This Canada Day, we are asking readers what they think makes Canada extraordinary. We're not looking for the Rockies, hockey, the beaver and other well-established Canadian icons (as great as they may be). We're looking for those people, places and things that deserve their time in the spotlight (even if other Canadians don't know it yet). Make your nominations in the comments.
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THING: The Fraser River White Sturgeon have survived two ice ages – a truly Canadian thing to do! They attain lengths over 6 meters, weigh over 600 kilograms and can live to be 150 years old. These living dinosaurs are the largest and longest species of freshwater fish in North America, and a Canadian icon.
Mary-Sue Atkinson, North Vancouver
Tagging a sturgeon with the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society
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PLACE: In spite of growing environmental concerns about water quality, Lake Winnipeg remains an extraordinary gem of a place. Teeming with fish and wildlife, this Prairie ocean offers one of the best sailing experiences in Canada. Summer homes are affordable for most families and above all else there is space. Here, in beautiful Gimli, Man., beach parking is free. And just to the north, the wilderness waits. We are blessed to be able to live here.
Andy Blicq, Gimli, Man.
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THING: Kawartha Dairy is the best ice cream, enjoyed in a region that is beautiful and is a symbol of summer memories for thousands of locals and tourists alike.
Martha Ellis, Coral Springs, Fla.
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PEOPLE: My daughters Julia (left) and Emma Mogus, two teenagers from the town of Oakville, Ont., have sent 21,000 books to First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. Julia, 15, and Emma, 14, founded an organization called Books With No Bounds after learning the Aboriginal summer book drive was cancelled several years ago. After purchasing several hundred books with their own money, the girls decided to take on the initiative started by our former Lieutenant-Governor James Bartlemen. Julia and Emma continue to improve literacy to children and teens who have little access to good books.
Janet Mogus, Oakville, Ont.
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PLACE: The Liard River Hot Springs are in a remote corner of northern B.C. The campground has minimal services but is a stopping point for tens of thousands of Alaska Highway travellers each year. The hot springs can reach temperatures of 52 C and can be enjoyed year round. They are lush and spectacularly beautiful. For the best experience, plan to stay at least two nights. And be sure to ask your fellow soakers what has brought them to this special place.
Richard Provan, Whitehorse
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THING: Fly fishing. We’ve got thousands of rivers teeming with wild salmon, steelhead, and trout on all three coasts along with millions of freshwater lakes boasting pike, musky, bass, and walleye. The evolution of the sport is marked by distinctively Canadian contributions to technique and style such as ‘catch and release’ practices now being adopted overseas. If hockey is Canada’s national winter sport, then fly fishing is Canada’s national summer sport.
Alex Wilner, Toronto
John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail
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PLACE: Ontario’s Prince Edward County is the ultimate example of what makes Canada extraordinary. It is the most beautiful place, with humble, hard-working people. Tourists are flocking to this area because of the small-town beauty and charm, and everything it has to offer. Not only are there wineries, but it is also a culinary destination. We have the most beautiful beaches and campgrounds, including the famous Sandbanks Provincial Park. Cyclists love this area for the open country roads and the beautiful scenery. It is a great place to raise a family and visit year-round.
Resi Walt, Consecon, Prince Edward County
Charla Jones/The Globe and Mail
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PERSON: Barb Stegemann has created a new kind of peace movement through 7 Virtues Beauty, a company that began by sourcing essential oils distilled from legal crops to provide an alternative to the illegal poppy crop for farmers in Afghanistan. She made the dragons cry during her pitch on Dragons’ Den, and even though she was born with a hearing impairment and raised on welfare, she has built a successful company that empowers others in Haiti, Afghanistan and the Middle East. She makes caring cool.
Mike Velemirovich, Halifax
Sandor Fizli/The Globe and Mail
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THING: Our eh-ness! It's ubiquitous and a definitive cultural mannerism.
Jon Husband, Montreal
Pawel Dwulit/The Canadian Press
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THING: Montreal's bagels. Because few foods reflect Canada better: Montreal's authentic bagels embody culinary art, appreciation of good food, immigrant spirit, ease of access and humbleness. No surprise they've been selling... well... like hot bagels for more than 50 years.
Olena Bykova, Toronto
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PERSON: Craig Stappler is a solo mountain biker, attempting to set the Tour Divide record from Banff to New Mexico. He rides 300km a day, through the mountains with his gear, faster than anyone, unsupported. Remember how we were pioneers once before we softened into the city life? Craig is a kind soul, and an ambassador of cycling and humanity in general.
Erik Bakke, Calgary
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PLACE: The Cape Forchu Lightstation in Yarmouth, N.S. It's a place of incredible natural beauty. Quiet, perfect scenery and beside the ocean - you can't get any better than that! Lighthouses are an important part of our history and they are in danger of fast disappearing if they are not preserved.
Kevin Doucette, Nepean, Ont.
Bruce Bishop Communications Ltd.
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PLACE: Magdalen Islands (Îles de la Madeleine) It's Canada's version of Caribbean beaches, without the palm trees. Sandy Hook beach and East Point beach are only two of the bright sand beaches that could be in the top in the world. This place craves to be noticed by more Canadians.
Luc Lang, Quebec City
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PLACE: Saanich, B.C. Beautiful beaches, amazing agriculture, one of the oldest country fairs in Canada, some of the best restaurants in the world. And not your typical Canadian weather: Little (if any) snow in the winter, no stifling humid heat in the summer. People golf, fish, sail all year round.
Beth Camp, Saanich, B.C.
Courtesy of Mike Laing
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PEOPLE: Matthew Stotland and Casey Cohen of Yellow Bird Project. A non-profit that has its roots in Montreal and strives to involve youth in charitable organizations, by combining the creativeness of music and artists with a range of different causes. The company has so many talented youth dedicating and donating their time and skills to the project - so inspirational. What's more Canadian than giving back?
Sarah Shapirio, Montreal
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PLACE: The North Channel of Lake Huron. Probably the greatest fresh water cruising area in the world. Spectacular scenery amid white quartzite and pink granite rock, sheltered anchorages and crystal clear water. Wildlife including black bears, moose, deer, otters, mink, loons and birds of prey. Lovely small towns, friendly natives.
David Bannister, Grand Bend, Ont.
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PLACE: Wreck Beach: One of the most beautiful beaches in Canada where you can find thousands of happy people on a beautiful sunny day! It is special, wild, free and so close to the city.
Tom Sloan, Vancouver
Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press
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PLACE: Antigonish, N.S., in July - specifically a slice from The Wheel Pizza after the Highland Games - the longest running highland games outside of Scotland. It's an amazing place that embodies the kind spirit of the East Coast - plus Nova Scotian pizza has never gotten the credit it deserves.
Jim Black, Toronto
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PLACE: La Citadelle, Quebec. It has long been a residence for our Governors-General and for nearly a century has been the spiritual home of the Royal 22e Regiment - the storied Van Doos, one of Canada's greatest-ever fighting units. Today the Quebec Citadel is an icon of Canadian history.
Chris Alexander, Ajax
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PLACE: Canada has a tremendous collection of decommissioned military bases. One of these – Kingston's Fort Henry – is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fort Henry is a wonderful living museum maintaining a link to our colonial past, and a first rate tourist attraction.
Dave Hansford, Kingston
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PLACE: Nicholsons Locks in Andrewsville, Ont. It's part of the Rideau Canal and is just beautiful - you can picnic there, fish there or just stretch out in the sun and watch the boats go through the locks. It's very peaceful and a part of history.
Christine Stowar, Kemptville, Ont.
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PERSON: Artist Timothy Wilson Hoey captures Canada's aspirations and foibles, humour, humility and uniqueness in his O-Canada Portage series. Not your typical art show, for Hoey they include a street hockey game and pop-shop soda.
Timothy Wilson Hoey
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PLACE: Stratford, Ont., cherishes the sacredness of community and quality of life in Canada and has become the model for all other communities in Canada to follow. The arts are celebrated and it has repeatedly made the list of top intelligent communities in the world.
Chantelle Oliver, Stratford, Ont.