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Oh Canada! – who knew?

Time to brush up on quirky facts about our country

Monday is Canada Day, a long weekend of celebration to look forward to as you pull out the red and white gear, and map out events you hope to get to from the myriad offerings throughout the city.

It’s a weekend to celebrate everything Canadian with pride, passion and a pancake breakfast. But as much as we love our country and the opportunity to celebrate with our like-minded neighbours, it turns out many of us could do to brush up on our Canadian trivia.

A new poll conducted by Historica Canada revealed that, shockingly, most Canadians were stumped when they tried to answer a 30-question quiz testing their knowledge of quirky Canadian facts.

If you didn’t know Canada has a national horse, appropriately named the Canadian Horse, you are not alone, with just 19 per cent of Canadians able to confidently answer, “Yes, of course, we do indeed have a national horse.”

For future reference, according to Horse Canada magazine, King Louis XIV of France introduced the Canadian horse to our country when he shipped 14 of his own horses to New France in 1665. The breeds were likely a mix that included Andalusian, Arab and Spanish Barb. They evolved into a sturdy, medium-sized, predominantly black-coloured animal that earned the nickname ‘little iron horse’ for its hardiness. The breed was officially recognized by Parliament as the national horse of Canada in 2002. Whew, toss out that bit of info at your Canada Day party.

Historica Canada’s poll was released on Thursday. The online survey of more than 1,000 respondents, conducted by Ipsos between June 11 and 14, posed questions that fell into five categories: geography, science and innovation, animals, culture, and sports. The poll presented 30 quirky stories about our country and asked respondents if they could identify fact from fiction. Sixty-seven per cent failed the quiz, with the average Canadian getting 12.3 out of 30 questions right. Just three per cent of Canadians got 24 to 30 answers correct.

“Make no mistake: these are tough questions,” Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada, said in a news release. “This just shows that there are always more compelling Canadian stories to learn – and in many cases truth really is stranger than fiction.”

Many Canadians found the false statements in the poll challenging. Nearly half (48 per cent) believed Canada is one of just three countries worldwide where the northern lights can be seen.

However, Canadians know their bears, with 68 per cent correctly responding that Winnie the Pooh is based on a real bear from Ontario. Sadly for beavers, only 29 per cent knew that the world’s largest beaver dam, stretching an amazing 850 metres in length, is located in Alberta and can be seen from space. 

Clearly, if you are like most Canadians, you have an excellent chance of impressing friends, family, even strangers, by just brushing up on some little-known facts about our nation. In between flipping pancakes, proudly share your newfound knowledge of the Canadian Horse. During the fireworks, tell the true tale of a massive beaver dam visible from space. And here’s another one, for use anytime there’s a lull: the world’s first million-dollar coin was produced in 2007 by the Royal Canadian Mint.

You’re welcome.

Happy Canada Day.

Editorials are the consensus view of the St. Albert Gazette’s editorial board.