Living next to history’s greatest cultural, military and economic superpower, Canada is constantly ribbed for being mediocre. While it can be hard to stand out next to our big, increasingly brash neighbour, the truth is, we like it here in the Great White North. As Canada celebrates its 151st birthday we dug into the numbers to find some of the many ways this country is the best from sports and science, to politics and entertainment.
Life & well-being
1. We live a long time: Canadians born today will live an average of two years longer than the global average (close to 82 years in Canada versus 80). Meanwhile, 89% of Canadians reported being in good health, 20% above the average world-wide.
2. Our quality of life is tops: According to the U.S. News & World Report, our political and economic stability, solid job market and world-class public education system means our citizens should have the highest sense of well-being in the world. (Sadly, Switzerland bested us for the title of best country overall).
3. Saying “Sorry” is good for you: Canadians are mocked for always apologizing, but it’s not a character flaw. Saying sorry has been found to boost happiness and strengthen relationships. Researchers at the University of Waterloo even found apologizing to a cop when pulled over for speeding can get fines reduced an average of $51. True, scientists did recently claim that refusing to apologize for your actions leads to a sense of empowerment, but such short-sighted thinking would only appeal to self-centred Americans. (Sorry, that was mean.)
4. We truly are nice: At least on Twitter. Researchers from McMaster University looked at how Canadians and Americans engaged on Twitter and found that Canadians use much nicer language. While Canadians commonly used words like “favourite”, “gorgeous”, “great”, and “amazing”, Americans favoured more negative words like “damn”, “hate”, “bored” and “annoying.”
5. Our kids are all right: Canada’s schools take heat from all sides, but they must be doing something right. Our 15-year-olds routinely score in the top 10 of 65 countries that participate in the OECD’s reading, math and science tests. Last time around, in 2015, we were fourth, behind Singapore, Japan and Estonia.
There’s more: 6. Compared to our U.S. neighbours, we have a lower rate of suicide (11.1 per 100,000 people, versus 12 in the U.S.), 7. a lower rate of infant mortality (5.1 per 1,000 live births, versus 6.1 in the U.S.), 8. and our health care costs per person are much lower (US$4,569 per capita in Canada, versus $9,086 in the U.S.). 9. We also offer better parental leave (new mothers and fathers can take up to 18 months of leave, versus just three unpaid months in the U.S.). 10. More of our marriages last: For every 1,000 population in the U.S., 3.6 marriages end in divorce annually, compared to 2.1 in Canada. 11. Poor kids are likely to attend university or college here: By age 19 to 21 roughly 54 per cent of Canadian youth from low-income families are enrolled in post-secondary education, compared to just 30 per cent of the poorest youth in America.
12. We’re quitting smoking: Only 17.7 per cent of men smoke tobacco, according to World Health Organization data for 2015, ranking us country 14th-lowest out of 129 countries, ahead of the U.S. (21st), United Kingdom (22nd), France (59th) and Jordan (128th), whose males are nearly four times more likely to take the cancer-causing puffs as Canada’s. Our women rank 81st in the WHO report, but that’s largely because women in less industrialized states are less likely to smoke–and at 12.2 per cent, Canadian women are wiser about staying away from cigarette packs than their husbands, brothers and dads.
13. You can grow old here comfortably: Canada was ranked 5th best out of 91 countries for elderly treatment, ahead of Switzerland, New Zealand and the U.S.
14. And Canadian retirees are the happiest in the world, second only to those in Mexico.
15. We have the most most liveable cities: Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto—they all made it into the top 25 on the 2017 Mercer list of most liveable cities in the world. Taken together, that means half of all Canadians enjoy some of the best city living there is.
16. We’re well educated: Two-thirds of Canadians have a post-secondary degree or certificate, compared to the average of 40 per cent for the developed world. That puts us third, after Japan and Korea, for most educated population in the world.
17. We’re not prudish: The Pew Research Centre surveyed 40,117 respondents in 40 and found that found 85 per cent of Canadians believe sex between an unmarried man and woman is acceptable, compared to the global average of just 48.4 per cent.
18. We drink responsibly: Despite our reputation as beer guzzlers and whisky swiggers, Canadians’ drinking habits are more tame than the global average.
19. We’re getting richer: The number of millionaires in Canada is expected to grow by at least 500,000 by 2021.
20. We’re inclusive: Canada is the third most gay-friendly country, after Germany and Spain, according to a Pew Research study. In Canada, 80 per cent of people said society should accept gays and lesbians. In the U.S., just 60 per cent said the same.
21. Canadians are generous: Roughly 64 per cent of Canadians donate money to charities—more than all other countries, aside from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland. But compared to the front-runners, more Canadians are willing to help a stranger in need.
22. We have better work-life balance: Less than 4% of Canadian employees work more than 50 hours a week, far below the average of 13% across OECD countries.
23. Our homes are the most spacious: We have 2.5 rooms per person in Canada, the highest rate among OECD countries where the average is 1.8 rooms.
24. There are few, if any, countries more tolerant than Canada: According the Legatum Prosperity Index, Canadians enjoy more personal freedoms, including freedom of religion and expression, social tolerance and human rights, than every other country, besides Luxembourg.
There’s more: 25. That Legatum index ranked Canada third, after Australia and New Zealand, on measures of social capital, i.e. the strength of our personal relationships, social network supports and civic participation. 26. Our knowledge is highly sought-after. Canada is the seventh most popular place in the world to study, with 263,800 foreign students pursuing post-secondary education in Canada in 2015 alone.
Money & work
27. Canada has strong economic freedom: So says the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. Canada scores 6th place, while America comes in 10th. Credit our sounder public finances.
28. Our banks are sound: In Bloomberg’s annual ranking of the world’s strongest banks, Canada clinched four of the top 10 spots.
29. We have more social mobility: The Conference Board of Canada gave us an “A” in intergenerational income mobility, meaning that if you’re born into poverty in Canada, you have a decent shot at becoming a high-income earning as an adult. Compared to the U.S., children born to poor parents in Canada are twice as likely to escape poverty. In other words, if you want the American Dream, move to Canada.
30. The money in your wallet is safe: Canadian currency once had a terrible reputation for being easy to counterfeit, but new polymer bills introduced by the Bank of Canada have hi-tech features that make them almost impossible to reproduce. Of the 500 million notes circulated since 2011, only 56 fakes have been seized. In the U.S., out of every one million banknotes in circulation, an estimated average of 6.5 are fakes.
31. Canada is the most politically and socially stable nation to crack the top ten list for biggest economies in the world.
32. Business is good: Canada cracked the top ten on Forbes’ annual Best Countries for Business ranking.
33. We’ve got great pensions: Canada consistently ranks in the top ten on the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, landing the number eight spot on the list in 2016. Our standing is expected to improve in coming years after the Canadian government, along with all provincial governments except Quebec, decided to expand the Canada Pension Plan starting in 2019.
There’s more: 34. Our corporate taxes are low (PricewaterhouseCoopers ranked Canada 8th out of 185 countries for its advantageous corporate tax structure). 35. We embrace transit: Seven of the 10 North American cities with the most people taking transit to work are in Canada. 36. We get paid holidays: America has no mandated paid holidays or vacation time, so 23 per cent of U.S. workers get no paid time off, compared to Canadian workers who get at least two weeks and nine paid public holidays. 37. We have strong female workforce participation: Roughly 82 per cent of women work in Canada, up from 24 per cent in 1953. 38. Canadian post-secondary students are more likely to launch start-up businesses compared with their global peers, according to the OECD. 39. More of our immigrants strike it rich: In both the U.S. and Canada the majority of millionaires are self-made, but a larger number in Canada are immigrants, according to a BMO study—in Canada nearly half of millionaires are immigrants or second-generation residents, compared to just one-third in America.
Arts & entertainment
40. Canadian musicians rule the charts: Drake set a record by having a song on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 431 consecutive weeks, starting with “Best I Ever Had” in 2009.
41. We’re home to blockbusters: At one point in 2017, the top two films at the U.S. Box Office—Suicide Squad and Sausage Party—were both produced in Canada. A third film filmed in Canada, Star Trek Beyond, was number eight for ticket sales at the same time. The Deadpool films and It were also filmed here.
42. Our Indigenous music scene is mighty, with artists like Tanya Tagaq, A Tribe Called Red, Tomson Highway, Susan Aglukark, and Buffy Sainte-Marie representing Canada’s ancestral roots on the international stage.
43. The Academy loves us: Canadians played pivotal roles in some of the biggest films of the last few years, from Ryan Gosling’s role in La La Land, to the talented team of Montrealers Sylvain Bellemare, Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte, who were behind the sound and visual production of Arrival. Canada also dominates the Oscar’s animated short category.
44. Our opera house is tops: There’s no city in North America with an opera house to compare to the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto. Jack Diamond, who built it, was promptly handpicked by Valery Gergiev to build the new Mariinsky II theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
45. The best small-screen sci-fi is secretly Canadian: Star Trek: Discovery, Continuum, Lost Girl, Haven and Orphan Black have all captured both record ratings and critics’ notoriously fickle hearts. All were (or are) filmed here and starred a host of talented Canadian actors (albeit some of whom are masked in layers of monster makeup).
46. We help navigate urban spaces: Canadian designer, Paul Arthur, did more than anyone to make it easier to find your way around otherwise confusing urban spaces by essentially inventing the art of “signage” for Expo 67, including designing clear male/female pictographs for bathrooms:
47. Superman is half Canadian: The man in tights may be the quintessential American hero, but he wouldn’t exist if not for Canadian artist Joe Shuster. While the character was written by American Jerry Siegel, Shuster is credited for giving him his signature blue tights and red cape.
48. We’re responsible for some of the most prominent literary authors of our time: Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, Yann Martel, Lawrence Hill, Emma Donoghue, and the list goes on.
49. Our broadcast TV doesn’t have to treat adults like children: Maybe it’s because Americans are such sensitive folk, or it’s our ill-defined role as cultural bridge between the U.S. and Europe, but Canadian TV regularly gets away with showing things broadcast networks south of the border can’t: nipples, F-bombs and the like. When The Sopranos aired unedited on CTV, executive producer David Chase said that could never happen on U.S. network TV: “It’s just not possible, we have rules against that.”
50. We’re big gamers: Roughly 20,400 people now work in Canada’s gaming industry, making it the third largest in the world behind the United States and Japan. That also means it’s the largest gaming industry in the world on a per capita basis.
51. Our special effects are the best: While demand for blockbuster visual effects in movies skyrockets, California’s special effects industry is collapsing. Why? They can’t keep up with Canada (or Britain or Asia or New Zealand, but that’s beside the point). In Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg, visual effects artists have been taking over the design of explosions, gore and CGI monsters as our technical schools pump out skilled graduates.
There’s more: 52. Our filmmakers are wild: David Lynch, eat your heart out. Canadian movies are wilder and weirder–necrophilia in Kissed, David Cronenberg’s car-crash fetishism and twin gynecologists, and Atom Egoyan’s films about father-daughter incest, a schoolgirl stripper, and a wife who hires a young hooker to test her husband. 53. Our filmmakers are worldly, too: Unlike Americans, who wait for the rest of the world to learn English, Canadians get Oscar nominations for foreign-language films, and not just ones in French—Deepa Mehta’s Hindi-language Water was nominated in 2007. 54. We know our art: When museums want to tour their blockbuster exhibits, they know to stop here first. From the Picasso show at the AGO to Sebastião Salgado’s work at the ROM, Canada is the stop for top-tier North American premieres. 55. Our festivals rule: TIFF is by far North America’s most important film festival, and the world’s second-biggest after Cannes. 56. Hot Docs is North America’s biggest documentary festival. 57. Contact is the continent’s biggest photography festival. 58. Just For Laughs is the biggest comedy festival. 59. Montreal’s Jazz Festival is still the largest, with the most free concerts, the largest purpose-built downtown outdoor concert space and the most audacious programming. 60. ImagineNative is the world’s biggest Indigenous film and media arts festival. 61. And Toronto’s Caribana is the continent’s biggest Caribbean carnival.
Sports & leisure
62. We dominate hockey: Stanley Cups aside, hockey is still Canada’s game. While the percentage of Canadians playing in the NHL has declined since the 1980s, Canadians still make up more than 50 per cent of all players in the league, including the world’s greatests: 63. Wayne Gretzky and 64. Sidney Crosby.
65. Football is better here: Since the late 1970s, the National Football League has been tweaking its rules to encourage more passing—that is, to make the U.S. game more exciting. Up here, we got it right the first time: a three-down game on a great, big field. So on second and 10, you can bet that ball will be in the air.
66. We were first to the races: When it comes to sporting events, Canada got off to an early start. Established in 1816, the Royal St. John’s Regatta is North America’s oldest annual sporting event. Hamilton’s Around the Bay Race is North America’s longest distance road race, which began in 1894, beating Boston by three years. And this July Toronto plays host to the 158th running of the Queen’s Plate, the oldest continuously run stakes race on the continent.
67. We have great skiing: Canada is home to the best skiing in North America. The most popular ski resort, Whistler, trumps America’s most-visited resort, Vail, with more trails (200 vs. 193), longer runs (a total of 36,960 feet vs. 15,840 feet) and more snow (469 inches vs. 348 inches)
We’ve invented some of the best sports on earth, including 68. Lacrosse, 69. ice hockey, 70. basketball, 71. and don’t forget five-pin bowling.
72. We made winters fun: Before it was a dynastic Canadian empire, Bombardier was known for inventing the Ski-Doo. In 1959, after decades of tinkering with snowmobile iterations, Joseph-Armand Bombardier completed the first Ski-Doo, which he personally delivered to a missionary in remote northern Ontario. The vehicle transformed life for northern arctic communities—and made enduring rural winters more fun for every one.
73. We see the world: Last year Canadians took close to 12 million trips abroad to countries other than the U.S. Despite having a population nearly 10 times that of Canada, Americans made just 30 million trips overseas. The poor showing from U.S. travellers shouldn’t be a surprise. While 65 per cent of Canadians hold a valid passport, only 35 per cent of Americans do.
74. We get outdoors: A survey by the Canadian Tourism Commission found that 30 per cent of Canadians consider themselves outdoor adventure enthusiasts.
75. We’re plugged in: In Canada, 93.3 per cent of people surf the web, more than the U.S., Germany, France, Switzerland, the U.K. and Australia.
Environment & geography
76. Canada is the best place to ride out any impending climate change. UCLA geographer Laurence Smith has argued that by 2050 warming will unlock vast new resources and transform Canada into an economic superpower.
77. Less spin: Despite our proximity to the United States, we experience far fewer tornadoes. We average just 60 reports of twisters per year compared with the 1,200 confirmed tornado strikes in the U.S., the most of any country in the world. Only five per cent of our storms reach the EF-3 category of intensity, the level where winds of more than 220 km/h start tearing up buildings and trees. The U.S. gets about 37 such tornadoes annually, costing the country 80 lives.
78. Canada boasts some of the most beautiful skies in the world, with the Aurora Borealis lighting up the nights from August to April. The northern territories offer the most brilliant and frequent viewing opportunities, but it’s possible to catch occasional glimpses of the Northern Lights in nearly every province.
79. We have the highest tides in the world: The Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, sees the most dramatic tides in the world, with the difference in high and low tide reaching 16.3 meters.
80. We help repopulate endangered species: When the U.S. wants to help an animal species come back from the brink, they call on Canada. In 1995, dozens of grey wolves were captured in Alberta and shipped south to be let free in Yellowstone National Park, 72 years after the park’s last wolf den was destroyed under a federal extermination plan. Alaska recently reintroduced wood bison, North America’s largest living land mammals, into the wilderness. The animals come from a captive herd started with Canadian animals.
81. Niagara Falls: We may share the falls with the States, but tourists will be wise to visit Canada to take in the view. There’s a reason why any photo you see of the natural wonder is captured from the Canadian side.
82. Water, water everywhere: With less than half a per cent of the world’s population, we have seven per cent of its renewable water supply—the most per inhabitant of any developed country. The supply for an average American is just 11 per cent of what’s available to us.
83. Dinosaurs lived here: Not only did archaeologists uncover the largest-ever bed of dinosaur bones near Medicine Hat, Alta., in 2010, since then scientists re-examining old fossils identified a new species of spiky-headed dinosaur called Xenoceratops foremostensis—or “alien horned-face from Foremost.” Canada is also home to the number one place on earth for sheer number of dino discoveries: 37 species have been found in Alberta’s Dinosaur Provincial Park.
84. We have rat-free zones: Alberta claims to be the only human-populated jurisdiction in the world that has zero rats, thanks to an intense political campaign launched 67 years ago to protect crops from the vermin.
85. We have less gravity: A certain lightness may come over you in some parts of Canada. That’s because we have areas, namely around Hudson Bay, where, because of how ice age glaciers formed in the area, gravity is slightly weaker than anywhere else in the world.
There’s more: 86. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined, with fresh water accounting for 9% of the country’s total area. There’s nearly one lake for every ten people in Canada, and that’s just counting freshwater bodies bigger than three square kilometres. 87. We have more coast to enjoy than all but five countries in the world, with 243,000 km of shoreline. 88. Canadian waters are home to approximately three-quarters of the world’s narwhals, about 80,000, making Canada the hood of arguably the freakiest sea mammal in existence. 89. According to the OECD Better Life Index our air is cleaner than the average in the developed world, and 90. so too is our water. While there are indeed water crises in communities across the country, about 89 per cent of Canadians report being satisfied with the quality of local water. Studies also show that most tap water in Canada is better quality than any bottled water on the market. 91.We’ve got the best bling: Canada is the fifth largest diamond-producing country in the world, and given its rigorous environmental and labour standards, you can count on those gems being the most ethically-sourced of its competitors. 92. And bonus: Canadian bovine semen is world-class. That’s right. Our bull semen is the most coveted in the world, with the top performers delivering $50,000 worth of product in one shot.
93. Canada is one of the most peaceful places on earth. It was ranked eighth out of 163 countries on the Global Peace Index. Meanwhile, our North American neighbour was among the 50 least peaceful countries, taking the 114 spot on the list.
94. Our elections are fair and democratic: While voter turnout may be higher in the United States, it’s much more equitable in Canada, with broad social inclusion of both high-income and low-income voters. In Canada, voter turnout for the richest 20 per cent of the population is roughly 63 per cent, whereas the participation rate of the bottom 20 per cent is only slightly less, at 60 per cent. In the States, roughly 79 per cent of the wealthiest voters turn out to cast ballots, compared to just slightly more than half of the poorest voters.
95. Our politicians better represent the gender divide: Federally, women make up 27.2% of Parliament, compared to the global average where women represent just 22.8% of parliament members.
96. Our leader is internationally adored: While Canadians have reeled in their gushing over Justin Trudeau (to some extent), the rest of the world is still smitten with the charismatic, panda-snuggling feminist. In an Ipsos poll, even 40 per cent of Americans said they’d take Trudeau over Trump in the White House.
97. We have far fewer assassinations compared to other developed countries: Since Confederation, only three Canadian politicians have been assassinated, including two Fathers of Confederation: Thomas D’Arcy McGee was shot by a Fenian sympathizer in 1868; George Brown was shot in the leg by a former Globe employee in 1880 (the wound led to a fatal infection). Quebec minister of labour Pierre Laporte was kidnapped and assassinated by the FLQ in 1970. In the United States, a staggering 44 politicians have been assassinated, including four sitting presidents.
98. We support our troops: Fifty-eight per cent of Canadians believe we need to increase the size of our military, according to a poll conducted as part of The Canada Project.
99. We paved the way for marriage equality: The federal government legislated same-sex common law marriage in 1999, ahead of every other country. By 2005, same-sex marriage was legal in every province and territory.
100. Canada is a leader in gender rights: In 2002, The Northwest Territories was the first government in Canada to prohibit gender discrimination, and include gender identity in their Human Rights Code. Most other Canadian governments have since followed suit, including the federal government which passed Bill C-16 this spring. The legislation will amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code, making it illegal to discriminate based on gender identity or gender expression on provisions of housing, employment and social services.
101. We welcome refugees: A majority of Canadians think the country should accept more Syrian refugees, according to The Canada Project. Public opinion is often reversed in the United States.
There’s more: 102. We also welcome immigration: Canada gets 5.7 per 1,000 people, cracking the top 20 for most most migrants per capita ahead of Belgium, Australia, Sweden and the United States. 103. We have relatively few lobbyists: We’ve seen an explosion in lobbying, but in Canada the ratio of lobbyists to senators and MPs is still 12 to 1, while in the U.S. the ratio of lobbyists to members of Congress is 23 to 1. Some estimate the U.S. ratio is as high as 65 to 1 since many lobbyists don’t register. 104. We mandate a time for holding the government’s feet to the fire: Sure, question period has degenerated in recent years, but nothing like it exists in the U.S. political system. 105. You don’t have to be rich to run for the highest office in the land: Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Turkey have no spending or donations restrictions, while Finland and the U.S. cap donations but not spending. Thanks to Elections Canada spending limits, Canada’s top five parties were allowed to spend a combined $90 million, compared to the estimated US$7 billion it costs to mount U.S. presidential elections.
Science & Technology
106. We have the “most social astronaut”: Eight North Americans have commanded the International Space Station over the last four years, but only Canada’s Chris Hadfield became a household name worldwide. His photos, duets from space and that cover of Space Oddity helped catapult @Cmdr_Hadfield to one million Twitter followers.
107. Holy crap, we’re discovering a miracle cure: Canada is a leader in fecal transplant therapy (it’s exactly what it sounds like). By transferring healthy bacteria from a donor’s stool into patients suffering from potentially fatal gut infections like C. difficile, doctors believe it could one day cure all sorts of ailments, maybe even obesity and allergies.
108. We lead in quantum computing: What’s that, you ask? Rather than calculating with ones or zeros as conventional computers do, quantum computers can theoretically harness subatomic particles to process more complex calculations in a fraction of the time. And scratch the word theoretical. In 2013, Burnaby, B.C.-based D-Wave said one of its quantum computers, the only such machines commercially available, is installed at the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, a collaboration between Google, the Universities Space Research Association and NASA.
109. We’re wiring the oceans like no one else: Canada’s NEPTUNE and VENUS projects off the coast of B.C. have installed fibre-optic cables that transmit data from the bottom of the ocean. In 2011, Popular Science named NEPTUNE one of humankind’s “top 10 most ambitious science projects” alongside the Large Hadron Collider and the International Space Station.
110. We’re rational thinkers: Most Canadians (61 per cent) accept evolution, compared to just 41 per cent of the world in general. Just 30 per cent of Americans believe in evolution, and incidentally, the same percentage believe Bigfoot is “definitely” or “probably” real.
111. We’re world leaders in space robotics: There’s the Canadarm, of course, but also Dextre, which lives on the International Space Station and is the most advanced space robot ever built–a “space handyman” that fixes up the station. In 2013, Dextre performed the first demonstration that a robot could refuel a satellite in orbit, which could give our satellites longer lives in space.
112. We invented the egg carton: The simple design is the genius of Joseph Coyle of Smithers, B.C. who, in in 1911, settled an ongoing dispute between a farmer and hotel owner over broken eggs consistently showing up in the hotelier’s order. More than 100 years later, the cardboard carton has barely changed.
113. We revolutionized movie theatres: With the invention of IMAX, Canadians Graeme Ferguson, Robert Kerr, Roman Kroitor and William C. Shaw changed the way the world goes to the movies. The camera system displays images at about twice the resolution than most cinema films, and has become the global standard for the movie-viewing experience.
114. We discovered stem cells: Dr. James Till and Dr. Ernest McCulloch made history when they identified stem cells in a Toronto laboratory in 1963. These unspecified cells have the ability to regenerate or repair any cell in the body, and hold the potential to revolutionize medicine. Today, they’re used for bone marrow transplants and to treat several blood cancers.
115. Found a treatment for diabetes: Canadian doctors Frederick Banting, Charles Best and John James Rickard Macleod are credited with discovering insulin and saving the lives of people with diabetes. In 1921, Banting identified that lack of insulin caused diabetes, after removing a dog’s pancreas, where insulin is produced, induced diabetic symptoms in the animal. But by extracting the insulin from the removed pancreas and injecting it back into the dog, the symptoms subsided. The first human patient began insulin therapy the following year, and treatment has been used ever since.
116. We keep hearts beating: Canadian electrical engineer John Hopps invented the first cardiac pacemaker while researching how radio frequency could help with heating in hypothermia in 1941. Knowing that the heart stopped beating when body temperature dropped, he hypothesized that it could be restarted using electrical stimulation. With that knowledge, Hopps invented the first pacemaker (which was for a dog) in 1950. Today, roughly 1 in 50 people over 75 years old rely on the device.
117. We invented the telephone: While the landline is verging on obsolescence, it revolutionized communication and remained virtually unchanged for more than 100 years after Alexander Graham Bell invented it.
118. We beat Edison to the light bulb: Thomas Edison may get all the credit, but the invention actually belongs to Henry Woodward. The Toronto medical student patented the first incandescent lamp, which featured an electric light bulb, and sold the rights to Edison who refined the invention.
119. We made hockey safer: In 1959, Goalie Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens became the first player in the NHL to wear a face mask, which he helped design himself. The mask set in motion a movement towards more protective gear in the sport.
Crime & calamity
120. We don’t have out-of-control prison sentences: Canada’s incarceration rate is about 85 offenders for every 100,000 citizens, a lower rate than nearly 200 other countries, according to World Prison Brief.
121. Our government doesn’t kill people: Canada officially abolished capital punishment in 1976, but no Canadian inmate has been executed since 1962. Meanwhile, 58 countries still use capital punishment, including the U.S. where 20 prisoners were sentenced to death last year alone, while 2,902 inmates continue to wait on death row.
122. Our judges are appointed, not elected: While some believe Canadian judges should be picked directly by citizens, as is common in American courts, the idea has largely been written off as inconsistent with the Constitution, which could be for the best. Studies show judges have difficulty being impartial on the bench, when, as candidates, they rely heavily on donors and special interest groups for support. As well, a study showed judges increase their sentences when facing re-election. In fact, electoral zealousness added six per cent to overall prison time for aggravated assault, rape and robbery sentences.
There’s more: 123. Our murder rate is low: In 2015, 1.68 per 100,000 people were victims of homicide, compared to 3.82 in the U.S. 124. Our roads are safe: The number of fatalities from traffic accidents in Canada is 6 for every 100,000, far lower than most other countries. 125. Our youth are safe: America has the highest mortality rate for young people ages 10 to 24 among developed countries, with a death rate of 60 per 100,000 of the population, compared to less than 40 in Canada. 126. Terror attacks are rare: There have been about 119 terror attacks since 1970 in Canada. During that same period, Europe has had 18,1803 attacks. 127. We’re unlikely to get robbed: Canada’s robbery rate is 59 per 100,000, below the Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.S.A.
General Canadian awesomeness
128. We’re popular: Backpackers knew it for years, but studies confirm the Maple Leaf really is beloved around the world. Canada has held the top spot for four of the past seven eight on the held Reputation Institute’s ranking of countries based on people’s trust, admiration and affinity for them. This year, we came in seventh, losing our crown to Sweden. 129. And Canada sees three times more tourists than the global average, according to Destination Canada’s annual report. In 2016, Canada welcomed 19.97 million international overnight visitors, up 11% from the year before, compared to a 4% rise in tourism worldwide.
130. You can (almost) smoke pot here: Canadians and visitors will be able to enjoy legal recreational marijuana starting October 17. It’s only the second country to legalize the drug, after Uruguay.
131. We have great taste in chocolate: Everyone knows we have loads of chocolate candy varieties you can’t get in the U.S.—Coffee Crisp, Aero, Smarties—but earlier this year Hershey’s said it re-engineered its chocolate recipe to better appeal to Canadian palates. A Hershey’s spokesperson said Canadians prefer smoother and sweeter chocolate compared to the “grittier or even cheesier flavour” chocolate found in America.
132. We’re a roadside wonderland: Canada has more than 1,200 roadside attractions, including a giant duck, perogy, sausage, Easter egg, hockey stick, moose, apple, dinosaur, nickel or lobster.
There’s more: 133. Giant American corporations (looking at you, Coke) associate with our unofficial mascot: Up to 80 per cent of the world’s polar bears are in Canada. 134. Our lobsters are the best: It’s an endless debate between fishermen and chefs in the Maritime provinces and Maine. We claim the cooler waters of Canada spawn tastier crustaceans. Americans disagree. But most Maine lobster is processed in Canada anyway, so we dominate both ways. 135. We’re record-setters: For our population size, no other country breaks more Guinness world records. Our records include: 136. the oldest baseball diamond in the world, the 140-year-old Labatt Park in London, Ont, 137. the first and only UFO landing strip, built in St. Paul’s, Alberta to celebrate Canada’s 1967 centennial, 138. And, of course, the biggest maple leaf on earth: a 53cm wide and 52cm long leaf found in 2010 by a family in Richmond, BC. 139. Oh, and the largest beaver dam in the world. The 850-metre long dam, located in Wood Buffalo, Alberta, was first spotted by satellite images in 2007.
140. We have the best Canadian bacon: This can get confusing, but try to follow along. When Americans buy “Canadian bacon,” they get a package of fully-cooked processed slices of ham, which Canadians don’t actually eat. Canadian bacon, on the other hand, isn’t called that by Canadians. Instead it’s peameal bacon, a Toronto creation of pickle-brine-cured pork loin rolled in cornmeal. It’s a travesty most Americans can’t tell the difference.
141. We’ve led the vanilla-glazed craze: It may be considered an iconic American treat, but no one eats more doughnuts than the average Canadian. We can thank Tim Hortons for that, of which there are 3,468 in Canada.
142. Canada is the world’s largest producer of lentils, growing 3.2 million tonnes in 2016 per Statistics Canada estimates.
143. We make the world a sweeter place: Canada produces more than 70% of the global maple syrup supply. The world also has us to thank for the classic Canuck delicacies: 144. Poutine, 145. the Halifax donair, 146. ketchup chips 147. the Caesar, aka the better Bloody Mary, 148. Nanaimo bars 149. and we’ll even take credit for Hawaiian pizza, which is Greek-Canadian and not Hawaiian at all.
150. We’re sharpshooters: The last three out of four record holders for the longest sniper shot in history were Canadian soldiers. The most recent record was set by Canadian special forces officer in Iraq who shot and killed an ISIS fighter at the mind-boggling distance of 3,540 metres away, more than a kilometre further than the previous record.
151. We celebrate diversity: Canada is the most culturally diverse country in the G8, with a foreign-born population of more than 20%. In Toronto—the most diverse city in the world, according to the BBC—that number is closer to 50%, with people from roughly 230 different nationalities calling the city home.