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Collected Wisdom

What's the line on where Canadians live? Add to ...

This week, Collected Wisdom walks the line. In particular, that famous line between Canada and the United States.

THE QUESTION

Canada is often portrayed as being north of the 49th parallel, writes Keith Morrison of Vancouver.  However, only the residents of the three prairie provinces live entirely north of the 49th. So what percentage of Canadians lives south of the 49th?

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THE ANSWER

First off, Ken Bell of Iqaluit rightly chides us for leaving a very important part of Canada out of the equation. "It was with some surprise that I found out that only the residents of the three prairie provinces live entirely north of the 49th," he writes. "It seems that you may have missed those residents of the three northern territories."

Our apologies. Rest assured that we at Collected Wisdom will make sure that several blameless minions are ruthlessly scapegoated over this. Now, back to the question at hand.

For the inhabitants of Toronto, writes Ab Dukacz of Mississauga, the 49th parallel lies about a nine- or 10-hour drive north, at Cochrane, Ont. Thus, almost the entire population of Ontario resides south of the 49th.

"St. John's is at about 47 degrees," he writes (two degrees south of the 49th) "and all the Maritime provinces lie south of that. Except for those in the prairie provinces (and barely Vancouver) all our major cities (Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City) lie south of the 49th."

He points out that in 2006, author Alan Rayburn delivered a paper titled North of the 49th Parallel as a Stand-in for Canada at the 40th annual meeting of the Canadian Society for the Study of Names, held at York University in Toronto. Mr. Rayburn reported that about 19 million Canadians lived south of the 49th parallel. Using figures from the 2006 census, that would mean about 60 per cent of Canadians then lived south of the 49th.

However, Nico Spronk of Waterloo, Ont., has been poring over maps and Statistics Canada's 2010 population estimates and figures that around 23.9 million Canadians (about 70 per cent) live south of the 49th.

THE QUESTION

"When people park illegally, they often put their emergency blinkers on to indicate they will be right back," writes Eric Morris of Montreal. "Does this trick make you less likely to get a ticket or are you more likely to get a ticket because you have drawn attention to your illegal parking?"

THE ANSWER

Former parking officer Daley Mikalson of Toronto says someone having their car's four-way flashers on while parked illegally rarely changed his mind about giving them a ticket. "Tickets were generally given to those who were impeding the flow of traffic or were frequent offenders in a given location," he writes.

"The only place where having four-way flashers on helped," he says, "was in loading zones where signage indicated that they were required. … I always felt if they didn't bother with their flashers, then they hadn't read the sign and did not try to follow the rules."

HELP WANTED

  • If the Bloc Québécois is registered as a federal party, says Emil Gadjanski of Dundas, Ont., why isn't it required to run candidates in ridings outside Quebec?
  • If you opened a bottle of beer at the top of Mount Everest, writes Mike Curtis of Vancouver, would it fizz up all over the top of the world?
  • News photos from the Middle East show rebels making the V for victory sign made popular by Winston Churchill in the Second World War, writes George Dunbar of Toronto. Was Churchill the first to use this hand gesture?

Send answers and questions to wisdom@globeandmail.com. Please include your name, location and a daytime phone number.

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