We asked some well-known Canadians and you, our readers, to help us build our list of 147 reasons to love Canada. What follows is the full list of 147 reasons, but we've clipped our favourites and compiled them into a shorter, more mobile-friendly list of our top 32 reasons.
1. Our national anthem
We are genuine and authentic, honest and are leaders to the world on so many fronts. I believe heavily in the words to our anthem "with glowing hearts" and "True North strong and free."
– Kaillie Humphries, the first woman to win gold in the bobsleigh at consecutive Olympics
2. We never say die
Canadians never give up on one another. When we were at 1-2 at the Olympics, people were still supporting us.
– gold-medal skip Brad Jacobs on the video sent to Sochi by a Grade 3 class in his home town, inspiration when the team needed it most
3. The maple leaf on travellers' backpacks from all over
While in Ireland, I met two people with Canadian flags on their packs and asked them what part of Canada they were from. They said nowhere – they were Americans who had discovered that showing the Canadian flag earned them special treatment. It's about respect. It's a fulfilling sense of pride and a great sense of identity. As a Canadian, we just know we live in the best country.
– Heather Moyse, Olympic gold medalist in the bobsleigh who has also represented the country in rugby
4. We play to win
We've been known for a long time for being happy to compete. "Oh, we made it to the Olympics." "Oh, we qualified for this tournament." The one thing about the Vancouver Olympics I remember is an attitude shift, that we're not just there to compete – we're there to win. It just carried on in London and Sochi.
– Olympic soccer striker Christine Sinclair
5. The 'Canadian swagger'
In my seven years as commissioner, the moment that was probably most fascinating to me was around the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto: We let fans carry the Cup the final five kilometres after a trek across the country. Five hundred people showed up at Varsity Stadium but, by the end, thousands had jumped in. That spontaneous act – in its patriotism, its sense of community, of belonging, of being proud of who we are – is something I call Canadian swagger. It's confident but humble at the same time. I'm not sure if it's possible but, if there's any nation that can pull it off, it's Canada.
– Mark Cohon, commissioner of the Canadian Football League
6. 5 per cent beer
Canada is pride, manners, hockey, wilderness – and 5 per cent beer!
– Canadian professional golfer Graham DeLaet
My favourite thing to do is to go for a boat ride and just go very slowly, with my family and my dog, at sunset. It's so peaceful and tranquil. You see the undisturbed natural beauty. That's something Canada has been extremely disciplined about – not to allow the over-commercialization of the most beautiful sites. We have a value system that protects the natural beauty of this country.
– Miles Nadal, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of marketing powerhouse MDC Partners
8. 'We're building a country together'
I was to address the student assembly at Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg. As I walked into the gym, I suddenly realized that I was walking by a 10-person, all-female, aboriginal group of drummers – and they were terrific.
After I listened to them for a while, I turned to go toward the mic and, all of a sudden, there was this tremendous crash and at the other end of the gym there was about a 20-person African drumming group – and they started to play and they were equally wonderful to listen to.
Then I realized that the two bands were playing in sync and off each other, and it hit me so hard, I could hardly speak. What a wonderful, wonderful sound this was – and what a wonderful picture it was of Canada. When I got up to the mic to speak, I could hardly get it out, I was just so touched.
So I started speaking to the students about what I had just seen and I started asking them about it. I asked the indigenous students about these kids who were either Canadian-born or from all over the world, how they work together. And I asked the other students how they work with the aboriginal students. And they both said: 'We're building a country together.'
If there is any symbol of Canada for me, it was that day.
– former prime minister Paul Martin
9. The 'small town' of Canada
I love being able to travel the world and run into a Canadian and feel like we are both from the "small town" of Canada. Like when someone says, "Oh, you're from Vancouver. Do you know John?" And three times out of five, you do know John.
– Olympic skier Manny Osborn-Paradis
10. Our raw natural landscape
Several years ago, a magazine editor built an off-the-grid home with her husband in Ontario's Haliburton Highlands.
"It was an incredibly humbling experience to build on such powerful terrain – to become the custodians of this beautiful wilderness," she says, and to celebrate her passion and respect for "the towering trees, the fresh water, the ancient rock and mighty wind," she quotes from a poem by her sister, Katherine Dimma:
"Your wolves speak a secret language of woods / that teem and thick in the burning cauldron of night. / The moon goes on forever in you and this the wolves know, / raking mercury over your vast museum of lakes, your ancient granite – you are almost as pure as when the world began. / And your people say, we know we are home, / for nowhere can we live as free and mild, / nowhere can we walk beside so much space, / and nowhere is the human heart more realized."
– Suzanne Dimma, editor-in-chief of Canadian House & Home
"I am in awe of the nature that we have the opportunity to experience as Canadians. It's savouring the snow-capped mountains and the bright blue ocean, or enjoying a sweet stroll along the sea wall. It's the calm of the Prairies, the serenity of the trees, and the gorgeous sunny days on the outdoor rink during the fresh Winnipeg winters. It's the adrenalin of jogging along crisp Lake Ontario. It's the national parks, the provincial parks. It can be fun to visit other places in the world, but there isn't anywhere that feels as amazing as our super home."
– Jennifer Botterill, sports broadcaster and three-time Olympic gold medallist in hockey
11. It's where we fall in love
Childhood is a country one never leaves. It's our first country, that we hold inside us the rest of our lives. This small poem evokes the summer when I was 8 on the banks of the Lorette River in Quebec. It's probably the most beautiful river in Canada, because it's the one where I played in my childhood. At 8, one can fall in love. My little neighbour, Nathalie (who lived in the cottage next door to my parents) was the same age. One day, as we were playing the woods, she came close to me and put a quick kiss on my lips. It was my first kiss, and tasted of candy. Of course, afterward we kept on playing because, at 8, it's important to live in the world of our games.
"I remember her face / from the first forest / hidden in childhood / and her daisy lips / moving toward the unknown / can you imagine a light lovelier / than the long, long time / climbing to the self / and memory / building itself a nest / for the possible next day / because wind blows through memories/ a wind of clearing and girl / lost in the woods of origins"
– Michel Pleau, Canada's parliamentary poet laureate
12. Lester B. Pearson
I have few distinctive memories of Mike Pearson from my childhood years when he was prime minister, and even the millions of Americans and Britons who have flown into Toronto would be hard-pressed to identify the man after whom the airport is named. But in my mind he edges out Montreal bagels and the 1979 Habs as representing Canada at its best.
Deceptively dull, he had a life of derring-do in sports, the military and diplomacy that would give James Bond a run for his money. He gave Canada many of the things it's proudest of: universal health care, bilingualism, the abolition of capital punishment, non-involvement in the Vietnam War, and a national identity, symbolized by a new flag, that was distinct from the Mother Country.
Most important, he won a Nobel Peace Prize which (unlike a certain other North American leader) he actually deserved, for conceiving and implementing one of humanity's greatest inventions: the armed peacekeeping force.
– Canadian scientist, linguist and author Steven Pinker
"As a UN staff member who worked in peacekeeping missions for many years in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East, I have a deep admiration for our late prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, a Noble laureate considered the father of modern peacekeeping for his important role in creating a UN force to resolve the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. In doing so, he put Canada at the forefront of peaceful resolutions of international tensions and conflicts that threatened world peace.
– Carl Campeau, a legal adviser for the United Nations who recently escaped after eight months of captivity in Syria
13. Toopie and Binou
You can disparage the CRTC as an outmoded policy-maker in the digital age, but here's one thing they got right: almost commercial-free kids programming. Just cross the border and watch American TV to see an endless barrage of advertising that bullies kids and their parents to buy-buy-BUY! It's not much better in Britain.
As the parent of a 3-year-old, I put the Canadian alternative just behind fire, the wheel and gun control in its importance and uniqueness. Toopie and Binou, an animated series from Quebec, is a favourite: Toddlers dig it.
– Mark Breslin, founder of comedy club Yuk Yuks
14. Our new $5 bill
What do I love about Canada? Everything, but, especially … all that water, salt and fresh; loons; the smell of the air on Signal Hill; poutine, followed by beaver tails for dessert; our humility, our bilingualism and our multiculturalism – our new $5 bills. There are so many cool places to go and people to meet in this country, I will never do it all, but I will never lose interest in trying.
– Stephen S. Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada
I'm in love with a city. I leave her, often for long periods of time, even going so far as to give another city the title of home. But my heart knows the truth.
I left Montreal as a fresh graduate more than 30 years ago. The plan was to see the world, get some experience, then return home to start life as an adult and get a real job. One thing led to another and the return home is still on hold.
But I still need to slip back to my first and deepest love at least once a year. My time with Montreal gives me enormous pleasure – and pain. The more time I spend with her, the more time I need with her. When it's time to say goodbye, after an annual two- or three- or even six-week fling, I can't stop crying as I make my way to the departure gate at Dorval. It gets worse every year.
Montreal has other lovers, lots of them, and many at the same time. She has this sometimes annoying threesome going with Quebec and Ottawa, and has, while I watched sometimes from a distance and sometimes up close, considered dumping one of them – usually Ottawa. My feelings on this fickleness have changed quite a bit over the years, settling into an acceptance of any decision Montreal decides to make, as long as I can still have her.
Why do I love her? She smells so good. And I can almost taste her – sometimes a sandwhich from the Main, sometimes the aroma of coffee from St-Viateur Street – from as far away as the southern tip of Africa. But most of all she pulls me back because of her other children, whom I also call my family.
A little-known street called Avenue Clermont in Mile End is where the heart of my Montreal beats. Arriving at a certain door, as I do once a year, is the highlight. I look forward with great anticipation to this event shortly after Canada Day – when it is warm and probably sunny in Montreal, and Johannesburg is in the grips of a southern hemisphere winter.
– David Smith, journalist and founder of the Radio Okapi network in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Radio MINURCA (now Radio Ndeke Luka) in the Central African Republic.
16. On the edge
The thing I love most about Canada is our coastline – our landwash. Where the water and land meet. We have 265,000 kilometres of coastline, the longest of any nation and 16 per cent of the total coastline in the world. That means we have a lot of wonderful places to go for a walk. Seven million of us live on the coastline and many of us go down to the sea at every opportunity.
The landwash is a wonderful metaphor for the rhythm of opposites that is life itself; everything defined by and bound up with its opposite. Although the ocean and the land define each other in complex ways – the place where they come together – that threshold is a magical place.
We can stand in the security of the land and experience the harmonizing age and weight of the ocean and, from our place on that threshold, we can feel the song of the universe. And on that edge we know our place. It is essentializing – stripping away arrogance and hubris. It is a place for dreams and ageless conversation. And when the sea turns into fury, it does our souls good to retreat to the bosom of the land and the companionship of others.
Maybe our coastline is part of why Canadians are disposed to being able to find the moderation of the wonderful middle; to value what we cannot measure but whose value we know in our hearts.
I especially love the rocky, exposed coastlines of the North Atlantic – where you hear and see the echoes of time in the rocks. These ancient coastlines are wild places, vital places – that give us hope.
And perhaps from the coastline, we have acquired the natural hospitality that is so deeply Newfoundland – and so deeply Canadian:
"Tide and wind and crag/ Seaweed and seashell/ And broken rudder…/ And the story is told of human veins and pulses/ Of eternal pathways of fire/ Of dreams that survive the night/ Of doors held ajar in storms" (by E.J. Pratt)
– Zita Cobb, innkeeper and founder of Newfoundland's Fogo Island Inn
17. The Canadian flag
I hate winter. My parents immigrated to Canada from Jamaica in the 1970s and I tease them often about their decision to leave a tropical island for the woolly sweaters of Ontario. But the truth is that I understood as a child, and even more so now, that their decision to come here had nothing to do with the weather. It was about finding a place where they could reach their full potential and raise three kids who would have the ability to reach theirs. And they weren't the only ones – I love that so much of our country's collective pride is wrapped up in the fact that so many Canadians weren't born here but instead chose to be here. As a family travel writer I've taken my sons around the world and back. Each time we return and catch that first glimpse of a Canadian flag we're reminded of all that it stands for – and how lucky we are to call it home.
– Heather Greenwood Davis, writer and blogger
18. Canadian passports
As someone who has lived outside the country for many years, I am often asked about the one specific thing that reminds me most of Canada. Is it hockey, maple syrup, a loonie or a toonie? How about the unique traffic on the 401 or the old city of Montreal? Well, it could be all these things (except the 401), but for me, my prized reminder is a small, navy-blue booklet filled with coloured pages: the Canadian passport.
Our passports are almost the antithesis of Canada – our grim pictures (no smiles or adornment allowed) stand in stark contrast with the friendly, animated individuals who hold them. And having lived and travelled in conflict zones around the world, where equality, respect and freedom are often not present, I know that, when I see someone holding this little booklet, I will be standing with someone who understands the value of kindness, sincerity, curiosity and dignity; someone for whom basic rights – such as health care and education – are not merely for a certain segment of society and someone who values my views and beliefs, even if we disagree.
When I see this passport, I invariably strike up a conversation with its holder and after exchanging our passport mug shots, complaining about the 401, laughing about politics, and our longing for good coffee, we always smile and talk about how fortunate we are to have one another.
– Diana Buttu, a former adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a spokesperson for the Institute for Middle East Understanding
19. Canmore, Alta.
Larch trees, valleys and ridges, layered pinacles and, high above the Bow River, snow-capped peaks. I have lived in Canmore – tucked into the heart of the majestic Canadian Rockies – for the last five years. It was here that I came in 2009, disoriented and traumatized after spending 460 days as a hostage in Somalia. It was here that I began to recover, taking solace in the quiet, going for long walks in the brisk cold air, awed by the grandeur around me.
The small-town community embraced me as one of its own, bringing me hand-knit blankets and baskets of tea. As I regained my health I have continued travelling and working outside Canada. Yet I am never happier then when I am driving back from the Calgary airport, and the Three Sisters come into view, because I know I am home.
– journalist and bestselling author Amanda Lindhout
20. The Lucky Iron Fish
I love Canada for the creativity of each new generation – creativity that can make a difference in people's lives. A wonderful example of this is the Lucky Iron Fish. Developed at the University of Guelph, it is a simple and inexpensive object used to reduce iron deficiency in such places as Cambodia.
People from so many nations have contributed to making Canada a great country. The Lucky Fish is one of the ways Canada is giving back to the world.
– David Mirvish, theatre producer and art collector
Full disclosure. When I first moved to Saskatchewan, I was a little upset with God. When you belong to a religion that has you pray five times a day, and send out a divine request to become "a famous international journalist," you assume "needs to be in big international city" is implied. Wrong.
Toronto was the only city I'd ever known and loved. Driving down the Queen Elizabeth Way is still my idea of a roller-coaster. And in 1993, newly married, I told my freshly minted husband that there was no way I was moving to Regina, his home town. "Is that one or two provinces over?" I asked when we first started talking.
He was appalled, but I was a Toronto girl through and through. After the wedding, he drove me through downtown Regina, which lasted all of three minutes. Where was the traffic jam, the endless Starbucks, the mindless high-rises? It was flat and there were no roller-coaster highways, unless you drove to Qu'Appelle Valley really fast.
Sami had grown up in Regina, and it was the only city he'd ever known and loved, but he relented.
Then, a few days after we were married, the Ontario government passed a three-year moratorium on billing numbers for physicians who hadn't trained for at least one year in the province. Sami had just graduated from the University of Saskatchewan. If I wanted to be with my husband and continue to have sex after waiting all those years (not hard when there weren't any offers), I'd have to move with him back to his home.
I came to realize you have to be pushed out of Toronto to appreciate the rest of Canada. My crusading international journalism career was over, but instead I became a TV writer inspired by the move to the Prairies.
And it was here that I discovered young children do not believe in feminism; they prefer patriarchy. "Your job is to stay home, make food and look after me!" cried my seven-year-old son when he found out I had to be in Toronto for six months, returning home for brief visits on weekends, mostly for the above-mentioned perk.
So it was teachers, neighbours and friends in Saskatchewan who rallied around my harried husband and our four young children, providing them with the birthday parties, rides to school events and a Kleenex to cry into because "mommy had disappeared." This was support that as a young woman, I had never considered vital. It takes a village to raise kids and I had found mine in Saskatchewan.
Prayers get answered in ways that we never intended for careers we never considered.
– Zarqa Nawaz, creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie and the author of Laughing All The Way To The Mosque
22. The Trans-Canada Highway
I was driven back and forth across Canada many times as a child, and I have done the journey with my own children. That trip – even with the endlessness of Northern Ontario – has built in me my love for this country. Holding your breath in the tunnels in mountains (so you get your wish), the endless skies of the Prairies, the Canadian Shield, the Great Lakes, and just the amazing ancientness of the land, all of those things connected by one long highway. For me, that's the Canada I love.
– Annie Kidder, founder of People for Education
23. Prairie summers
Some of my fondest memories are of the long drives to my grandmother's summer cabin as a child, and later to my parents' cabin with my own children. There is nothing more beautiful than the summer scenery in western Manitoba – bright yellow mustard fields, rolling hills, endless skies, prairie lakes and long summer sunsets.
– Anna Stokke, co-founder of WISE Math, a Canadian coalition to improve math education, and a professor of mathematics at the University of Winnipeg
24. We stand up for each other
The one thing I must say is that the little family of academics here fight for each other. Within 72 hours of my firing, 1,800 people from schools across Canada were willing to put their names on a petition to bring me back. All those people were willing to stand up and say, "This firing was wrong."
And there were so many emails and tweets. Here's one: "I admire your courage and determination. You are my hero." I don't know this man who sent me this but he's from Milden, Sask. It's mind-boggling. I'm just a little dean who got fired.
– Robert Buckingham, former dean of public health at the University of Saskatchewan
I was born in India, and was 7 when we moved to Timmins, Ont.. where it gets really cold in the winter. When the temperature goes down – we would get nights that were minus-40 – any moisture in the atmosphere would precipitate out. I always remember how, waking up in the morning, there was often this beautiful snow that sort of sparkled in the sun.
– Arvind Gupta, president of the University of British Columbia
26. Canadian maples
We have these maple trees here that in the fall, in a particular period, produce a colour that I have never seen anywhere on the planet. They're not the same as the maple leaves we have in New England. They're just spectacular. They are a deeply saturated red – perhaps garnet comes closest although, as I said, I have never seen this colour in nature or man-made.
– David Helfand, president of Quest University in Squamish, B.C., an American who has lived in Canada for six years
27. Mountain hikes
As an Albertan, I've spent many hours hiking through the Rocky Mountains, winding my way through trails outside Jasper and Banff. Indeed, the time spent in the outdoors is the best possible escape from a challenging week in entrepreneurship, where the stresses of building a company can seem overwhelming. Each time I return from these hikes, I feel energized by the expansive landscape of trails, streams, rivers and lakes. There is something distinctly Canadian about these times spent outdoors, and it is one of the many reasons why I cherish living in this country.
– Emerson Csorba, founder of Gen Y Inc. and a 3M national student fellow
28. The Chicken Lady
We're a country where government-funded television broadcasts a show (or at least used to) like Kids In the Hall. Where would we be without Chicken Lady?
– Garrett Dougherty, bassist for the Montreal-based band Le Trouble
29. We care
I love how Canadians care about the world around them. From the @LuckyIronFish project to @WorldUniService student-refugee program, Canadians make a difference.
– David J. Hornsby, senior lecturer in international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa
I have lived outside Canada for over a decade, but my country is still a reference for me. It is like a large thought, a place of common sense and intelligence in a dangerous and confused world. I work in international relations and diplomacy and, when I witness chaos and conflict, I bring to mind a quote by Pierre Elliott Trudeau:
"As against the 'invisible hand' of Adam Smith, there has to be a visible hand of politicians whose objective is to have the kind of society that is caring and humane."
Fewer and fewer politicians enact this around the world, including in our country. Yet, our reputation in the world remains surprisingly positive because of this basic unstated perception. The idea is engrained in me, no matter where I live or travel, as much as my eternal wish that the Montreal Canadiens will again win the Stanley Cup.
– John Bell, former United Nations and Canadian diplomat and director of the Middle East program at the Toledo International Centre for Peace in Madrid
30. Two words: Ann-Marie MacDonald
From her riveting novels to her acting to her beautiful face.
– Emma Donoghue, Booker-shortlisted novelist
31.Trudeau on a trampoline
"When I was much younger, I was at Canada Day in Ottawa. Outside the National Arts Centre there was a huge crowd gathered around a trampoline. As I walked towards it, I caught sight of a familiar face, but thought, 'No can't be...' And yet as I got closer I realized that, 'Yes, it was.' Pierre Trudeau on the trampoline with his sons standing around in the crowd watching their dad.
If there were security people there, I couldn't see them. And that experience gave me a sense of direct access to our political leaders, which I have claimed as a right since then, making a part-time career out of advocacy on various issues, most recently involving Canada's built heritage.
Last week I was flying to Ottawa, waiting in the flight lounge to board and noticed Tom Mulcair, no security, no aides, the leader of the official opposition flying along with everyone else. I have also run into Michael Ignatief at the airport, same story. All alone, no one bothering them.
Over the past five years, I have been advocating to protect the views of the Ontario Legislative Assembly, working with former Speaker Steve Peters. That campaign had some success, but I think my sense of its symbolic importance is directly connected to my ongoing sense of wonder that even post-9/11 Canada is a place where our leaders walk among us so easily, something that is uniquely Canadian, and that we should never take for granted.
– Catherine Nasmith, architect and heritage activist
32. Teeing off, no helicopters overhead "What I wouldn't give to be booking a tee-time at my local Canadian golf course, spending my evenings watching the sun set at the driving range, and making regular visits to Golf Town to hold that new Titleist driver, wondering whether it's really worth 500 bucks, whether it will give me a few extra yards off the tee.
There's an 18-hole championship layout just a few kilometres down the road from my hotel in Damascus, but it may as well be in another country. Last time I was there was in 2012 and I had to hightail it off the driving range for fear that the helicopter gunship firing overhead would mistake my shiny Mizunos as something else. With my heart pounding, the last I saw of the course was in the rear-view mirror of my armoured Land Cruiser as I sped away.
It seems odd that when I think of Canada I'm reminded of golf. Surely there are more important things than breaking 90. But it's not golf itself that's important but what it represents: the ability to walk freely, to hang out with friends, to enjoy the outdoors. It's these simple things that we all too often take for granted, but it's these things that matter most. No place have I learnt this lesson more than in the last two years of war in Syria." – Simon Hacker, logistics officer for the World Food Programme in Syria
33. That our national identity is about not really having one "Working in China, a country with a very clear and strong sense of national identity, what I've come to appreciate most about Canada is that we don't have one ourselves. Because a strong sense of 'us' naturally engenders an equally strong sense of 'them' and an alienation of the Other.
Unlike other immigrant societies like the United States or Western European countries, we don't have an overly dominant traditional or mainstream culture of our own. People have a pretty clear idea of what it means to be an American, to be British or Italian, but what does it mean to be Canadian? What is Canadian culture? Apart from a few tidbits (Timbits?) here and there, we don't really know. Any attempt to define a Canadian identity, our culture or our values, usually descends into vague generalizations that could pretty well include anyone the world over. Basically, what it takes to be Canadian is just to be a decent human being and call this place 'home.' And that's a huge advantage, because not only does it make us perhaps the most welcoming (if far from perfect) society in the world, it also on balance makes us more adaptable when we travel abroad. It's a lot easier to find commonality when you don't think of yourself as being unique and exceptional, and when you deal with intense diversity within your own collective identity.
Some may see this as a problem and try to congeal a sense of Canadianness around rallying points like hockey or some concocted summary of 'shared values,' but I see our diffuse sense of national identity as one of our greatest strengths." – Mark Rowswell, a.k.a. Dashan, renowned Canadian comedian, performer and host in China
34. Charlevoix, Que.
"Where else can you ski while at the same time watch an icebreaker open the way for a cargo ship on the river below? Living in China makes you appreciate Canada's clean air and water and how close to nature Canadians are." – Guy Saint-Jacques, Canadian Ambassador to China
35. We're safe (and that's not boring)
"If you say the word 'Canada' in the war zones where I've been living in recent years, people usually respond: 'Ah, good. A safe place.' That's one of my favourite things about Canada, the way our country embodies the idea of sanctuary – especially for people who do not feel safe in their own countries. I tell my Afghan friends about neighbourhoods in Toronto where you can hear the evening call to prayer at the local mosque, smell the sizzling kebabs and see women in skimpy tank tops sharing the sidewalk with men wearing traditional shalwar kameez. My part of rural southern Ontario includes some religious conservatives who prefer horse-drawn buggies instead of cars – but, I explain, such distinctions do not ignite wars.
Yes, violent crime still exists in Canada. Still, there's something magical about watching the facial expression of a Libyan militiaman while I explain Canadian gun controls: not only does the government ban citizens from buying Kalashnikovs, but the state also refrains from using such weaponry to massacre people.
Sometimes I tell the story about my early years as a journalist when I worked the overnight shift at a Toronto newspaper and listened to police scanners. My job was to monitor the city for shootings, stabbings, and other mayhem, but hours would pass with almost nothing on the radios except static and silence. I'd look out the window at the bright lights of Canada's biggest city as millions of residents slept in peace. It's a beautiful view, and it only gets prettier as you go further away." – Graeme Smith, a former Globe and Mail correspondent, is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group in Kabul
36. Gentle patriotism. Sometimes expressed with a bugle
"There is a gentler patriotism more about the traits and qualities that inspire and encourage that we should never fail to embrace.
I tear up easily at stories of refugees who as adopted Canadian citizens achieve huge new vistas for their new country and their own lives, or veterans of old or new battles whose selfless devotion to others preserved freedom or let girls in far away lands attend school.
But a Canadian moment I shall not forget was Remembrance Day, 2012, in Kingston, Ont., Cold and windy, but not too wet. The usual large gathering at the cenotaph behind the hospital next to Lake Ontario. Prince of Wales Own Regiment had marched in, along with the flag party from the Royal Canadian Legion. To applause all around the distinguished, irrepressible and sometimes halting veterans marched in too. Wreaths were placed. Padres offered prayers. 'The act of remembrance' was recited.
But as we glanced around for the bugler to do the last post – that place next to the podium was glaringly empty. For some logistical reason, no bugler was there.
A cadet band commander gently asked Margaret 'Meg' Morgan,a young PWOR cadet Sargeant Bugler (not quite 14) if she might step in. Her eyes said 'I have not practiced, there are a thousand people here, and why me?' Her voice said, 'Yes, sir, I will do my best.' No one outside the immediate podium area realized someone was standing in for the designated bugler, whose car problems prevented his arrival. Meg's notes, cadence and tone were that good, that broad and that clear.
Patriotism is about character, steel, spirit and being there to help. A young cadet bugler created a rare insight about what that all means." – Former senator Hugh Segal
37. Maple syrup "Radio host Peter Gzowski once ran a contest to come up with the Canadian equivalent of 'As American as apple pie.' The winning entry? 'As Canadian as ... possible, under the circumstances.' Droll as that may be, I beg to differ. The answer is obvious: As Canadian as maple syrup. That smoky/sweet, sticky taste drawn from the sap of a living tree, a northwoods communion, poured on pancakes, blended with ice cream, infused into bacon: if you could lick Canada, it would taste like maple syrup." – Author Will Ferguson
"We love Canada because....we are responsible for three-quarters of the world's output of Maple Syrup!" – Christie Smythe and Andrea Lenczner of Smythe
38. Montreal bagels "Straight out of the oven." – Documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici
39. Our tolerance "Canadians have a distinguishing social generosity. Peacefulness, fair-mindedness, understanding and tolerance. Although we, as a society, have to remind ourselves of this because it's easy to lose sight of. That is what being Canadian means to us, and what in all our travels, really sets Canada apart." – Designers George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg
"To me, Canada means tolerance. At a time when the world – especially the region I live in, the Middle East – is marred by deep ethnic, religious and national tensions, Canada stands out as a place where tolerance has created a pluralistic society. How wise has Canada been to enable a rich cultural mosaic based on mutual respect.
Here in Israel our basic laws on civil rights have been based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and I hope that Arab countries in the region will discover Canadian-style tolerance too.
Unfortunately, there are few echoes anywhere in the Middle East, not even in Israel, of Canadian cool: the laid-back, calm and polite character of society. Things here are more rough-and-tumble, blunt and uptight.
Alas, there also is no major league baseball, hockey or football here either. We still have a lot to learn and adopt from Canada." – David Weinberg, Israel office director of Canada's Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Jerusalem
40. We're still becoming We're more than hockey and fishing lines/ off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes/ and some say what defines us/ is something as simple as "please" and "thank you"/ But we are more than genteel or civilized/ we are an idea in the process of being realized. – Dean and Dan Caten
41. It's a great place to be a mother "As a parent, I couldn't imagine any other place to raise my son. I love more than anything the pure joy of mothers' faces when they see their child succeed. It makes all the pain of migrating worthwhile, and though danger – guns and shootings – lurks even in Canada, for many mothers Canada is still safer than wherever it might be we migrated from." – Canadian model and activist Yasmine Warsame, originally from Somalia
42. We thrive on entrepreneurship "I love that Canada is a country where 60 years ago my father, as a young man, could open a store in an off-beat part of the city and grow it into a national chain of menswear stores to rival the best in the world. Canada was then, and is now, a country where people are accepting of new ideas. We thrive on entrepreneurship." – Larry Rosen, chairman and CEO of Harry Rosen Inc.
42. Our writers "What I love most of all is reading about Canada's history, landscape and people from our wealth of writers. I can walk the streets of Toronto with Michael Ondaatje (In the Skin of a Lion), learn the hard truths from Joseph Boyden (Three Day Road) and feel the vastness of Cape Breton with Ann-Marie MacDonald (Fall On Your Knees). The list is endless." – Joyce Gunhouse of Comrags
– "A country whose soul is large enough to accommodate both Farley Mowat and Alice Munro has to be great. Sometimes, we forget that. This Canada Day, it would be wonderful if a few thousand of us resolved to read High Latitudes and Dear Life. Those are two books that offer views of ourselves that will make us think beyond the nastiness of the daily news or the difficulties of everyday challenges. When I arrived in Canada in 1969, what made me stay here was reading Canadian writers." – Anna Porter
43. Roadtrips "They were short to begin, when I was small. A visit to the apple orchard, Niagara Falls near Christmas, the trees and sidewalks shining with ice. And to the family cottage, occasionally stopping for fries along the way, or to peer through a farm fence, trying to coax the horses to come near. Leaving my family behind it was to Algonquin to camp, travelling late in the night, Led Zeppelin too loud. Through the Rockies to Kelowna on icy roads in late spring. Quebec City, and up around the Gaspé in early fall, fish drying in the sun. To Drumheller and the Badlands, hitching back to town after a tire went flat, with the spare, even flatter. To St. John, N.B., to visit family, stopping at every Frenchy's along the way. From Calgary bound for Hamilton in the dead of winter, car maintenance fund used to buy a cassette player ... the northern lights, the desolate snow covered prairies, the darkest dark. An hour outside Wawa, front axle seized, we gave the car to the tow-truck driver in return for getting the five of us into town. Each an adventure all its own. Why I love Canada? Roadtrips." – Judy Cornish of Comrags
44. Our bold design (and nice designers)
"I love how Canada's hottest designers reflect everything that holds Canada dear to me – bold and modern with a global edge that you can't quite place. Tanya Taylor and Greta Constantine, for example, create fashion that is dynamic with an understated elegance. You can wear it anywhere in the world and feel completely on trend. And the best part is that the designers are so incredibly nice." – Lisa Tant of Holt Renfrew
45. Toronto. Take that, haters.
"The further I travel from home, the more drawn I am to the place I'm from: Toronto has it all – it's a diverse and truly multicultural city with energy and buzz. And that diversity, I believe, gives Torontonians a built-in advantage to acquiring a global perspective and engaging on a global stage. Toronto is home to international sports teams, world-class restaurants, a vibrant arts scene including what I think is the world's best film festival ... and yet it's still small enough to relate to. To me, Toronto perfectly captures what Canada offers to the world." – Dani Reiss of Canada Goose
46. The sight of the ocean near my Vancouver home I am on the water/ revelling in the moment./ Exploring with my love,/ discovering the land together./ Scratching the salted coastline,/ like the captains before me, and before them./ Paddling the marsh as a boy,/ scouting frogs and painted turtles./ Teaching my kids to dive,/ doing swans off the boathouse./ Pulling the catch through the hole in the ice,/ waiting for spring melt to come./ Skiing the glass, with birches reflected,/ perfecting arcs and spray./ Listening to the rivers surging,/ Hearing rocks making their way to the mouth./ Fishing again with Dad and the loons,/ daydreaming future journeys. – Steve McFarlane, principal in the architectural firm Office of McFarlane Biggar. Their latest project Fort McMurray Airport, just opened
47. My Norman Rockwell, On Top of the World
"Norman Rockwell's On Top Of The World is the very first work of art that I acquired when I was 17.
I have always believed that everything I ever dreamed was available to me in Canada. On Top Of The World represented all if my boyhood dreams. I made – made – my parents hang it above my Dad's La-Z-Boy recliner. My dad drove a beer truck for 49 years, and the La-Z-Boy sat across from our black-and-white television with rabbit ears on top in our 800 square-foot castle at 2570 East 5th Ave.
Then On Top Of The World hung above the fireplace of our house when I married the girl I met in grade 4 (I was 20).
And today On Top Of The World hangs on our warehouse wall watching over a contemporary art collection, just waiting to go into one of my children's homes, reminding me every day that I am still a Canadian boy that knows where my home is, here in Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA.
Bob Rennie, Vancouver's "condo king," is owner of Rennie Marketing Systems and an avid art collector who maintains his own art museum.
48. We're always game for a new normal "These days I love Canada because it's possible to put on a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream on the main stage of the Stratford Festival that celebrates same-sex marriage rights and thousands of students, seniors and Stratford Festival regulars come and celebrate with us every day.
The fact that this is our new normal fills me with hope. I see Canadians as being remarkable in our ability to change and adapt. Even though we seem to be inundated by stories of how polarized we are around important issues, my first-hand experience is one of an open-minded citizenry willing to consider other points of view.
As a theatre artist, this makes this country a great place to be. Theatre after all, thrives on challenging its audiences with multiple points of view." – Chris Abraham, artistic director of Crow's Theatre
49. Bilingualism "I love that my kids speak both French and English even though I don't (yet)." – Filmmaker Michael Dowse
In June 2013, Jean-Pierre Blais found himself in Whitehorse with some time on his hands after a regulatory hearing wrapped up. The chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission set out on a solo road trip that took him north. After enjoying a grizzly-bear cub sighting and vistas of mirrored lakes as he drove through Kluane National Park, he stopped for a bite to eat at a diner in Haines Junction, a tiny village where the Alaska and Haines highways meet. Mr. Blais, who is fully bilingual but grew up speaking French at home, shared the story that follows about the time a Mountie, a prospector and a CRTC chairman walked into a diner in the Yukon.
"I was having a soup and a grilled cheese sandwich when an RCMP officer walked in and started speaking French to the restaurant owner and so all three of us started speaking French together. Then an old prospector walked in and they started speaking French to him too. The prospector had immigrated to the area maybe 20 or 30 years ago, the restaurant owner had just bought the restaurant a year ago, the RCMP officer had maybe spent a decade there and I was just visiting. We were all speaking French and different roads had brought us there and it was the 24th of June. It struck me that as much as I like the industry and the agriculture that sit on the shores of the St. Lawrence, the Gatineau and the Outaouais, I don't want to settle just for that."
50. Our health care "I am so grateful to be a physician in Canada, where no one has to go into bankruptcy to pay for treatments that I recommend." – Dr. Brian Goldman, host of White Coat, Black Art
– "Being Canadian saved my ma's life.
Ma's kidneys started failing in the 1990s. By the end of the millennium, she was on the list for a kidney transplant. In 2002, she got the call. There was a "perfect match kidney" being saved for her. She was admitted to St Michael's Hospital in Toronto where the transplant was performed. One week later she was discharged from the hospital, just before her 52nd birthday, with a fully functioning new kidney.
Ten years later, once again, she was admitted to St. Michael's Hospital, this time with a mystery illness. She stayed there for two months before they diagnosed her with a rare disease called POEMS. Shortly after that, she was transferred once a day, five days a week, for three weeks straight, from St. Michael's to Princess Margaret Hospital for radiation treatment. Once the medical team was able to control the disease, ma was then moved to Bridgepoint Health, a rehabilitation hospital, to learn how to walk again. She was a permanent resident at Bridgepoint for six months, for a total of nine months of uninterrupted hospital time.
When they sent her home in 2003, ma was outfitted with new leg braces and, most importantly, hope. She thought she was going to die.
And she would have died if she hadn't been in Canada. Or she would have had to sell her home, her belongings, everything my parents have worked for 40 years for since immigrating here from Hong Kong. Our health care system may not be perfect. Certainly it has its flaws. But you'll never hear me shitting on a fundamental Canadian right that bailed out my mother multiple times and gave her back to me – so that she can keep nagging me, pushing me, loving me, and teaching me to appreciate what it is that we have here."
– Elaine Lui, blogger, CTV host and author of Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter to Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)
51. Our compassion
"On Canada Day I reflect on the immense compassion our country represents before the world. It extends from the stewardship of our natural riches to the respect we have for the people we live and work with. Compassion fosters our fundamentals of diversity and education that exist from east to west, providing the oxygen of immense economic opportunity. As a Canadian entrepreneur I have devoted myself to maximizing resources, founding Lululemon in 1998 and opening our first store in Vancouver. Our success as a company is a testament to Canada, a country that benefits from a global culture of driven and innovative citizens. I start every day now with a hike up the Grouse Grind, and I marvel at a country where I can clear my head in the clouds in the morning and minutes later be working in a world-class city. It is no wonder I knew Canada was a place where I could begin a life-long adventure of business, charity and environmentalism." – Chip Wilson, founder, Lululemon Athletica
52. You can make it here. And still care about your employees John Sleeman, founder and chairman of Sleeman Breweries, turns 61 on July 2.
Your birthday is the day after Canada Day. How will you mark it?
I'll have a beer and celebrate. I generally turn it into a nice, long weekend. One time I didn't take my birthday off and came to work, and people sang Happy Birthday to me. I was so embarrassed. So now I just take it off and hope nobody notices.
What makes Canada special to you?
I'm a high-school drop-out. This is a country where people are given a chance. We don't have a class structure like so many other countries in the world. If you are willing to work hard, this country welcomes you.
There is this feeling sometimes that to be successful you need to leave Canada, but more and more we are nurturing people and getting our entrepreneurs to stay. It is a country of opportunity.
Are there particular places you find inspirational?
We have a country place on the way up to Owen Sound, in Ontario's Beaver Valley area. We chose it for all kinds of reasons. We wanted to be in farm country. We wanted to put on a pair of wellies and plaid shirt and just be in the country. It is very grounding for our kids. We are in a log house. We are not in a place with a $5-million kitchen Do Canadians have a different attitude towards business?
Canadians tend to have a softer approach. We still make tough decisions, but because we have traditionally been closer to the centre, and we don't have the political schism between the right and the left, we tend to care a little bit more about our employees.
We need to make a profit, but most Canadian business people are not exclusively profit-driven. There is a little bit of social responsibility mixed in there, which you don't always see in other countries.
Maybe that means we are not quite as competitive price-wise as we could be, but quality of life is pretty important to people in this country. The traditional mindset in Canada has been neither right nor left. We have a balanced approach to running the economy and looking after people who are disadvantaged.
53. Our apologies "Canada is the best country because you can walk into someone and they will apologize first." – Kelly Oxford, author and Twitter sensation
54. It's inspiring "The challenge in designing [a Bahai Temple in Chile] was to give material expression to the concept that 'Humankind is One.' This temple welcomes peoples of all faiths (or indeed none), all creeds, classes and races. As an architect, I found myself deeply moved by this project of a lifetime. At some point in my struggle – I don't precisely remember when – I reminded myself that the country to which my family immigrated almost five decades ago is, in every respect, a living expression of this vision. Canada is a society beyond nationhood: a population from every corner of the globe, a welcome to every cultural voice, an international reputation that is unique. In short, this country, as it unfolds, is my inspiration." – Siamak Hariri, founding partner, Hariri Pontarini Architects
55. We believe in the public good "There are so many things I love about Canada. But above all I cherish what has been the short swing of the political pendulum between left and right: Those on the left, who favour the public sector, understand that wealth generation is necessary to provide for the welfare of a nation; those on the right, who favour the private sector, believe that without that welfare we would be, in every sense, a poorer people." Architect Jack Diamond
56. There's an Indonesian restaurant in Kitimat, B.C.
"I remember going to Kitimat, B.C., about 15 years ago, and I found a restaurant that served Indonesian food. And I thought, 'This speaks to what this country is about.' And the restaurant was just absolutely top-notch, it wasn't some mish-mash or something. It was the best Indonesian food you can have – at a restaurant in Kitimat. That speaks to the diversity of this country and the richness of this country, and to me that is my Canada." – Hassan Yussuff, newly elected president of the 3.3 million-member Canadian Labour Congress, who moved to Toronto at age 16 from the South American country of Guyana
57. Our soldiers
"I think the best thing about Canada are the soldiers who keep us 'strong and free.' My mother and her-first born daughter were rescued from a hospital in Bruges, Belgium, when the Germans were bombing the city. The Canadian soldiers drove over floating bridges to return them home to their family, who thought they had perished. Because of this act of courage and commitment my family immigrated from Bruges to Canada in 1951 and settled in St. Edwards, Alta. As far as I am concerned, the generations that fought wars for Canada are the most deserving of a spot on the list of 147 reasons to love Canada." – Reader Mariane Musschoot, Edmonton
"I remember visiting Vimy Ridge and feeling a great sense of pride and respect being a Canadian and learning that it was there that soldiers from across Canada fought together for the first time, helping to define us as a nation and providing the freedom we live today. I've been fortunate enough to live in British Columbia, Ontario and New Brunswick, and it has been evident to me that Canadians from coast to coast share that same tremendous connection with each other and pride to be Canadian that I'm sure the soldiers that fought and sacrificed in 1917 felt wearing the Maple Leaf." – Anson Kwok, vice-president of condo development firm Pinnacle International
58. Canada Day on Parliament Hill
"I've been living in Ottawa for 21 years. I really enjoy being here for Canada Day. What I do is get up, go to the Hill for a bit and see the Snowbirds. I take my family, my wife and my son. And then in the mid-afternoon we go to a cottage or just go by the lake, relax and come back for the fireworks. It's a day to really embrace our culture, especially in the capital. People are very happy and excited. I usually don't work on Canada Day, so it's also nice to be a bit of a tourist in your my city." – Chef and Top Chef Canada winner René Rodriguez
59. The drive between Ottawa and Thunder Bay "Over the past several years my friend Mike Cooke and I make an annual pilgrimage to Thunder Bay in my jeep with the top down. It's the journey of going home. Two days of pure bliss on the roads. Beautiful small towns like Blind River, Thessalon, Terrace Bay and Nipigon and many more. Coffees with the locals talking about the weather and fishing and (yes) politics.
For me, the rugged landscapes on the north of Lake Superior are as beautiful as any in the world. It is spiritual to the senses. I love the vastness of the Great Lakes and the big rocks and hills shaped by glaciers many years ago. I love the smells of cut wood as the logging trucks go flying by. I love watching and listening to the seagulls searching for food. I love the feel of the sun and wind on my face.
I love the emotions of connecting with family and friends when we arrive at our destination. I love our Canada." – Kevin Page, Parliamentary Budget Officer for Canada
60. Being in a canoe on a quiet morning "Whether it's in the Attawapiskat River, or it's the Keele River in the Northwest Territories or on Lake Opeongo when I was a kid, that peaceful silence and the quiet of a canoe – that conjures up for me the best of Canada." – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne
61. The landscape that keeps us apart also brings us together "It sounds trite, but over and over, it is the geography in Canada that gets me. Hiking the cliff that overlooks the St. John's harbour, snowshoeing in the Laurentians, a Prairie wheat field, a mountain forest, a canoe and another coast. The thing about it, aside from the beauty of it all, is that the very thing that keeps us apart is also the thing that brings us together. We started with a railway and fumbled our way to Medicare. No one could live here alone. So we come together. That's the real beauty." – Broadcaster and writer Stuart McLean
62. Manitoulin Island, Ont.
"I live in midtown Toronto. Doesn't get much more urban than that. So when I see this incredible vista every summer near Kagawong on Manitoulin Island, I rejoice in my other Canada. A seven-hour drive north of my home, this place is plenty remote. We can go days without seeing another soul. And you won't find a McDonald's or Tim Hortons on the island either. No franchises allowed. This is Canada in all its rural beauty." – TVO host Steven Paikin
63. Toronto ravines "I walk or bike in Toronto's ravines every day. For me, they are the essence of the city." – Richard Florida
64. "The vivid clarity of end-of-day light in Alberta's foothills." – Joe Clark
65. Northern Ontario on the May 24th long weekend "The stubborn rain, the ravenous black flies, the carcass-smell in the cottage and a lake with ice around its shaded corners. But dammit, it's not winter!" – Samantha Nutt
66. Sir Alexander Galt and his son Elliott "Sir Alexander Galt and his son Elliott founded Lethbridge – as well as coal mines and railways in the area, and the first large-scale irrigation project in Canada. Their perseverance, dedication to their country and their ability to connect the right people with the right projects were instrumental in developing southern Alberta." – Reader Belinda Crowson, Lethbridge, Alta.
"We have visited the island four times and every time I'm reminded how supremely special it is. This picture was taken by my husband when we were on a hike on the Skerwink Trail near Trinity, Nfld., in the summer of 2008. The trail (called "one of the top 35 walks in North America and Europe") was magical as the fog descended and then pulled away to reveal the coastline. Canada would not be the same place without Newfoundland and its people." – Reader Mary Ellen Stoll, South Porcupine, Ont.
68. Canadian Immigration agents. Really "I have been living in Canada since August, 2010. I came as a student, then got my work visa to stay longer and am now applying for permanent residency. Canadian Immigration plays the biggest role in that: I always got my visas on time, airport agents were helpful and welcoming – I am really thankful for that. Canada is officially my home now." – Reader Karan Saha, Toronto
69. Highway 93
"Where else in the world can you see a baby bear, elk, caribou and mountain goats licking the salt off the road – all in a three-hour drive? Here is a photo of some mountain sheep taken on June 4, outside Jasper. When a bighorn ram decides to go on his set path up the mountain, with his females following, all the cars stop and watch as the animals proceed with their slow and dignified walk across the highway." – Reader Michelle Somers, Calgary
70. We're pretty good people "After the recent shootings in Moncton, the members of the community in which I police, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, demonstrated a profound sense of loss for those three Mounties. Businesses and government organizations lowered their flags to half-mast. Children asked their schools if they could wear red to show their support of the RCMP. A wreath was laid under the flagpole. Small tokens of appreciation were dropped off: flowers, fresh fruit, pretty much whatever people could give to show their support and to share the grief and perhaps ease the burden of my members in support of the greater RCMP family. I have many pictures with stunning vistas and unforgettable scenes in Canada but no picture can show how good Canadians are when it is time to help one another." – Reader Don Rogers, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Nfld.
71. Harris Park, London, Ont.
"I took this photo in Harris Park in London, Ont., while going for a walk during my lunch. It was spring 2013 and the colours were absolutely beautiful and the scenery was stunning. The park is located near Thames River and I could just sit there all day and just enjoy the beauty of nature." – Reader Nikolina Vratonjic, Etobicoke, Ont.
72. Roméo Dallaire "When Robert Reich was on The Daily Show, he asked, exasperated, 'Why can't we expect our public servants to be truly great people?' I hate that I deeply identify with this sentiment. But it also illuminates – by contrast – those in public office who have truly served Canadians, and people around the world. Like Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire. It is a rare and remarkable thing for a person to hold him or herself to higher standards when it jeopardizes personal safety, when it gains no re-election, and when no one but yourself demands it. As Force Commander of UNAMIR, and at great personal expense, Mr. Dallaire held himself accountable for the safety of genocide victims in a foreign country. Perhaps just as remarkably, he has remained unchanged by the perks of public office. He has advocated for veterans and their mental health, for PTSD sufferers, for child soldiers and global human rights.
Mr. Dallaire's legacy should raise all our standards." – Reader Heidi Lee, Vancouver
73. The illuminated High Level Bridge in Edmonton
"This bridge deserves to be on a list of reasons to love Canada – or, more precisely, the spirit that went into raising money to light it.
About a year ago, a group of Edmontonians pitched the idea of adorning the century-old High Level Bridge with tens of thousands of LED lights. But no government money was asked for. Instead, money was raised by citizens: Edmontonians donated for their children, their parents and their schools – their stories collected online.
We raised the $2.5-million needed for the project. And the bridge became a bridge of stories.
Our newly lit bridge debuts on Canada Day 2014." – Reader Glenn Kubish, Edmonton
"There is no other activity that unites Canada from coast to coast and from border to border more than shinny. It's the only sport where young kids, teenagers and adults can all join together, regardless of skill, and enjoy a friendly game of hockey outdoors on ice. It's a time for old-timers to feel like kids again, and for kids to feel like they are professional hockey players out on the rink with players three times their size. When all the sticks get thrown into the pile every player anxiously awaits their call, excited to be a part of whatever team they are selected to play on. And with each stick that is pulled is the opportunity for someone to emulate their favourite player. Shinny is Canada and Canada is shinny." – Reader Shawn Danko, Memphis, Tenn.
75. The Dionne Quints
"The Dionnes were born on May 28, 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. The miraculous five survived, and indeed thrived, despite all the odds against them – and their miraculous story gave the world a brief respite from the Depression and war. In one of the darkest decades of the last century, they made us forget our troubles. They, too, have been long forgotten by many – but not all of us." – Reader Leonard Belsher, Shawville, Que.
76. John Peters Humphrey "John Peters Humphrey was the principal drafter of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and served for two decades as the first director of the UN Human Rights Division.
With typical Canadian modesty, he did not raise a public fuss when the 1968 Nobel Peace Prize for the creation of the Universal Declaration was awarded to a French jurist, who quite frankly played a lesser role. But 20 years later, Mr. Humphrey's contribution was confirmed when a librarian recovered a handwritten draft of the declaration.
Modern human rights codes, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the strong sense of equality that infuses political and policy debate can all trace their roots back to Mr. Humphrey and his pioneering work." – Reader Michael Shapcott, Toronto
77. Our backyards
"A reason to love Canada? We have amazing backyards. This photo was taken in September of 2013 from the top of the Dome Road in Dawson City, Yukon. It was the first snowfall of the year." – Reader Bonnie Macdonald, Whitehorse, Yukon
78. Sir Sandford Fleming
"He was a driving force for the railroad network, which opened up expansion into the West. In addition, he designed Canada's first penny stamp, developed and campaigned for universal time zones, organized the first cable line (for communication) from Australia to Canada, and was Queen's University chancellor for 30 years." – Reader Kirstie Dyment, Collingwood, Ont.
79. The stone bridge in Pakenham, Ont.
"It is the only five-span stone bridge in North America. When I was a child, it was our stopping point on the way to my grandparents' cottage. We would get an ice cream from Petersen's ice cream and play on the limestone flats below the bridge and the falls. I could describe every turn in the road leading up to coming "down and around the corner' and then onto the bridge. A few years ago I took my husband and two of our children there for the first time." – Reader Angelique Ball, Bowmanville, Ont.
80. Tom Thomson "His paintings are the visual equivalent of our national anthem – he gave us images of our country in a new and maverick style that captured the spirit of Canada as it came of age as a nation. He continues to live and be present with us from coast to coast. He was a rugged adventurer with a great vision whose life was tragically ended much too soon. Had Mr. Thomson not lived, Canada would have had to invent him. He is an icon and a hero." – Reader Virginia Eichhorn, Owen Sound, Ont.
81. Wolfe Island, Ont.
"I live on the south shore of Wolfe Island, which is the largest of the Thousand Islands. My husband retired from the military in the fall and we found a piece of paradise to put down roots: Our new community is small, friendly and people look out for one another, my son is thriving in the local school and our home represents so much of what Canada is known for – according to the Arrogant Worms – rocks and trees and water!" – Reader Glennis Newton, Wolfe Island, Ont.
82. Mark Carney
"He is an accomplished economist and leader and well-regarded by people around the world. Despite humble beginnings in Northern Canada, he shows you can get to the world stage – and stay there." – Reader Daren Miller, Calgary
83. Oktoberfest in Kitchener-Waterloo
"Kitchener and Waterloo turn into a Bavarian outpost during Oktoberfest – pretty girls in drindles, men in tracht, spontaneous outbreaks of polka, lots and lots of sausages, schnitzel (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) and beer steins. The picture I have uploaded is from the opening ceremonies of 2012, where the Canadian Pickers were the parade marshalls. They are standing on either side of Miss Oktoberfest. To left of the picture – keg tappers. It is a great way to close off the fall." – Reader Ana Golobic, Cambridge, Ont.
84. Stephen Lewis
"He exemplifies many of the great things about Canada – determination, a commitment to the greater good and a passion for his country. HIV/AIDS remains a taboo subject in many places, but Mr. Lewis perseveres, providing a better life for those who are affected by the pandemic." – Reader Rebecca Barr, Toronto
"I moved here from Pakistan; I belong to a sect of Muslims (Ahmadiyyat) who are brutally treated there. I celebrated my first anniversary in Canada in May. Every moment I spent here gave me a feeling of freedom – of speech, expression, exploration ... and counting. Live long Canada." – Reader Faizan Ur Rehman, Hamilton
86. The Kiskatnaw Bridge between Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C.
"In April of this year, we scattered the ashes of both my grandparents off Kiskatnaw. This is where they wanted to spend eternity – in the still untamed, yet pristine, river and by mountains and trees. My grandfather pioneered in the area and brought back his Welsh war bride to create a future for his family. This is my Canada." – Reader Tracey Logan, Belleville, Ont.
87. Georgian Bay, Ont.
"In a way, it is a lonely place. The pine trees stoop with the wind that pounds them. The stoic granite facades of these small, nameless islands loom large at dawn. And the dark, secretive waters surrounding them crash unyieldingly against their shores. Despite its stern exterior, this place gives me peace and comfort. I measure my personal growth by the time I have spent there, starting with my first trip at five or six years old. Its perennial beauty, made mythical to me as a young girl by the Group of Seven's landscape paintings, is something I carry with me always." – Reader Stacey Mighton, Ohio
"Every night I am reminded how lucky I am to live in the most beautiful country in the world by the stunning show of light and colour that takes place right outside my front door in Georgian Bay. This picture was taken off my front deck." – Reader Lois Barron-Ralph, Parry Sound, Ont.
"The seemingly untouched beauty of Parry Sound should be reason enough to make this list of things to love about Canada. But in case you need a few more: Fresh clean clear water, spectacular beaches, granite cliffs and islands, conservation programs to preserve and protect the area and its many species, war heroes and hockey players who have called this area home and still do. The photo is of Scott's Island, located on Georgian Bay and part of Killbear Provincial Park." Reader Scott Ferrede, Kitchener, Ont.
88. Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART)
"They are real-life GI Joes. If there is a disaster in any corner of the world, DART responds and is able to save lives and help people recover from some of the worst situations imaginable. I find it amazing that a country with such a small military is able to make such a gigantic impact in the world, and for no other reason than to help people in need." – Reader Erich Eisenmenger, Wainwright, Alta.
89. The Canadian Arctic "If there is anything that can so completely isolate an individual and put man in the context of an unrelenting and dispassionate nature, it is the windswept, treeless barrens and the bone-numbing cold of the flow-edge out on the sea ice. This is a challenging environment that demands and deserves your complete respect.
The details here amaze too: the brief beauty of ground-hugging Arctic flowers, the ingenuity of a bird nest located in a shallow depression on the tundra, a completely camouflaged stock-still Arctic hare quietly observing you, the noisy intruder.
I have also had the distinct pleasure of seeing polar bears and muskox in their native habitat, and beluga, narwhal and walrus in the frigid Arctic seas. Who needs an African safari when there are so many intriguing animals to see in the Canadian North?
Start planning your Arctic adventure now." – Reader Grant Baker, Yellowknife, NWT
90. The Montreal Canadiens "There are so many reasons for the Canadiens to be on a list of things to love about Canada. Their glorious history of success (24 Stanley Cups). Their exciting style of play – using speed and creativity to pressure the opposition and generate offence. Their trademark jerseys.
But there's also a proud ethos of multiculturalism that wins them fans. The team's best player, goaltender Carey Price, is a member of the Ulkatcho Nation in B.C. The second-best player, P.K. Subban, is the son of two immigrants from the Caribbean. The team also includes players from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Francophones and Anglophones, a Métis-Canadian and the son of Polish immigrants.
The Canadiens embody the Canadian spirit, and they play hockey the way it is meant to be played." – Reader Geoff Read, London, Ont.
91. Home-grown TV. "Canadian television shows are definitely at the top of my list of things I love about Canada: Rookie Blue, Lost Girl, Orphan Black, Flashpoint – almost without fail, Canadian TV proves that it can hold its own against foreign media. Perhaps it's thanks to the incredible directing, writing and producing on these shows. But I would also put it up to multi-faceted characters. No matter who you are, flick your TV on to a Canadian network and chances are that you'll find a character you can relate to." – Reader Alyssa Snow, Toronto
92. Tim Hortons and poutine. – Reader Alexander Locke
93. "Our semi-regular attempt to annex the Turks and Caicos Islands." – Reader Patricia Bertrand
94. "Our democracy, as protected by our amazing Charter of Rights and Freedoms." – Reader Stephen Dorsey
95. Stompin' Tom. – Reader Richard Glenn
96. Gay marriage! – Reader Penny Lane
97. Gun control. – Reader Mardi Camille McKerrow
98. "Our revered national police force: The RCMP." – Reader Glen Edwards
99. Blue Rodeo. – Wendy Hicks
100. Benedict Vanier and his brother Jean. – Alan Hustak
101. "We managed to send Justin Bieber and Celine Dion to the United States. What's not to love?" – Johanna McMenemy
102. "Our freshwater supply. We are the envy of the world." – Kevin Bearinger @bearkev123
103. "Beavertails on the Canal in Ottawa. Gatineau in the fall." – Maryanne Gaulin @MPG1love
104. Ceasars. "They taste so good and can only be found in #Canada. Canadian bartenders make them best. #ohCanada." – Reader Juliette McGrath @JulGonsalves8
105. Our children. "Some of the best educated and motivated people in the world!" – John @venema_john
106. "Awesome summer sunsets at Sandbanks Provincial Park." – Toni Amato @toni_amato
107. "Easy. Mike Weir and @WeirWine, two of our country's treasures!" – Richard Park @RichardParkGolf
108. Gros Morne National Park. – Juliette Brintells @Jules_Brintells
109. "Newspaper dispensers that trust you will only take one, and we do!" – Ray Savage @rsavage15
110. Our diversity, it's gotta be said.
"I love that Canada represents such a diversity of people, opinions, experiences and beliefs, which allowed me to grow up with a very open-minded view of culture. In fact, my own race (I am Japanese-Canadian) is not something that I paid much attention to until Michael Lewis asked me about it while he was doing research for his book Flash Boys. He was surprised by how little of an impact that race had on my upbringing. So I am indebted to my family, friends and Canada for allowing me to grow up with an appreciation for diversity. And this appreciation carried over when I co-founded a new company, IEX, where more than 50 per cent of our employees were born outside the United States – a true blend of people, opinions, experiences, and beliefs." – Brad Katsuyama, head of IEX in New York
"What I love most about Canada is its diversity. Papineau – the riding that I represent in Montreal – for example, is home to one of Canada's most multicultural communities. The fact that there are residents of Spanish, Italian, Greek and Arabic heritage living and prospering as neighbours is a real testament to Canada's success. We are a country founded on diversity. It is at the core of who we are, and that makes me very proud." – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau
"What I love most about Canada is how diverse it is and how friendly and welcoming the people are." – Toronto's Orlando Franklin, Denver Broncos' offensive lineman
"I love this country, but must confess to being a bad Canadian, as I despise both nature and hockey (not necessarily in that order). But as an artist, what I love and am most proud of as a Canadian is the diversity and excellence of all its cultural producers: musicians, artists, writers, poets, film makers, dancers ... whatever the discipline, I think we stand out worldwide." – Kelly Mark, visual artist
"We're the most multicultural country in the world. It's special to me because my family came to Canada when I was eight years old. I didn't speak any English. So to be able to integrate, be able to go to school and ultimately strive and succeed, I think it was a good environment to make that happen." – Nitin Kawale, president of CISCO
"It's the diversity of our country: From people to places, east coast to west coast. When you think about the uniqueness we have – natural resources, wildlife, industries, cultures – you realize Canada is a very special and one-of-a-kind place. – Canadian golfer Mike Weir
111. Winning isn't everything.
"When I think of Canada and I think about Canadians, we're just good people. We want to help out. We want to support one another. In the bad times we're always there. For me, as an athlete, one of the greatest things I've ever experienced was the Vancouver games, seeing how much excitement and pride and emotion was involved ... even in the moments when we didn't win. Seeing that emotion was one of the biggest reasons I kept skating. I was pretty close to quitting in 2010. I was at a pretty low point there, I was coming off this injury and just switched over to long track [from short track] and didn't really know what I was doing. Seeing how proud people were to be Canadian made me want to represent this country and keep going with skating." – Olympic speed skater Gilmore Junio
112. We're a land of opportunity
"Above all, Canada to me means a land of opportunity, no matter where you come from, no matter where you started. There are few places in the world where one could move, as I did, from a small village hotel to one of the greatest universities in the world! The deeply rooted values of our country are truly its most valuable natural resources." – Suzanne Fortier, principal and vice-chancellor, McGill University
"I was nearly 30 when I moved to Canada, where I raised my family and created a successful career. I do believe my children have had the very best start in life in this wonderful country, and I am convinced I would never have had the same success if I had embarked on my journey elsewhere. Canada offers so many opportunities, and if you are willing to grab each one of them nothing will hold you back." – Interior decorator and TV host Debbie Travis
"Sometimes in life you make a decision which, at the time, you don't realize just how right it is. But 45 years after I decided to move to Canada from the United States, I'm forever grateful that I had the good sense to make my home and my future in this remarkable country. Unquestionably, it was the best decision I've ever made. This country inspires me in countless ways. Its diversity, generosity, tolerance, fairness, talent, creativity, freedom, modesty, humantarian values and sense of opportunity are the envy of the world. Regardless of where you're from, Canada makes it easy to be yourself and to advance in life. And since I first came to Canada as a young boy to attend Camp Tamakwa, the outdoors attracted me – the boundless beuaty of the land never ceases to amaze me. It's no accident that Algonquin Park was behind the creation of Roots in 1973. To this day, fellow Roots co-founder Don Green and I each spend as much time as possible swimming, canoeing and kayaking there. The aesthetics of Algonquin Park guide us in so much that we do as individuals and at Roots. For me, Canada is also hockey. I play 12 months a year. I thrive on it. I love Canada's passion for the game, both at the amateur and professional levels. So much about what goes into making a team triumphant on the ice appeals to me. I'm deeply thankful to Canada. For what it has offered my family and I. I'm grateful that I could bring up my children in a country like this." – Michael Budman, co-founder of Roots Canada
"In the 1960s, being a South African who opposed apartheid, I was somewhat adrift in the world, and after a period in England found a wonderful home in Canada. A small thing, perhaps, in the scheme of things, but for the 30 years that I lived and/or worked in Old Montreal the sight of the slanting sun on those old stone walls never failed to thrill me – Table Mountain surpasses our Montreal 'mountain' for grandeur and inspiration, but that minor beauty in the old city still haunts me. In the larger scheme of things, Canada gave me the chance to fulfill my dreams and whatever talent I possessed by supporting the creation and running of the Centaur Theatre. That, and so may generosities toward myself and my wife – both of us un-expectant immigrants, is proof of a spirit that hopefully will never leave the country. Hopefully, too, my daughter Alison, who founded and runs Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre in Montreal and is full of wondrous surprises, will be similarly blessed. – Maurice Podbrey, founding artistic director of the Centaur Theatre in Montreal, and originally a native of South Africa, where he still spends much of his time on theatre projects today.
113. My farm.
"Everything I love about Canada comes back to my home and my farm. What makes it truly Canadian is hard to describe, but I think there is so much there: the fresh water and rich soil, the great choice we have in Canada in cattle genetics that make us a world leader in breeding strong and healthy cows. And then bringing it all together into a quality standard for milk that is second to none, providing my fellow Canadians with something they can trust to give their families. – Andrew Campbell, social-media guru and dairy farmer in Southwestern Ontario
114. That we can push for things that would make us love Canada even more
I love that as Canadians we can openly choose to love and marry whoever we want.
I love that our belief in equality is not only in our Charter but deep in our DNA.
I love that health care is a right and not a privilege.
I love that we stand up for Israel even if we don't support their every decision because we recognize that it is a true and creative democracy wrestling to thrive in a brutally dangerous and complex neighbourhood.
I love that Canadian writers, musicians and creatives from all fields punch so above their weight on the world stage.
I love that we can claim as "ours" the founders of Right to Play, We Day and Free The Children – and that so many Canadians embody the spirit of giving back both at home and around the world.
I love that part of our riches include two official languages.
I love that we have the breathtakingly beautiful Trans Canada Trail – the world's longest recreational network of trails – and that in a very few years it will connect Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
I love that our brand – CANADA – is respected for all the right reasons, all over the world.
I love ( and appreciate) that I am inspired by Canadians every single day.
I would love Canada just a little bit more if...
We would get serious about climate change and do our part to protect our environment.
We would commit to making Canadian children the most literate on the planet.
We would more boldly celebrate our achievements and the things that make us so special.
For that we are.
Happy Canada Day!
– Heather Reisman, CEO Indigo
"I am a proud Canadian, proud of our history and proud of our many accomplishments both at home and abroad. It is a privilege to call Canada home.
One of the most memorable days of my life was the day two and a half years ago that I went to Rideau Hall to be invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada. I had not imagined that I would have felt such a surge of emotion for Canada when our very elegant Governor General, David Johnston, placed the ribbon and the Order around my neck and told me how proud my mother would have been, as she also had been an Officer in the Order.
My wishes for Canada on this her 147th birthday are that Canadians be encouraged to be proud of and speak proudly of their magnificent country and its heritage; that we think of ourselves as Canadians first and foremost; that we find again the courageousness of spirit so evident in our forbears; that we embrace individual responsibility and accountability; that we reject the entitlement that is so pervasive today; that we discourage dependence on the state in favour of self-reliance and an entrepreneurial spirit; and that we reject the tyranny of political correctness.
It is my wish for our great country that all Canadians demand more accountability from our political leaders; educate themselves about the challenges our country faces; and encourage the productive engines of our society in the interests of keeping our economy strong and our country more prosperous. All of us have a responsibility to enhance our proud tradition of innovativeness and courageous action.
Canada is the envy of so many. Happy Birthday Canada! May the true north strong and free be ever stronger and may its sons and daughters recommit themselves to our proud heritage of living lives of service and accomplishment, no matter what the challenges may be."
– Maureen Sabia, chairman of Canadian Tire Corp.
115. Salmon fishing in the Atlantic
"During my career at Scotiabank, I've had the opportunity to travel to almost all of the 55 countries in which we operate, but I always love coming back home. My family and I have the good fortune of spending time on the south shore of Nova Scotia, which is a beautiful area of the country. I also have a passion for salmon fishing in the rivers of Atlantic Canada, particularly Labrador. I love the vastness of Labrador. It's unique, it's beautiful, it's serene. It's spectacular." – Brian Porter, president and CEO of the Bank of Nova Scotia
116. Coming home
"I travel extensively for work and pleasure. In summer, I drop into Los Angeles and Southern California for healthy living and reviews of new hotels. In the fall, I love a dose of art fairs and culture in Europe. In winter, I need a hit of sunshine in St Barts. In springtime, I dream of cherry blossoms in New York`s Union Square.
But as much as I love leaving the daily grind, I adore returning home even more. I think about this a lot. What is it I love coming back to? Is it just a sense of returning to the nest after a period afar … or is it deeper than that? Is it just a longing to launder the contents of my suitcase or is it some maple leaf deeply lodged in my DNA?
I've concluded that I am entirely a reflection of the environment in which I live and the Canadian company I keep. In no specific order, I love: the change of seasons, our cool flag, the massive land mass we call ours, our quirky sense of nationalism (i.e. Hockey Night in Canada), our Mounties' awesome uniforms, East Coast oysters, maple syrup, skiing at Whistler, swimming in a cold lake in the Laurentians, the Toronto Raptors, the Montreal Canadiens, the neighbourliness and compassion we all share, diverse Toronto neighborhoods, our amazing indie bands, our uber talented emerging visual artists, cycling around PEI, joie de vivre in Quebec, strawberry picking in June, apple picking in September, Ontario's fresh produce all summer long, the stability of our institutions, our amazing universities and hospitals, traveling worldwide as a Canadian, the Hudson's Bay company, bloody Caesars, Montreal bagels, and all.
Yup, travelling is essential; returning home is a pure joy." – Jeff Stober, CEO of Drake Hotel Properties
117. Asked for our virtues, we can't name just one
"Since I came to Canada I've seen my first woodpecker since I was a child, we have chipmunks in the backyard and raccoons in my garbage cans ... and where else can you kiss a cod, eat a beavertail and golf and ski all in the same day? I've probably explored 0.001% of this great country so far and I can't wait to explore the rest!" – Guy Laurence, president and CEO of Rogers Communications (recently arrived from Manchester)
"I love the Rockies, I love Montreal, I love the prairies, I love the sun after seven months of winter, I love the Ponoka Stampede, I love grizzly bears, I love hockey and I love the wide open northern spaces. Especially when I'm out of the country for a while. Very proud Canuck, here." – Musician Corb Lund
"As a first-generation Canadian, I never really fully understood how special it is to have been born in Canada. Canada is the most progressive country in the world – cultivating humanity, personal rights and freedoms, health care. We are the 'new civilization' that future history books will explain as 'Utopia.' What I have learned in my travels, and in my own experience is that Canada has the 4 'As,' which every human seeks: Aspiration, Authenticity, Approachability ... and the most important, Acceptance. YAY for Canada, eh? – Fashion designer David Dixon
"I thank my lucky stars every time I come back to Canada from some other place. Fair-minded people, diverse ethnicities, large open spaces, clean water, vibrant big cities, a strong democracy with a strict rule of law, no guns, and best of all, opportunities for personal and financial advancement. No country but Canada can claim to have all of these things." – Condo developer Brad Lamb
Neil Pasricha's awesome reflections on Canada
Do you remember bank calendars?
When I was little my sister and I always waited between velvet ropes with my dad to see the bank teller while lines rounded, stamps pounded and thumbs counted bills. Sometimes we grabbed faded pink and green deposit slips – the ones printed on the thinnest paper ever – and amused ourselves drawing on them or making million-dollar withdrawals on behalf of Scrooge McDuck.
Trips to the bank were pretty boring with only three major highlights: 1) Watching someone slowly open that thick giant door to the vault with metal-prongs the size of tennis ball containers; 2) Listening to the dot matrix printer screech a few lines onto my dad's vinyl bank book; and 3) If we were really lucky, being handed a brand new calendar for next year full of beautiful scenery shots of Canada.
Yes, my sister and I would flip through those calendars in the back of the station wagon on the ride home. Our eyes popped at misty rainbows over Niagara Falls, snow-capped peaks smeared like icing over mountains, and tiny people walking on Bay of Fundy floors. We stared at evergreens standing silent behind mirrory Algonquin lakes, red and yellow leaf-covered drives on twisting Cape Breton roads, and a dim orange sun setting over a sparkling Toronto skyline. We gazed deeply at mossy boulders beside frozen lakes, a majestic Chateau Frontenac looming over Quebec City, and bright green grasses rolling over Prince Edward Island hills.
"Just remember how lucky you are," my dad used to say, while steering us back into our shady subdivision. "All those pictures are from your own country. It's the best country in the world and you get to live here!"
Dad, you were right:
1. Drink till you drop. See all those blue puddles on the map of Canada? Yeah, the last ice age ripped deep holes up here and now they're filled with the world's largest supply of fresh water. Sometimes they're not even frozen.
2. As the world turns. Our tiny planet tilts on its axis every year and since Canada is smacked on the top of Earth, those big tilts result in big seasons. There's a quiet rhythm with the seasons in Canada – with ice scrapers, wet umbrellas, chipped picnic tables, and heavy wool sweaters all making annual appearances.
3. Share the wealth. Canadians toss about half of everything they make into a big glass jar and use it to pay for health care, education and services for all. Oh sure, the system's never perfect, but if you shatter your leg in an icy parking lot, need a dozen years of free school for six kids, or want to drive on clean roads across the country, well, we got you baby, we got you.
4. Paint it black, and green, and blue. Canada has a long history of investing in culture and arts. There's afternoon storytelling on public radio, film festivals all over the place and musicians and movie-makers scoring cash from the government to make their masterpiece. People paint bikes, spray-paint alley walls, and busk on side streets, with folks always looking, finding and sharing beauty.
5. Free to be you and me. "It's a free country," my dad used to say, and he meant it, too. You can live where you want, pray to anybody you please, marry anyone you like and watch anything on TV. Plus, being one of the world's most diverse countries means you can find temples, neighbourhoods, and sports broadcasts to fit your taste.
6. Deliciously disgusting. With so many backgrounds and cultures a city in Canada might have samosas, schwarma, and ceviche on the same corner. But there are other very Canadian treats, too, like Nanaimo Bars (chocolate, coconut, icing squares), poutine (hot fries covered in gooey cheese curds and steamy gravy), butter tarts (melted brown sugar with raisins in a greasy pastry), Montreal smoked meat (salted, cured, steamed beef brisket served with mustard on rye bread), and Ketchup chips (ketchup chips).
7. Canadian animals seem polite too. No pythons, scorpions, sharks, crocs or Komodo dragons here. Just cute and cuddly arctic hares, polar bears, Canadian geese, Canadian meese and beavers. (Sidenote: Do not cuddle a beaver.)
8. This land is our land. Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia. It's big! You can drive from one side to the other in about a week if you floor it and don't mind putting almost 8,000 clicks on your car. But size helps with other things, too. If you live in a city, it's easy to get away and go camping for a day. If you pee your pants at school, it's easy to skip town and change your identity.
9. 2 Languages, 2 Distinct Cultures, 2 Legit 2 Quit. Hey, hey! The province of Quebec makes all Canadians richer with French culture smeared coast to coast. There are two official languages, so French classes broaden minds while Cirque du Soleil, French films and delicious foods keep adding to the Canadian identity.
10. It's full of Canadians. Sure, we've got lots of faults like apologizing too much and beating each other senseless in hockey. (Sorry about that.) But Canadians are some of the most peaceful, progressive and cultured people in the world, if we do say so ourselves. Shaped by waves of new folks (40 per cent of Canadians are first- or second-generation immigrants) the community is inclusive, funny and polite. Also, Canadians are extremely humble, rarely extolling their virtues in long, meandering essays published online. (Sorry about that.)
So … after my dad parked the wood-panelled wagon in the driveway, Nina and I headed inside to hang up the calendar on the yellow kitchen wall. It was hidden behind December for a month but soon we'd slowly scroll through polar bears on frozen lakes and setting suns over silos and hay bales. We gazed fondly on those pictures and dreamed of distant trips to far off places… and of course, like any country, like your home country, it's only with exploring that we really truly see all the beauty that makes our home AWESOME!
118. People around the world love us
"The best thing about being a Canadian abroad is that everyone seems to love Canada. As an English-speaker in Israel I'm often mistaken for an American, but when I declare my true nationality people inevitably reply, 'That's amazing! I love Canadians!' But the world's appreciation for Canada goes beyond mere affection. Along with countless global surveys ranking Canada as the world's most admired country, a poll conducted in 2010 found that even among the world's 24 leading economies, a majority (53 per cent) don't just admire Canada: they actually want to be Canadian.
As we celebrate Canada Day, it's worth asking: Why? Is it because we're so nice and polite? Because we enjoy the good things in life, from clean drinking water and health care to education and two-car garages? Because we value freedom and diversity, and bring light to an often dark and violent world? Or is it something simpler, like the taste of poutine or maple syrup?
I don't know the answer, but I do know this: We Canadians are the luckiest people on Earth, and we should thank whatever combination of history, providence and sacrifice conspired to grant us a great life. And while we're at it, let's work hard to deserve it. – Dov Smith, spokesperson, Hebrew University in Jerusalem
"I love that when you say you are from Canada people throughout Asia smile. We are seen as honest, humble and trustworthy people. Everyone I meet wants to visit Canada because of our people and our country, which is seen as open, clean, beautiful, diverse and refreshing. Being Canadian and everything it entails gives us an advantage as an employer, as a partner and as a provider of financial security for our clients and their families." – Kevin Strain, president, Sun Life Financial Asia
119. Stereotypes about us are usually right – and worth being proud of
"For those of us of a certain age, the most palpable Canadian memories are of sitting in front of the screen on Saturday night watching grainy TV pictures brought to life by Foster (and then, Bill) Hewitt's dramatic commentary and analyzed ad infinitum by the denizens of the Hot Stove League.
In an age of political correctness, one is admonished to avoid any stereotypes, even positive ones. But, like our love of hockey, the willingness of Canadians to tolerate differences and accommodate others is undeniable.
Indeed, if Canada had been around when John Locke wrote his Letter Concerning Toleration in 1689, he could have dispensed with abstract reasoning and just used Canada as a model. This trait has produced a society whose quality of life, measured not only in material terms, ranks at or near the top of all global comparisons.
This is a justifiable source of pride. It could also be a justifiable reason for bragging. But that would be out of character, eh?
– Mark Heller, principal research associate, Israel's Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv
120. The weather
"Most recently, I debuted my Fall/Winter 2014 collection at World MasterCard Fashion week, which is inspired by the beauty of the cold, ice and snow." – Kim Newport-Mimran, president and head designer, Pink Tartan
121. We support our athletes He's worn a national team jacket on all sorts of stages in all sorts of places, but Olympic moguls skier Alex Bilodeau has never felt more Canadian than he did on Valentine's Day in 2010.
It was day three of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Bilodeau, then 22, became the first athlete in Canadian sports history to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil.
"That moment was when I truly felt in my bones what it means to be Canadian," he said. "It was as if everyone's team had won the Stanley Cup at the same time – every day, for two weeks. The spirit of togetherness was amazing."
In the intervening years, Mr. Bilodeau, who won a second gold at the Sochi Games last winter, has crisscrossed the country for speaking engagements, which has sparked one key observation on his part.
"We're an extremely hospitable country. Everywhere you go, there's genuine warmth," he said. "The richness of this country is: We have absolutely everything, there's an amazing diversity …and I think people understand and embrace that."
– Race-car driver James Hinchcliffe, a 27-year-old from Oakville, Ont., spends the bulk of his downtime in Indianapolis, where his Andretti Autosport team is based. But his country is never far from his thoughts. "As a Canadian athlete, the support from the country is incredible. The people really motivate you to compete and win for them," he says. "I love what our country stands for."
– "There is something unique about competing with the maple leaf on our back; it feels like we have a special indescribable X factor that isn't comparable to any other country," says Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan. "Perhaps part of that is because there aren't as many of us, so Canadians are really well-received when we compete on the world stage. But what I really love about Canada is knowing that when I do compete, I have the whole country behind me. And for me and all the other athletes, in that moment, no matter how you finish, you're No. 1 in the world with all of Canada cheering you on.
– "For many years, Canadians were not focused on investing in Olympic athletes. But when Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Olympic Games, a group of interested Canadians came together to invest and campaign for Canadian athletes to own the podium. There was a lot of criticism at the time that it was a wasteful investment. Then, Alex Bilodeau won his gold medal in moguls freestyle skiing at the 2010 Games – the first ever Canadian to win gold on home soil. That moment changed how Canada looked at its Olympic athletes. That moment lit up a nation. And every gold, silver and bronze since then has added to our collective enthusiasm." – Richard Baker, governor and CEO of Hudson's Bay Company
122. Because we can laud the best among us, even in shorthand
"I love Canada because of the boys at Ypres, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, and Juno Beach. I guess I will always love it for that. Of course number 4, number 99, number 66, and number 87, as well. And our women's national Olympic team. After that nothing needs to be said." – Novelist David Adams Richards (and those jerseys would be for Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby)
123. Lots of places to chill
"Just about everyone in Canada is close to a spot where they can sit and chill. And just about everyone does it. I've included a shot of me, reading and having a beer by the fire at Monck Provincial Park in British Columbia. It's located about 15 kilometres east of Merrit." – Reader Peter Taylor, Vancouver
124. Frederick Banting "Canada is the birthplace of insulin, and without it, I wouldn't be alive, nor would millions of people around the world!" – Reader Jay Gilbert, Toronto
125. Newfoundland Icebergs in June
"A lot of the locals will tell you that it's only the tourists that love the icebergs, because of the June cold that comes along with them, but I never get tired of them and am awestruck by their magnificence. This photo was taken from Signal Hill in St. John's." – Reader Maureen Bennett, St. John's
126. Wallace, N.S.
"As a child, I never knew what a community was. By 1948 I had moved at least nine or 10 times. But that year, we moved to Wallace, N.S., a fishing village with a quarry. Compared to other places, the people in Wallace were not materially well off. Forget nice clothes, almost any cars, variety in food. But they were very kind, and cared for each other. Friends whose dads were on welfare – many of the kids' fathers had seasonal jobs at best – went to university. Why? Because the community worked together to make sure they got a chance. That is only one example.
Many years after I lived there, I was asked what got me interested in community work, some national survey. I described that fishing village. The interviewer did not ask me where it was. Instead, he just said, "When did you live in Wallace?" Many others had told him about it." – Mary Lazier-Corbett, Picton, Ont.
127. Don Cherry
"Whether you agree with him or not is not the issue. Canadians need to have a voice to make sure we distance ourselves from our neighbours to the south. He points out over and over that we all love hockey – the arenas, the parents who take us there – and how our lessons at the rink make us better people. Nobody shows us more often that we should celebrate this. Every time I watch him he reminds me to be patriotic." – Reader Jake Stewart, Paris, Ont.
128. Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon
"This photo shows the Slim's River West trail en route to Observation Mountain at Kluane National Park and Reserve. A visit here provides a staggering illustration of the untouched vastness of Canada. In a land governed by grizzly bears and mountain goats, a turn of the head in any direction points to hundreds of kilometres of pristine nature without a human soul in sight. From lush valleys, to lumbering ice fields, to Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak, even the least spiritual can't escape the power of the land." – Reader Greg Kennedy, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
129. Terry Fox
"We've come a long way with treatment and cures for different forms of cancer, but when Terry Fox started his run it was a different story. Hope wasn't an automatic response. But this kid that's lost a leg and has other serious health problems comes up with a scheme to raise money and awareness for cancer by running across the country. Today we're inundated with runs, climbs, cycling, etc. for all sorts of causes. He influenced that. Because of his selfless, courageous act the Terry Fox foundation has raised over $600-million and the run takes place worldwide." – Reader Michelle Boles, Toronto
130. The Lake O'Hara of the Rocky Mountains
"Access to the pristine hiking trails here is strictly monitored on a quota system to protect the area, but each year for a brief period about 100 people a day are granted access to all of the rich beauty of, say, Lake Louise or Moraine Lake – without the crowds.
O'Hara has less development and more gorgeous, raw solitude than most tourist areas nearby. There is no asphalt here. And being here isn't a spectator sport. O'Hara is a living, thriving place that you must interact with. You must move here.
And you won't be the same person again after walking among aquamarine glaciated lakes, lofty snow-capped peaks and verdant, rainforest-lush forests. Go to Lake O'Hara and see for yourself. It's truly amazing. Truly Canadian." – Reader Christopher Lailey, St. Catharines, Ont.
131. Canoing the Toronto Islands
"I have been paddling in and around the Toronto Islands for 15 years, and they never fail to impress. Some reasons include: the stunning contrast of solitude, gliding through forest-lined canals – then catching views of a megalopolis pulsing with five million souls only one kilometre away; catching a pike or watching fuzzy ducklings up close with three city kids on their first-ever canoe ride; paddling up to Hanlan's Point Beach on a scorching day, stripping off all your clothes, and diving into the cool water (wishing you had discovered nude bathing before you were 40); hearing languages from all over the world spoken at giant family picnics that only new Canadians know how to stage any more." – Reader Geoff Lumby, Toronto
132. Clara Hughes
"When things get tough on the bike, I think: "WWCD" (What Would Clara Do)? A winner of multiple medals in both the winter and summer Olympics, an amazing motivational speaker, a fantastic sports commentator for the CBC – and she's been riding across Canada to raise awareness for mental health. She is truly inspirational to me as a person and an athlete." – Reader Michelle Daniels, Vancouver
133. Butter tarts
"Canadians take these sweet treats so seriously that whole towns have been pitted against one another claiming the title of Butter Tart Capital or being a part of the Butter Tart Trail.
Debate is just as intense among purists and innovators: Runny or firm? Flaky crust or dense? Plain? With raisins? With pecans? Or more recent and exotic incarnations such as coconut, mint or peanut butter?
No matter. Sweet-toothed Canadians just love to gobble up this mainstay of Canadian cuisine." – Reader Grant Gingrich, Waterloo, Ont.
134. My mom
"Why, you ask, would I put my mom on a list of the top 147 reasons to love Canada? Because my mom represents everyone's mother. My mom is like so many moms who worked hard to raise her family here.
Alice Mitchell of Paris, Ont., is 92. She raised nine children on her own and supported countless others who needed a home for a few days or for few years.
She sponsored foreign exchange students from Asia, because she wanted to expose them to this country (many keep in touch on a regular basis). She opened our home to politicians because she believed in democracy; she also used our house as the local polling booth. She was a tireless volunteer who actively supported Meals on Wheels and cancer drives. (If you live in a small town, you know that cancer patients need treatment in bigger centres.)
She also supported her family with three jobs. But when minimum-wage jobs became too taxing, she returned to higher education, at the age of 42.
She told her six daughters: 'You do not need to get married to be successful, but you need an education to be independent. So become independent, and get married if you are in love.' She told her sons to do the same thing – but that if they married, they were to treat their wives with total respect.
In my mind, her story is worth telling not for the goals she scored (she still cannot skate) but because her life represents what Canada is about: freedom, equality, access to a better life if you are willing to work hard for it." – Reader Jim Mitchell, Unionville, Ont.
135. Our volunteer firefighters
"There are about 85,000 volunteer firefighters in Canada. The volunteer fire department is the only thing most small Canadian rural communities have in the event of an emergency – whether it be a house fire or a motor-vehicle accident. These men and women tirelessly dedicate themselves to the service of their communities. Among them is my best friend MacGregor Grant, pictured here, a volunteer firefighter in Sackville, N.B. He went to Texas to attend a firefighting course, which he paid for out of his own pocket." – Reader Trevor Donald, Sackville, N.B.
134. West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island
"The photos are from my first experience of the West Coast Trail in August, 2006. I've hiked it twice, the first time with good friends, the second time with my wife. Unparalleled scenery, incredible challenges." – Reader Tavis Newman, Lethbridge, Alta.
135. Old Quebec
"As a touring musician I have seen a lot of this country. Often I will find myself in speechless, breathless awe. But I will never forget the feeling I had when I first laid eyes on Quebec City. We rounded a corner and were instantly transported back to the 17th century. It's like living history. A real jewel among the seemingly endless green and grey of the boreal forests and Canadian shield that surround this romantic paradise." – Reader Maty Ralph, Sudbury, Ont.
"If we were having a whole bunch of people over, we could make wild salmon. One of my favourite ways is doing a very quick cure on it of a little bit of kosher salt and brown sugar for 10 or 15 minutes. Then bake that very low, at about 100 C. You cook that for about half an hour. It doesn't lose any moisture and breaks away beautifully. I like to serve a sauce that's got washed shallots, Tabasco, Worcestershire, olive oil, chives, chervil, tarragon, parsley; and the secret ingredient is a good spoonful of ketchup." – Vancouver Chef David Hawskworth
"I live near Lumby, the farthest east that Pacific salmon migrate home to lay their eggs. They are a keystone species – feeding people and animals, contributing to stream health, and bringing the nutrients of the ocean to interior land. Salmon also have amazing skills, and like early explorers manage to find their way no matter the distance or obstacle. They are our 'canaries in the coal mine,' too: Their health and numbers warn us about the health of our water and land. To many First Peoples, salmon are sacred and symbolize determination, work and the role of fathers. We should honour salmon as we are truly blessed to have them swim by our side." – Reader Emily Mayne, Coldstream, B.C.
137. Senator Jacques Hébert, co-founder of Katimavik
"Katimavik, from the Inuit word 'meeting place,' was co-founded by the late Senator Jaques Hébert in the 1970s.
In the early years, young Canadians travelled abroad to work in countries in need – a value that strikes at the heart of Canadian giving – and, in the process, they learned how great our country really is. With funding cuts, international work was no longer possible, but Katimavik still sends over 1,000 young people to work in communities across Canada.
Even that was at risk in 1986 when the government attempted to shut it down. But Sen. Hébert went on a hunger strike; his protest was successful, and 37 years later the Katimavik program remains a beacon of learning in citizenship." – Reader Gregory Saville, Port Townsend, Wash.
138. The Millarville Races, outside of Calgary
"To me, Canada Day isn't really Canada Day without the Millarville Races – which have been taking place for over 100 years. I've been attending since I was a little kid. The neighbours used to go early and back their truck up to the finish line so we could sit in the back to have the best view. We'd bet dimes amongst ourselves on our favourite horses. Plus, there were always fresh pies made by a local church's auxiliary. (Mmmmm, peach pie.)" – Reader Sandy Hunter, Calgary
139. Blackcomb glacier
" A midseason day on Whistler's Blackcomb glacier with fresh snow underfoot and blue skies and sunshine above. Unbeatable!" – Reader John MacLeod, Toronto
140. Our banks
"Canada's banking system is steady, reliable and can be kind of boring – and it's exactly what I love about this country. Because, really, it's one of the things Canadians do well: run banks. Big ones and little ones and, increasingly, innovatively boring ones." – Dave Mowat, Edmonton
141. The Post Hotel in Lake Louise
"The Post Hotel opened the year I was born. We had many ski-trip vacations in the old Pipestone Lodge (the cottages situated along the Pipestone Creek are pure Canadiana). Views of the Lake Louise ski area bring back memories of watching 'torch skiers' bringing in the New Year. We would also eat lunch on the lawn and watch hikers and the CNR freight train go, reinforcing how this spot fits into Canada's history. Whenever we pass through this little area of God's country, we always stop in for at least a meal." – Reader Ross Chevalier, Chilliwack, B.C.
142. Wild leeks
"I'm especially fond of wild leeks, also known as ramps, which can be found in the Canadian woods during spring. What I love is the juxtaposition of their modest, unassuming appearance with their rather amazing inner qualities. So Canadian! They don't look like much: just clumps of leaves of a particular oblong shape, pointed at the tip, broad at the waist, tapering to a narrow stalk. They are green. They are well-shaped to take in hand. Not very interesting so far. But …
Bring them to the kitchen, and the excitement begins! These greens are sweet, spicy and garlicky, with nasal tones of forest. The bulbs are more delicate on the palate but also have a certain earthy undertone. I recommend them fried briefly with butter, still firm, used in an omelette with just a tiny quantity of salt. The leaves are sharp on the tongue, even pungent, and a bit heady in aroma once chopped. Harvest great big bags in order to blend the leaves with olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan for the best pesto on earth.
Tips: Having tried various harvesting techniques, such as twisting to one side, a little rotation, pinching, I have discovered that the best thing is just to pull ramps directly out. Yes, straight out, in line with the stalk. If it does not give itself into your hand with a moderate, gentle pull, leave it there to grow in peace." – Vincent Lam, doctor and author of The Headmaster's Wager and Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
143. My dad's steak with red-wine butter and portobello mushrooms
"When I think of Canada Day, I think of grilling in the backyard with my dad every year, while family and friends gather round. I still enjoy carrying on the tradition and look forward to making new memories with friends, old and new. Happy Birthday, Canada." – Chef Lynn Crawford
DAD'S STEAK WITH RED-WINE BUTTER AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
Red Wine Butter
Makes about ½ cup
- 1 stick (½ cup) room temperature unsalted butter
- ¼ red wine
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
Instructions: Cream butter with wine and shallots until smooth, then stir in parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Dad's Steak Marinade
Makes about 1⅓ cups
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
Instructions: Stir all ingredients together, pour into an airtight container, refrigerate, and use within 2 weeks.
Marinated Steak and Mushrooms
- 4 New York steaks (about 6 oz. each)
- 1 recipe of Dad’s Marinade
- 4 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
- Salt and pepper
Lay steaks in a single layer in a shallow dish, spoon over half of the marinade to cover both sides, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place mushrooms in a bowl and toss with remaining marinade. Set aside.
Remove steaks from marinade, and barbecue over medium heat for 4 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness, then transfer to a plate, tent with foil, and set aside.
Remove mushrooms from marinade and barbecue on medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
Serve steak and mushrooms with a dollop of red-wine butter on top.
143. Le Cagibi café in Montreal
"I like to drink coffee at the Cagibi café, which is on the corner of St. Laurent and St. Viateur. It used to be a pharmacy, and you can still see the old prescription cabinets along the walls, but instead of pill bottles the shelves are now filled with plastic lions and bottles with sprigs of plants in them and 1960s oil paintings of ballerinas. The chairs and tables are all mix-and-match and there is a patterned tin ceiling with chipping paint. I like how Montreal wears its history on its sleeve, and how the ghosts of previous lives have left their fingerprints and poetry all over everything. The mice in the wall are probably reading the scratchings of a mouse named Jean Baptiste who lived in their very hole 80 years before." – Heather O'Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.
144. Egg cartons
Invented in 1911 in Smithers, B.C., by Joseph Coyle. Replaced costly, impractical earlier practice of putting tiny hemlets on eggs.
12 eggs = 12 provinces and territories … oh right … NUNAVUT. Well, maybe it was an early indicator of our protective peace-keeping leanings? Our fussiness about unsmashed food? Anyhow, good job Canada!"
– Graham Roumieu
145. Kodiak construction books
"In Grade 8 it was considered the height of fashion to wear Kodiak construction boots, unlaced, with their tongues hanging out like the head-banging rockers my friends and I so admired. The trick was to perfect a laissez-faire walk that allowed you to scuff your way forward without the laces getting tangled. This was not easy, especially in winter when the ground was ice-patched and often treacherous. The boots are steel-toed and sturdily constructed, practical, anti-fashion even. Still, as a footwear trend, I miss them. They made me feel grounded, not to be messed with. Boys and girls wore them with equal ease. They are working-class and outdoorsy. They're named after a bear. They also make me feel nostalgic for a different Canada, I think – a Canada that values hard work and decency and won't let someone bigger or richer step on its toes."
– Heather Birrell, author of Mad Hope
146. Shawville, Que.
For Bryan Murray, general manager of the NHL's Ottawa Senators, thinking of Canada brings him back to his hometown, the close-knit village of Shawville, Que. "If you're from there, you're proud of the fact that you're from there," he says.
The small, mostly English-speaking community of 1,664 about an hour's drive west of Ottawa-Gatineau is where Mr. Murray and his nine brothers and sisters grew up. It is also where he likes to end up at the end of the day each July 1.
For a National Hockey League general manager, Canada Day is one of the busiest days of the year. Millions of dollars change hands as part of the "free-agent frenzy" that sees marquee players sign massive new deals, often with new teams. Trades are made that put GMs under the microscope, scrutinized on sports radio by second-guessing fans.
After a day of working the phones with staff at the Canadian Tire Centre, where the Senators play, Mr. Murray heads to his cottage near Shawville, and then into town.
"There's always a family member that has a get-together – of the family mainly, and friends – to have a beer and some food," he says. The evening usually ends at the Shawville fair grounds in the heart of the village. "We go over and they actually do a real nice fireworks display," he says. "Lots of people from the community gather there."
147. Waving to the band on July 1
"I love Canada Day itself. I live in Nova Scotia in the summer, and I try to arrive on July 1 so that the bands play for me as I drive from the ferry to my village. I've perfected what I think is a pretty good imitation of Prince Phlip's wave." – Calvin Trillin, Nova Scotia resident and New Yorker contributor
This material has been edited and condensed