We are MFOL! . . . the world is out there for you to explore . . . start from wherever you are and choose your own direction . . .
Welcome to Geography on www.MakeFunOfLife.net, where you will find humor, inspiration, and learning in short stories, concise quotations, perky poems, and pretty-near-perfect pictures. Just travel down this page, skipping the ridiculous articles, until you come to the ones that appeal to you. When you have a moment, be sure to visit some of the more than 70 other pages on the website, such as the Holidays Pages and the Life Pages, which can be explored by clicking or tapping on the drop-down menu near the top of this page or further down this page in the right-hand column as blinking images.
We are MFOL! . . . the world is out there for you to explore . . . start from wherever you are and choose your own direction . . .
“Geography is just physics slowed down, with a couple of trees stuck in it.” -Terry Pratchett (Terrence David John ‘Terry’ Pratchett (1948 - 2015)): “The Last Continent” (1998)
Charles: What part of London is in France?
Pierre: The letter ‘n.’
If the world is getting smaller, how come they keep raising the postal rates?
Son: Dad, where are the Himalayas?
Father: Go ask your mother - she puts everything away.
Law of Location: No matter where you go, there you are!
Buster: What was the tallest mountain in the world before Mount Everest was discovered?
Lester: Mount Everest.
Ida hoes potatoes!
- Map-making is older than writing.
- People who make maps are called cartographers.
- A body of water is a lake, river, ocean, or other water mass usually on or below a planet’s surface.
- The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a method of allowing people to find precise coordinates, or locations, using satellite telemetry (measurements from a distance).
- Terrain features are features on the surface of a planet or object, such as mountains, hills, valleys, bodies of water, volcanoes, plains, shorelines, glaciers, bays, and so forth.
- The most commonly used map is the road map; however, there are many other types of maps, including terrain maps, mineral location maps, undersea maps, and aerial navigation maps . . . and, as some joker just said, don’t forget treasure maps.
Ricky: How can you name the capital of every U.S. state in two seconds?
Mickey: Washington, D.C.
A thing that I’ve wanted to do
Is to go to that place, Timbuktu.
It’s perfectly clear
It’s a long way from here.
But no one knows just where - do you?
by Author Unknown
Brenda: Where is Timbuktu?
Herbie: Between Timbukone and Timbukthree.
“I heard him speak disrespectfully of the equator.” -Sydney Smith (1771 - 1845)
Equator: An imaginary lion running around the Earth through Africa.
Lines of latitude, including the famous Equator, are parallel horizontal lines, and lines of longitude are lines drawn from the North Pole to the South Pole, or if you prefer, lines drawn around the Earth that go through the poles. The imaginary lines are placed on maps of the face, or surface, of the Earth, and are the means by which ships and people can find their locations and navigate, or travel, to their destinations. Latitude was devised by measuring the height of the Sun in the sky, and longitude was calculated by comparing the time shown on two clocks, with one adjusted to show local time and the other remaining unaltered.
Homer: Why is longitude like a clothes line?
Elmer: Because it stretches from pole to pole.
Greenwich Observatory in Greenwich, England, was established by King Charles II in 1675 to study means of fixing longitude, and became the acknowledged center of world authorities on the subject. Telescopes and other instruments at Greenwich Observatory were used to determine the exact position of the meridian. In 1884, an international conference in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, agreed Greenwich should be the site of zero longitude, both on the Earth and on maps of the Earth.
“If you don’t know where you are, a map won’t help.” -Watts S. Humphrey
The concept of dividing the globe into longitudinal strips, or bands, to establish time zones, was first proposed by Sweden’s Alex Andersrag. He has long since been forgotten, except in a few obscure history books, so few people today refer to these zone dividers as ‘Alex Andersrag Time Bands.’ Someone has just said that this may be at least partly fictitious . . .
All time zones across the world are expressed as being plus or minus a certain number of hours of ‘Greenwich Mean Time.’ The ‘prime meridian’ is set at zero degrees longitude, where it passes through Greenwich. In the courtyard of the observatory, brass strips have been set in the ground and walls marking the exact location. In this location, a person can stand over the line of brass strips, with one foot in each hemisphere.
There was an Old Man on the Border,
Who lived in the utmost disorder;
He danced with the Cat,
And made Tea in his Hat,
Which vexed all the folks on the Border.
-Edward Lear (1812 - 1888): “More Nonsense, Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc.” (1872)
“You can’t get there from here if you don’t know where here and there are.” -Thom Hogan
Chance: What did Delaware?
Hope: Her New Jersey.
You Are Entering Littleville
Jay: What is the difference between here and there?
Kay: The letter ‘t.’
According to some people, the area called Iceland is so cold that most of its citizens have to live somewhere else.
Vera: Why is honey so hard to find in Boston?
Sarah: Because there is only one ‘B’ in Boston.
A good sense of humor is helpful for those who live in the following places:
- Beebeetown, Iowa
- Cheesequake, New Jersey
- Chocolate Bayou, Texas
- Hot Coffee, Mississippi
- Hygiene, Colorado
- Monkey’s Eyebrow, Arizona
- Pumpkin Center, Missouri
- Santa Claus, Indiana
- Shoulderblade, Kentucky
- Smileyberg, Kansas
- Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico
- Yeehaw Junction, Florida
Marcella: What has four i’s but cannot see?
The Russian Federation and the United States of America are only 2 miles away from each other by kayak, in the far north, just in case you are bored and want something to do. Be sure to take along some granola and seal blubber.
Gulf: A dent in a continent.
If the Roman Empire does not exist any longer, why is there is a city named Rome on every continent?
Why is north at the top of maps? The ancient Greeks and ancient Romans put the east at the top of their maps because that is the direction from which the Sun rose. The early Christian nations did so too, because it was believed that the Garden of Eden had been located in the east. North gradually moved to the top of the map near the beginning of the 14th century, as armies, emissaries, and traders increasingly traveled north towards Europe, where a larger human population could be found.
Geography Teacher: Who knows where the Great Plains are?
Student: At the big airports?
On a map, the ‘You Are Here,’ sometimes with an arrow pointing to your location, is called an ‘ideo locator.’ Yay, we're here! We've finally arrived!
“Where is here?” -Northrop Frye
More than seventy-five percent of all the countries in the world are located north of the Equator.
Dustin: What is the difference between the North Pole and the South Pole?
Geography Teacher: All the difference in the world!
The names of the continents all end with the same letter with which they start.
Marcus: Where is Moscow?
Mark: In the barn with Pa’s cow.
Thirteen recognized countries in the world have capital cities with spellings that begin and end with the same letter, in the English language versions of the names. They are: Abuja (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Andorra la Vella (Andorra), Ankara (Turkey), Apia (Samoa), Asmara (Eritrea), Astana (Kazakhstan), Oslo (Norway), Saint George’s (Grenada), Saint John’s (Antigua and Barbuda), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), and Warsaw (Poland).
- What countries border the country you live in?
- Why are some countries divided into areas called states or provinces?
- What is the capital city of your country?
- What is a body of water?
- Are there places in the world that are not claimed as a part of any country?
- What country is the ‘most fun country’ for its citizens?
“We’re not lost. We’re locationally challenged.” -John M. Ford
Spencer: South Africa is the only country with three official capitals - what are they?
Percy: South Africa’s three official capitals are Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein.
Each fall in far-off Melanesia
The weather’s not likely to please ya;
Hurricanes come and go,
Giant tides ebb and flow,
And octopi tease ya and squeeze ya.
by Author Unknown
Amanda: What was the smallest continent in the world before Australia was discovered?
Road Map: A guide to etiquette showing motorists which fork to use.
This is MFOL! . . . visit as often as your imagination needs encouraging . . .
Here we see rush hour traffic in Ireland . . .
God first made the world. God then made humankind: the Italians for their beauty, the French for their cuisine, the Welsh for their singing voices, the Germans for their engineering, the English for their civilizing influence . . . and on and on until He looked at what He had created and said, “This is all very well, but no one is having fun, so I will have to make the Irish.”
In surnames (family names or last names), O’ means ‘son of’ or ‘descendant of’ in Irish Gaelic, while Mac or Mc means ‘grandson of’ in Irish Gaelic.
You Must Never Bathe in Irish Stew
You must never bathe in an Irish Stew,
It’s a most illogical thing to do.
But should you persist against my reasoning,
Don’t fail to add the appropriate seasoning.
by Spike Milligan (Terence Alan ‘Spike’ Milligan (1918 - 2002))
Clancy: What do you think of my Irish stew?
Nancy: It could use a pinch of Gaelic.
In Ireland, lakes are called loughs (pronounced as ‘locks’).
“I was going,” said an Irishman, “over Westminster Bridge the other day, and I met Pat Hewins. Hewins,” says I, “how are you?” “Pretty well,” says he, “thank you, Donnelly.” “Donnelly!” says I, “that’s not my name.” “Faith, no more is mine Hewins,” says he. So we looked at each other again, and sure enough, it turned out to be neither of us.
The song “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” (1912) was co-written by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Junior and set to music by Ernest Ball. George Graff, Junior was a German man who never visited Ireland in his entire life.
An officer stopped the flow of traffic and shouted, “Okay, pedestrians now!” Then he allowed the traffic to pass. He did this several times, and Gallagher was still standing on the sidewalk. After the officer had shouted, “Pedestrians!” for the tenth time, Gallagher approached him and said, “Is it not about time you let the Catholics across?”
“Céad Míle Fáilte!” [original Irish Gaelic]
“One Hundred Thousand Welcomes!” [English translation]
-Author Unknown: Irish slogan
Ronnie: What is Irish and sits on the lawn all summer?
Ronald: Paddy O’Furniture.
“A friend’s eye is a good mirror.” -Author Unknown: Irish proverb
Irish you a happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Two Irishmen hired an open cockpit airplane to fly over Dublin on Saint Patrick’s Day. As they were winging their way through the air, O’Toole turned to his friend Murphy and said, “Murphy, I’m going to fly upside down.” “O’Toole,” shouted Murphy, “don’t do that, we’ll fall out. “No we won’t, responded O’Toole, “I’ll still talk to you.”
Dublin’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
They say everyone loves a parade,
And the marchers are set and arrayed,
Whether lass or laddy,
They honored Saint Paddy,
The crowd? They all clapped and hoorayed!
by Author Unknown
“Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!” [original Irish Gaelic]
“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!” [English translation]
The shamrock, a type of low-growing clover with three-lobed leaves, is often associated with Ireland. Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love, and if you find a four-leaf clover, the fourth leaf is for luck.
Paddy and Mick were walking down the road, and Paddy had a bag of doughnuts. Paddy said to Mick, “If you can guess how many doughnuts are in my bag, you can have them both.”
“May the enemies of Ireland never meet a friend.” -Author Unknown: Irish saying
Mrs. Mary O’Leary did bake
A green-frosted shamrock cake
For those dressed in blue
Who protect me and you
And risk life and limb for our sake.
by Author Unknown
Molly: What would you get if you crossed an Irish leprechaun with a Texan?
Dolly: A pot of chili at the end of the rainbow!
The term ‘boycott’ comes from the Irishman Captain James Boycott.
Amy: Why did the Irishman cross the road?
Amelia: Because there was a leprechaun on the other side with a pot of gold.
An Irish Blessing
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the Sun shine warm upon your face
And rains fall softly upon your fields
And until we meet again
May the Good Lord hold you
In the hollow of his hand.
by Author Unknown
“A trade not properly learned is an enemy.” -Author Unknown: Irish proverb
Al: How can you tell when a leprechaun is having a good time?
Bert: He will be ‘Dublin’ over with laughter.
“You’re not as young as you used to be. But you’re not as old as you’re going to be.” -Author Unknown: Irish saying
Concerning bagpipes, the Irish invented them and gave them to the Scots as a joke, and the Scots haven’t caught on to the joke yet.
Some time ago, an American spy was sent to a small town in Ireland to pick up some top-secret documents from a spy with the last name of Murphy. The American’s instructions were to walk around town and stop in all the cafes, pubs, and shops until he found him. The American would find the spy by using a special secret phrase that only the spy would recognize. The American soon found himself on the way to the town. Walking on a deserted country road, he approached a farmer. “Hello,” the American said. “I’m looking for a man named Murphy.” “Well, you have certainly come to the right place,” the farmer said. “In the village over the hill, nearly everybody is named Murphy. The owner of the local pub is named Murphy, the schoolteacher is named Murphy, the butcher is named Murphy, and the barber is named Murphy. Indeed, I myself am named Murphy.” Aha! the American agent thought to himself, here’s the man I’m looking for. He’s disguised as a farmer. So the American said, “The eye of the Sun is burning bright over the lakes of Dublin, and colleens are dancing in the streets.” “Oh,” said the farmer. “It is Murphy the spy you’re seeking - he lives just down the road from here in the opposite direction.”
The longest place name in Ireland is Muckanaghederdauhaulia in County Galway.
Couples in Ireland could marry legally in Teltown, County Meath on Saint Brigid’s Day (1 February there), as recently as the 1920’s, by simply walking towards each other. If the marriage failed, they could ‘divorce’ by walking away from each other at the same spot, on Saint Brigid’s day of the following year. The custom was a holdover from old Irish Brehon laws, which allowed temporary marriage contracts.
“May the Good Lord take a liking to you, but not too soon!” -Author Unknown: Irish saying
“I’ll have the fish and chips twice,” announced O’Driscoll. “Very well,” said the shopkeeper. “The fish won’t be long.” “Then they’d better be fat,” suggested O’Driscoll.
There were more than 4.75 million people living in Ireland as of July 2013. However, there are more Irish people living outside of Ireland than inside the country. The Irish are prone to wander about, perhaps in search of the ever-elusive leprechaun’s pot of gold said to be at the end of some rainbow.
At the height of the gulf wars, the well-known firefighter Red Adair was called upon to go out to the gulf and put out the oil rig fires. On his way, his plane landed in Ireland for an overnight stop, so Red took advantage and visited an eatery to try the local cuisine. Two old Irish boys witnessed him walk in and one said to the other, “Isn’t that Red Adair?” The other replied, “No.” The old boy then said, “I’m sure it is - and I’m so sure that will bet you the usual if I’m wrong.” The doubting one said, “Alrighty, then,” and they both went over to Red and one said, “Are you Red Adair?” to which Red said he was. The doubting Irishman said, “Are you still dancing with Ginger Rogers?”
“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” -Author Unknown: Irish proverb
To be sure, Prawo Jazdy is a slippery fellow. He’s wanted for fifty different driving offenses all over Ireland. Now, Prawo is clever because every time he is booked for an offense, his driver’s license has a different address. All the Gardaì in Ireland have a different theory about how this ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ escapes the clutches of the law. Finally, the penny dropped: ‘Prawo Jardy’ is not a Hungarian name, but the Polish words for ‘Driving License.’ The Garda had caught 53 different Polish drivers, but thought they were dealing with the same man. Naturally, the Polish community in Ireland is having a good laugh about Mr. Prawo Jazdy. (Garda is the Irish police force; it also means one police officer. Gardaì is the plural; it means more than one police officer.)
- Ireland is called Éire in Irish Gaelic and is also known as the Republic of Ireland and informally as ‘The Emerald Isle.’
- Citizens of Ireland are called ‘Irish.’
- The capital city of Ireland is Dublin, where more than one-fourth of the country’s population resides.
- Other Irish cities of note include Cork, Limerick, and Galway.
- Ireland covers five-sixths of the island of the same name; the remaining one-sixth of the island is Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom.
- Irish, or specifically, Irish Gaelic, is the country’s first official language; however, English is the second official language, and is more commonly used.
- The Celtic harp is the national symbol of Ireland.
“If you do not sow in the Spring, you will not reap in the Autumn.” -Author Unknown: Irish proverb
What is the Blarney Stone? Legend would have it be half the Stone of Scone over which long-ago Scottish Kings were crowned. The actual Blarney Stone is perched high up in the battlements of Blarney Castle at Blarney Village, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) outside the city of Cork, Ireland. The block of bluestone was given to Cormac McCarthy by Robert the Bruce in 1314, in recognition of his support in the Battle of Bannockburn. In 1446, the stone was built into the castle’s battlements as a permanent feature. Today, the castle is a popular tourist site, attracting visitors from all over the world who come to tour the castle and its gardens. According to legend, kissing the stone endows a person with the gift of gab. The word ‘blarney’ itself has come to mean clever or flattering talk, as ‘blarney (blahr-nee), noun: Empty words, double-talk, fabrication, nonsense.’
Ireland has had its own Olympics since the Bronze Age, called the Tailteann Games.
Good luck and laughter;
And love ever after.
Poems and songs
With pipes and drums;
A thousand welcomes
When anyone comes . . .
That’s the Irish for you!
by Author Unknown
“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” -William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)
An Irishman, by the name of O’Malley proposed to his girl on Saint Patrick’s Day. He gave her a ring with a synthetic diamond. The excited young lass showed it to her father, a jeweler. He took one look at it and saw it wasn’t real. The young lass, upon learning it was not real, returned to her future husband. She protested vehemently about his cheapness. “In honor of Saint Patrick’s Day,” he smiled, “I gave you a sham rock.”
“If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough!” -Author Unknown: Irish saying
Paddy and Mick were walking past a wood yard when they spotted a notice reading, “Tree Fellers Wanted.” “That’s a shame,” said Paddy, “as there are only two of us.”
One of the most popular radio shows in rural Ireland is still the weekly broadcast of local obituaries. But his radio was broken, and so Gallagher opened the morning newspaper - and was dumbfounded to read his name in the obituary column! He quickly phoned his friend Finley. “Did you see the paper?” asked Gallagher. “They say I am deceased!” “Yes, I saw it,” replied Finley. “Where are you calling from?”
“That’s the Irish people all over - they treat a joke as a serious thing, and a serious thing as a joke.” -Sean O’Casey (1880 - 1964)
The Celtic cross is a centuries old symbol of Irish Christianity, and the Celtic knot symbolizes that which has no beginning and no ending and which cannot be undone. In the picture shown above, the symbols are melded into one.
May the luck of the Irish be with you!
“Ireland is rich in literature that understands a soul’s yearnings, and dancing that understands a happy heart.” -Margaret Jackson
Irish novelists have made major contributions to world literature; famous writers include Jonathan Swift (“Gulliver’s Travels”), Bram Stoker (“Dracula”), and James Joyce (“Ulysses”). Some of Ireland’s other famous folks include Michael Fassbender, actor Pierce Brosnan, Cillian Murphy, and Colin Farrell.
“It is Ireland’s sacred duty to send over, every few years, a playwright to save the English theatre from inarticulate glumness.” -Kenneth Tynan: as quoted in the “Observer” (27 May 1956)
D’ye ha’ a-hankerin’ f’mo? Visit the Irish tourism website at www.Ireland.com. Be sure to mention you found them through www.MakeFunOfLife.net, where everything is funner - our English is atrocious . . . perhaps we had better go back to grunts and whistles, or stick to Gaelic, which rolls off the tongue like the good Earth’s sweet honey.
The Irish eat more chocolate than Americans, Swedes, Danes, French, and Italians do, per person. Let’s move to Ireland straightaway and open a candy shop!
Billy called Paddy in Dublin and asked for the quickest way to Cork. Paddy said, “Are you on foot or in a car?” Billy said, “In a car.” Paddy said, “That’s the quickest way.”
“Maybe it’s bred in the bone, but the sound of pipes is a little bit of Heaven to some of us.” -Nancy O’Keefe
When Erin first rose from the dark swelling flood,
God bless’d the green island and saw it was good;
The em’rald of Europe, it sparkled and shone,
In the ring of the world the most precious stone.
This is ‘MFOL!’ . . . reminding the world to do as the Irish and ‘Make Fun O’Life!’
Here we see a couple of Canadians engaged in their national pastime . . .
Three explorers were hiking through what is now known as Canada. “You know,” said one of the explorers, “we should name this place we’re hiking through.” “I know,” said the second explorer. “We’ll each pick a letter and then make a name out of that.” “Okay,” said the third, “I’ll go first. C, eh.” “N, eh,” said the first explorer. “D, eh,” said the second . . . and that is the fanciful tale of how the name ‘Canada’ came to be. Actually, ‘Canada’ is the European settlers’ version of ‘Kanata,’ a Saint-Lawrence-Iroquoian (Native Americans or First Nations People) word that has a literal translation of ‘land,’ ‘village,’ or ‘settlement,’ though often popularly translated as meaning ‘Big Village.’
A Canadian magazine once had a contest to find out who could come up with a Canadian equivalent of ‘as American as apple pie.’ The winning entry was ‘as Canadian as possible under the circumstances.’
The nation of Canada extends from the Pacific Ocean in the west, to the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Arctic Ocean to the north, with the United States of America at its southern border. At approximately 9,984,670 square kilometers (3,855,103 square miles) in size, Canada is the second largest country in the world, with Russia being the largest. Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world, at 243,976 kilometers (151,600 miles). Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. Four of Canada’s ten provinces are islands: Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Ninety percent of Canada’s citizens live within 100 miles of the U.S. border. They constitute an enormous standing army, at all times prepared should Americans get the ludicrous idea of invading the country to steal Canada’s vast natural maple syrup reserves.
The natives of eastern Canada tell stories of a giant named Glooscap, who carved out many of the region’s natural features to help him overcome his evil twin brothers. It is believed that the Glooscap myths may be the predecessor of the Paul Bunyan legends.
Manitou Lake on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron is the world’s largest ‘lake within a lake,’ at 106.4 square kilometers (41.1 square miles) in size.
Canada has more freshwater lakes than the rest of the world combined, and is home to nine percent of the entire world’s renewable freshwater supply.
Cryptozoologists claim that Canada is the home of several cryptids, or life forms such as plants and animals whose existence has not been conclusively proven, including a primate called Sasquatch, a giant sloth-like creature known as the beaver-eater, a cannibalistic wild-man named Windigo, and a number of lake monsters, such as the Ogopogo in Lake Okanagan, British Columbia.
Ottawa, the capital city of Canada, is in the province of Ontario. The city was originally named Bytown after Colonel John By, who headquartered there while building the Rideau Canal that connects the Ottawa River with Lake Ontario.
The border between Canada and the United States of America is 5,525 miles long, including 1,538 miles between Canada and the American state of Alaska, making it the longest border between any two nations in the world. Who’s ready for a hike?
Russian Tourist: I want to hike from Vancouver to Toronto. Can I follow the railroad tracks?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: Sure, it’s only 4,000 miles, and do be sure to carry lots of water and polar bear repellant.
Alert, Canada, located in Nunavut territory, is the northernmost permanent human settlement anywhere in the world.
Portuguese Tourist: Which direction is North in Canada?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we will send the rest of the directions.
Myth: Canadians ride dog sleds everywhere.
Fact: Canadians travel on foot and with cars, trucks, buses, bicycles, tricycles, motorcycles, mopeds, airplanes, boats, ski-mobiles - and dog sleds.
Two major mountain ranges run through both Canada and the United States: The Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains. The two nations also share Niagara Falls and 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, with Lake Michigan being inside the borders of the United States of America.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the second Monday of October each year. No, they do not stuff their turkeys with snow or serve roasted icicles or drink slush flavored with maple syrup.
Overheard: Of course we celebrate Halloween in Canada. We dress up as polar bears, put on our snowshoes, and go igloo to igloo collecting maple syrup candy and moose jerky.
The longest street in the world is Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada. It measures 1,896 kilometers (1,178 miles) in length.
Cindy: Why did the Canadian cross the road?
Sidney: He saw some American do it on television.
The 20,000-year-old stone tools found in caves along the Bluefish River in Canada’s northern Yukon territory are believed to be the earliest evidence of human activity anywhere in North America.
The east coast of Canada was settled by Vikings in about C.E. 1000. Archaeological evidence of a settlement has been found at L’anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.
Snorri, the first North American child to have European parents (named Thorfin and Gudrid), was born in Vinland in about C.E. 1000. Vinland is presently known as coastal North America, mainly in what is now Canada.
English Tourist: Do you have ATM’s (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Halifax?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: In Canada, we do not use money, but instead trade in furs and animals hides. You can convert your money to beaver, bear, and deer pelts when you land at the airport in Canada.
In 1642, a group of religious mystics from France were inspired by a vision to build a missionary city in the Canadian wilderness. Led by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve and an Ursuline nun name Jeanne Mance, they founded Montreal.
Charles Fenerty, a poet from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was the first person to use wood fibers to make paper. He started experimenting in 1839, and by 1841, he had successfully produced paper from wood pulp.
Thanks to the wide availability of Charles Fenerty’s wood-pulp paper, and the wild goose quill ink pens found there, many famous writers have hailed from Canada, including Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of “Anne of Green Gables”; Margaret Atwood, author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”; and Alice Munro, author of “Lives of Girls and Women.”
Twenty-three Bactrian (two-hump) camels were used as pack animals during the few years of the Cariboo Gold Rush in the early 1860’s in British Columbia, Canada. Though camels did not stay around long in Canada, their name lives on in the province’s Camelsfoot Range and Camelsfoot Peak, and in the city of Lillooet’s ‘Bridge of the 23 Camels.’
Although the Canadian province of Nova Scotia (Latin for ‘New Scotland’) was granted the British Empire’s first flag by the English King Charles I in 1625, the country of Canada itself did not have a national flag until 15 February 1965, when the ‘maple leaf’ flag was adopted by the Canadian parliament. Before then, the red ensign, a British maritime flag, was in general use.
Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada, and Lacrosse, a game that was invented in Canada, is the official national Summer sport.
The modern game of ice hockey was developed in Canada, based on games that have been played since the tenth century. The rules were first published in the “Montreal Gazette” (1877).
Canadian-style math problem: A hockey puck with a mass of 0.115 kilograms moving at 35.0 meters per second strikes a rubber octopus thrown on the ice by a fan. The octopus has a mass of 0.265 kilograms. The puck and the octopus slide off together. Find their velocity.
“O Canada,” originally titled “Chant national,” was written by Adolphe-Basile Routhier (French lyrics) and set to music by Calixa Lavallée. It was first performed in Quebec City in 1880. The song was approved by the Parliament of Canada in 1967 as the unofficial national anthem and then adopted officially on 1 July 1980.
A black bear cub named Winnipeg, or Winnie for short, was once one of the most popular attractions at the London Zoo, after it was donated to the zoo by Canada in 1915. Winnie became a favorite of Christopher Robin Milne and inspired the stories written by his father, Alan Alexander Milne, about Winnie-the-Pooh.
The lowest recorded temperature in North America was a reading of 63 degrees below zero Celsius (81.4 degrees below zero Fahrenheit), that occurred at Snag, Yukon Territory, Canada, on 3 February 1947.
Newfoundland was the first part of Canada to be explored by Europeans. Ironically, it was the last area to become a province, in 1949.
Canada has made a significant contribution to rock-and-roll music, beginning with “Sh-Boom” (1954) by the Crew-Cuts. Other famous Canadian rock-and-rollers include Paul Anka, Neil Young, the Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Steppenwolf, Avril Lavigne, Rush, and Bryan Adams.
Signs that You Might Be a Canadian
- You know how to pronounce and spell Saskatchewan without blinking.
- You are excited whenever an American television show mentions Canada, and you even make a mental note to talk about it at work or school the next day.
- You have ever switched from your heater to your air conditioner in the same day and then back again.
- You know all 4 seasons: almost Winter, Winter, still Winter, and road construction.
- ‘Eh’ is a very important part of your vocabulary and you understand all the 1,000 different meanings of ‘eh’ . . . eh?
- Someone accidentally steps on your foot, and you apologize.
- You have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who dialed the wrong number.
- Someone in a store offers to assist you - and they do not work there!
- You measure distance in hours.
- You understand these jokes and email them to all of your Canadian friends.
The McIntosh apple is the national apple of Canada. They’re great. If you find one that is frozen solid, it can be used as a cheap imitation hockey puck.
Canada became a sovereign nation when the British North America Act was passed by British Parliament on 1 July 1867, a day henceforth declared as Canada Day, though if it falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, the following Monday will be observed as the Canada Day holiday.
The Mounted Police were formed in 1873, with nine officers. In 1920, the Mounted Police merged with the Dominion Police to become the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), an organization that presently has more than 28,000 members. ‘Mounted’ originally referred to officers on horseback, sometimes called ‘Mounties.’
- Citizens of Canada are called Canadians.
- The capital city of Canada is Ottawa.
- Canada is the second largest nation on Earth in land area.
In 1527, John Rut of Saint John’s, Newfoundland (now a part of the country of Canada), sent a letter to King Henry VIII of England - the very first written communication, or correspondence, sent from North America to anywhere in the world.
Australian Tourist: Will I be able to speak English most places I go?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.
Canada has two official languages: English and French. The inhabitants of Quebec mainly speak French, and New Brunswick is officially bilingual (using two languages, in this instance English and French), while the rest of Canada’s people primarily speak English.
Most Canadians pronounce ‘z,’ the last letter of the English alphabet, as ‘zed’ rather than ‘zee,’ following the custom of most of the English-speaking world. It is Americans who pronounce ‘z’ as ‘zee’ to make it rhyme in the alphabet song taught in schools . . . do you remember the song that contains those memorable words ‘and now I know my ABC’s . . .’?
Gordon: What do smart Canadian students get on their tests?
Whitby, Ontario, Canada has more donut stores per capita than any other place in the world. Is it on your list of top ten vacation spots yet?
Brazilian Tourist: Can you give me information about hippo racing in Canada?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is the big country to your northwest . . . oh, forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary.
Canada is known as the home of large animals like the moose and the grizzly bear, but it is also home to about 55,000 species of insects and about 11,000 species of mites and spiders.
The province of Alberta, Canada is completely free of rats, at least the ones living outdoors - does anyone in Alberta have an indoor pet rat? Alberta might be just the place for you to move to if you have murophobia, the persistent fear of rats.
“Sister Hits Moose On Way To Visit Sister Who Hit Moose.” -Canadian newspaper headline
American Tourist: I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It is a kind of big horse with horns. Are they friendly?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: The animal you are referring to is a moose. Moose are very tall and dangerous. They will eat any person they find in their territory. You can scare them away by carrying a live skunk with you to spray at any you might encounter when you go hiking and get lost for weeks in the Canadian wilderness.
While Canadians did not invent cold, snow, ice, or blizzards, they have created many other impressive inventions, including kerosene, insulin, the electronic organ, the paint roller, voice transmission by radio, the caulking gun, the snowmobile, plexiglass, the electric cooking range, and the electron microscope.
Canadian James Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891 for his physical education students at the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts, United States of America, as an indoor team sport to play during long winters.
‘Canadian bacon’ is the American name for lean cured ham; in Canada it is called ‘back bacon,’ ‘pea meal bacon,’ or simply ‘bacon.’ It is different from ‘streaky bacon,’ which has a high fat content and is sliced into long thin strips, and is often fried in a skillet until crisp or crunchy and chewy. Canadian bacon can be served as a meat dish at meals any time of day, and streaky bacon is commonly served alongside eggs at breakfast. Both types of bacon are popular in sandwiches and salads and as pizza toppings. Tiny cubes of Canadian bacon, green peas, and little bits of carrots complement each other well when mixed into soups and rice dishes.
Paul: Where do Canadians keep their pigs?
Larry: In pigloos.
Poutine (po͞o’tēn) is a Canadian fast food dish consisting of potato fries (French fries) and cheese curds covered with brown gravy. The dish is prepared by frying strips of potato in cooking oil to make them crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and while they are still warm, cheese curds are placed atop them, and then warm gravy is poured onto them, so that the cheese curds are warmed but not melted. One translation for the word poutine is ‘mess.’ Would you please pass me a serviette (table napkin), I just spilled a mess of poutine.
Marcia: How do you spell Canada?
Jacob: What is the difference between a Canadian and an American?
Henry: A Canadian not only has a sense of humour but can also spell it correctly.
Ellen: What letter comes before ‘B’ in the alphabet?
Ellen: Oh, are you a Canadian, eh?
Myth: Canadians all say “eh,” “aboot,” “sowrry,” and “againe.”
Fact: Some Canadians do, and some do not.
French Entrepreneur: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Where can I sell it in Canada?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Myth: Canadians are lumberjacks and fur traders.
Fact: Most Canadians have mundane jobs in factories, offices, stores, restaurants, or as oil workers drilling holes in the frozen tundra.
“What is a Canadian? A Canadian is a fellow wearing English tweeds, a Hong Kong shirt, and Spanish shoes; who sips Brazilian coffee sweetened with Philippine sugar from a Bavarian cup while nibbling Swiss cheese, sitting at a Danish desk over a Persian rug, after coming home in a German car from an Italian movie . . . and then writes his member of parliament with a Japanese ballpoint pen on French paper, demanding that he do something about foreigners taking away Canadian jobs.” -Author Unknown
Canada is rich in resources: natural gas, oil, gold, coal, copper, iron ore, nickel, potash, uranium, and zinc, along with wood and water. Alberta has half of the world’s supply of bitumen, a type of pitch used in paving asphalt roads and sealing flat roofs against rain and snow.
Swedish Tourist: Is it safe to run around in the woods in Canada?
Canadian Tourism Bureau: So it is true, what they say about Swedes?
There was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck;
When they said, “Are you friz?”
He replied, “Yes, I is -
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.”
by Rudyard Kipling: as published in Hamilton Wright Mabie, Edward Everett Hale, and William Byron Forbush, editors: “Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories: The Young Folks Treasury” (1927)
Myth: Canadians live in igloos.
Fact: Nearly all Canadians live in houses that are similar to the house you live in, and only a tiny number of people live in igloos in the Arctic.
The University of Calgary offers a two-day course in igloo building.
“From Sea to Sea.” [English translation]
“D’un océan à l’autre.” [French translation]
“A Mari Usque ad Mare.” [original Latin]
-George Monro Grant: Canadian national motto, derived from the “Latin Vulgate” translation of “The Bible,” ‘Psalm 72,’ verse 8: “Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae.” (King James Version: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”)
Much remains to be learned about the ice-and-snow-covered land of Canada and the mysterious partially frozen and partially thawed people who inhabit it. Some folks believe that in winter, Canadians hibernate underground, while others insist that they fly to South America, although no one knows for sure. If you would like to help solve these mysteries and others, ask your school counselor for advice on becoming an anthropologist, or a scientist who studies humans.
Whether you are a Canadian or a foreigner, an entrepreneur or an educator, or wishing to be a tourist or hoping to be an immigrant, you will find many more fun and fascinating facts about Canada at www.CanadaFAQ.ca.
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