canadian content in a typical vehicle varies from 15% to 25%. Canada also produces commercial trucks, buses, truck bodies and trailers. Automotive sector represents about 10% of manufacturing GDP and 25% of manufacturing trade. Most exports are bound for free trade partners Mexico and the US.

All assembly plants and most of the parts manufacturing plants are concentrated in southern Ontario. The city of Windsor is particularly important since it is located directly across the river from Detroit, Michigan.
 

sly_karma

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There's a lot of wildlife news stories out here in the west. In 2021 alone I can recall all of these on TV news:
  • moose in the yard
  • cougar in the yard
  • bear in the house
  • lynx in the chookhouse
  • bobcat frozen to train tracks
  • coyote nipping runners in Stanley Park
  • 'problem beaver' relocated
Stories about deer or raccoons don't rate a mention, too common.
 
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Summit

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Most of the 18 golf rounds on my Aug/Sept 2019 BC/Alberta trip were by myself, so I was asking the golf shop staff some bear questions at a number of the courses I played. A guy at Silvertip (great name for a golf course in Bear Country LOL)Golf Course near Canmore said at this time of the year the bears would have gone to higher altitudes. At Golden Golf Course I asked about bear spray and the guy laughed, partly because he said I wouldn't have time to work out how to use the spray. He also said I wouldn't encounter one !
 
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sly_karma

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Southern Ontario is the most densely populated and developed region in Canada, yet it also contains an extensive UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve: the Niagara Escarpment. This is a limestone-capped piece of high ground in the Great Lakes region that also spans across the American states of New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois. The Niagara Escarpment's abrupt height change has created the famous waterfalls of the same name.

The Biosphere Reserve stretches over 700 km from Lake Huron in the north to the Falls and beyond to Lake Ontario in the south, and covers almost 200,000 ha of protected land. About 1.3 million people live in this area, and it is traversed by Canada's busy highway, the 401, numerous other road and rail links, and the Welland Canal that allows commercial shipping to bypass the Falls.

The Escarpment escaped the nearly universal development across Southern Ontario because of its rugged topography, and in the 1960s efforts began to preserve it for future generations. A series of national, provincial and regional parks were established, and then tied together in 1990 with the Biosphere designation. A decade earlier, the Ontario government created the Niagara Escarpmemt commission and endowed it with the powers of a local government to provide comprehensive control of development and land use.

Despite intense human settlement and increasing population pressure, the Escarpment is a success story in balancing economic and environmental values. It contains the oldest trees in Canada and has the greatest species diversity of all the country's Biospheres, yet it has also found innovative ways to allow industrial operations such as aggregate extraction to be sustainable as well as profitable. The escarpment and environs are also to hone to Niagara wine region, Canada's largest.

Most of Ontario's ski areas are located on the Escarpment, taking advantage of elevation changes of up to 200 vertical metres in an otherwise flat landscape.
 
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