Fun facts and fig­ures about di­nosaurs and deserts, her­itage cities and beau­ti­ful beaches

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Canada & Alaska -

QUE­BEC City, known for its ro­man­tic ar­chi­tec­ture, cob­ble­stoned streets, beau­ti­ful parks (some for­mer es­tates), for­mal gar­dens and rich his­tory, turns 400 in 2008.

Canada’s most beau­ti­ful beach isn’t on the west coast. It’s Grand Beach in Man­i­toba, widely recog­nised as one of North Amer­ica’s 10 best beaches.

Canada is the sec­ond-largest coun­try in the world (af­ter Rus­sia). The to­tal area, in­clud­ing land and fresh­wa­ter, is al­most 10 mil­lion sq km.

Lit­tle Man­i­tou Lake in Saskatchewan is salt­wa­ter and has a den­sity greater than the Dead Sea. It’s not only easy to float in it, it’s im­pos­si­ble to sink.

Canada is the largest pro­ducer of icewine in the world. The grapes are left on the vines un­til the first frost, then picked within hours.

Whistler Black­comb in Bri­tish Columbia has the long­est ski sea­son in North Amer­ica, from Novem­ber to June 3. It also boasts the largest ski­able ter­rain in North Amer­ica at 3307ha.

Spirit Is­land on Maligne Lake in Jasper Na­tional Park is said to be the most pho­tographed is­land in Canada.

Canada has a desert: Bri­tish Columbia’s Okana­gan Val­ley ex­tends right through the US and into Mex­ico’s Sono­ran Desert. It is home to more than 100 species of rare plants and 300 types of rare in­ver­te­brates.

Cap­tain James Cook sailed along the coast in 1778 and was the first known Cau­casian to set foot in to­day’s Bri­tish Columbia. Cap­tain Van­cou­ver, in 1792, first charted the coast in de­tail.

Mon­treal hosted the Olympic Games in 1976; Cal­gary hosted the Win­ter Olympics in 1988. Van­cou­ver will be the venue for the Win­ter Olympics in 2010: Fe­bru­ary 12-28 (Par­a­lympic Games, March 12-21).

Ottawa’s UNESCO-listed Rideau Canal is the world’s largest skat­ing rink. It’s a 202km-long water­way that links Lake On­tario at Kingston with the Ottawa River.

Nearly 3.6 mil­lion litres of wa­ter pours over the 57m drop of Ni­a­gara’s Horse­shoe Falls ev­ery sec­ond.

Di­nosaur Pro­vin­cial Park — lo­cated at the heart of the prov­ince of Al­berta’s bad­lands — con­tains some of the most im­por­tant fos­sil dis­cov­er­ies ever made, in­clud­ing about 35 species of di­nosaur, dat­ing back 75 mil­lion years.

In 1932, Water­ton Lakes Na­tional Park (Al­berta, Canada) was com­bined with the Glacier Na­tional Park (Mon­tana, US) to form the world’s first In­ter­na­tional Peace Park. Sit­u­ated on the border be­tween the two coun­tries and of­fer­ing out­stand­ing scenery, the park is ex­cep­tion­ally rich in plant and mam­mal species as well as prairie, for­est, alpine and glacial fea­tures.

The town of Lunen­burg in Nova Sco­tia is the best sur­viv­ing ex­am­ple of a planned Bri­tish colo­nial set­tle­ment in North Amer­ica. Es­tab­lished in 1753, and now listed by UNESCO, it has re­tained its orig­i­nal lay­out and over­all ap­pear­ance, based on a rec­tan­gu­lar grid pat­tern. The in­hab­i­tants have man­aged to safe­guard the city’s orig­i­nal iden­tity by pre­serv­ing the wooden ar­chi­tec­ture of the houses, some of which date from the 18th cen­tury.

There have been 17 No­bel Prize lau­re­ates from Canada, most re­cently eco­nomics pro­fes­sor Robert Mun­dell who won the No­bel Prize in Eco­nomics in 1999.

E. An­nie Proulx’s TheShip­pingNews, set in New­found­land, won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Cana­dian nov­el­ist Mar­garet Atwood has won a bevy of in­ter­na­tional writ­ing awards in­clud­ing the 2000 Booker Prize for The Blind As­sas­sin. Source: Cana­dian Tourism Com­mis­sion;

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