Canada turns 151

3Oh Canada, you’ve come a long way — and my, how you’ve grown. As the bells rang out at noon on July 1, 1867, you were introduced for the first time as a fresh-faced nation of four provinces and 3,463,000 people.
Now here were are, 151 years later, and you’ve grown into a country of 10 provinces and three territories and a population of 37,067,011. On a global scale, you rank 38th in total population while having the second-largest landmass. On the occasion of your birthday, let’s pull out the baby album and take a look back at some of your early photos, your history and some remarkable facts.
Canada facts
2The largest population centres are Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, with those six being the only cities with more than one million people.
2The highest tides in the world occur in the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
2Wasaga Beach at the southern end of Ontario’s Georgian Bay is the longest freshwater beach in the world.
2The Trans-Canada Highway is among the longest highways in the world, at 7,821 kilometres.
2The world’s most northerly active sand dunes are in Athabasca Provincial Park in northwest Saskatchewan.
2Canada covers a total area of 9,984,670 square kilometres. Of that, 9,093,507 square kilometres is land and 891,163 square kilometres is fresh water.
2Canada has six time zones.
2The three sunniest cities in Canada are: Calgary (2,396 hours per year), Winnipeg (2,353) and Edmonton (2,345).
2Ontario’s Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world.
2Average life expectancy in Canada is 82.2 years, which ranks it 12th out of the world’s 183 countries. No. 1 is Japan at 83.7 years. The United States ranks 31st at 79.3.
2Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories are two of the largest lakes in the world.
The average number of people per household in Canada is 2.6. Back in 1867, it was 12.
2The average age in Canada is 41. Alberta has the youngest population at an average of 36.7, followed by Saskatchewan and Manitoba at 37. Newfoundland and Labrador is oldest at 45.7.
Canada Day carries many different meanings for people, with celebrations and protests as diverse as the country itself. It can be a source of pride in Canadian accomplishment and a celebration of independence from Britain. For some, it is a source of sadness and referred to as “colonial day” in protest against European settlement. It’s the official start of school holidays, the first holiday of summer, or just an excuse to wear a lot of gaudy red and white and light fireworks. For much of the country, the enactment of the British North America Act (later changed to Constitution Act, 1867) in 1867 didn’t even apply to them. The fledgling nation had just four provinces — Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In the fall of 1864, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island gathered to discuss a Maritime union, fuelled by fears stemming from the U.S. Civil War and rumours that America wanted to expand its territory north. The colonies in the Maritimes viewed Britain’s increasing reluctance to maintain the expense of defending them as a threat and believed they needed to band together and form a larger government. Newfoundland was also invited, while leaders in the Province of Canada (formerly Lower Canada and Upper Canada) announced their interest in being part of the new union, too. The 1864 conference in Charlottetown brought them all together, but it took several years, several meetings in other cities and several legislative votes before most delegates agreed on a draft of the British North America Act in February 1867. Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland opted against joining, however. The draft was presented to Queen Victoria that same month and received royal assent in March, with July 1 set as the date for the union of the colonies into one dominion within the British Empire. Upon Confederation, the old province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec and the dominion’s first prime minister was John A. Macdonald. But hold on. This land we call Canada was still a long way from being what we celebrate today. With concerns over the U.S. looking to annex the West, after it purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire in 1867, the new dominion looked to extend its reach. The Northwest Territories and Manitoba were brought into Confederation in 1870.
British Columbia joined in 1871 and Prince Edward Island finally signed on in 1873. Yukon split from the Northwest Territories to become its own territory in 1898. Alberta and Saskatchewan joined in 1905 and, in 1949, Newfoundland became the 10th province.
The borders stayed the same for 50 years, until 1999, when Nunavut became Canada’s third territory. Even though the Constitution Act of 1867 provided a semblance of independence to the dominion, it wasn’t until the Canada Act of 1982 that Canada fully patriated its constitution. Up until then, the British Parliament was required to approve any changes to Canada’s constitution.

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