English Language Blog

Canada a country of maple syrup and hockey: An intro in English for ESL students Posted by on Oct 2, 2014 in Culture

canadian flag

Image “Canadian Flag” by ankakay on Flickr.com.

I’m going to begin a short series on this Transparent Language blog about Canada, the country American’s fondly refer to as “our neighbor to the north.” Part of what is spurring this series is Canada’s upcoming Thanksgiving holiday (on November 13th this year), but I will write more on that topic in a future post. Today, let me start out with an overview and some history about Canada, the largest (by land and water size) English speaking country in the world.

To begin let’s start with the Canadian national anthem, which starts like this:

“O Canada! Our home and native land!”

Canada is in fact the native land of many indigenous people. In Canada indigenous people are most commonly called “First Nation(s) people,” not “Indians” or “Native American” (which are terms used commonly in the United States). When most people think about the First Nation people of Canada they often think of a stereotyped Eskimo, but there are over 600 different First Nation groups in Canada and they are all quite diverse. Although once the entire country of Canada was populated by First Nation tribes, today Canada’s population consists of only 4% First Nations peoples (76% of Canadians are European, 14% are Asian).

First Nation tribes inhabited Canada for thousands of years before British and French colonists began arriving in the late 1400. Europeans first arrived in the eastern areas of the country, but quickly moved west exploring the many waterways in Canada and looking for animals, wood, and minerals to use and trade.

For many years there were land disputes between the current United States and Canada about where one country began and the other ended, but in 1867 three Canadian provinces joined together to begin to form the current Canada and to set down more firm borderlines with the United States. For many more years though Canada held close ties to Great Britain and its English colonists. It was not until 1982 that Canada cut all its legal ties with the British parliament (the governmental ruling body of England).

To this day Canada maintains strong ties with England. Although Canada’s government is a federal democracy with its own independent parliament, it is also a considered a constitutional monarchy. The Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, is Canada’s queen. Many people do not know about Canada’s strong continued ties to Great Britain, but it quite clear that the queen of England is Canada’s queen as well when you visit Canada. Her picture is found in government buildings and on Canadian money.

Canada is a very large country, and also quite cold because of its geographic location. The country is 3.8 million square miles (9.9 million square kilometers) of land. It is the second largest country in the world! Not all of Canada is cold, but many parts of the country reach into the Arctic Ocean and most cities across the country have snow at some point in the winter. Canada is made up of ten “provinces,” which include: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan; there are also three “territories” in Canada, including: Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. There are no “states” in Canada. The largest city in Canada is Toronto, with 4.3 million people. Toronto is located in the province of Ontario. The total population of Canada is around 31 million, with the majority of people living in the southern area of the country. In fact, 90% of Canadians live within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of the U.S.A border.

As I mentioned in the beginning Canada is an English speaking country in the world, but French is also one of its two official languages. All government agencies in Canada are required to use both English and French, but is should be noted that English is the more widely spoken of these two languages in Canada, by far. There are many ongoing conflicts between English-speaking Canadians and French-speaking Canadians. The majority of the French-speaking Canadians live in the province of Quebec, and the people of Quebec have tried many times to break away from Canada to form their own country.

The economy of Canada is much like similar developed countries, including manufacturing, agriculture and tourism (Canada is in the top 10 most visited counties by tourists in the world). Canada is unique among most other developed countries though, because it is a net exporter of energy. That means it creates more energy than it uses. Much of the current petroleum energy coming from Canada is coming from the “tar sands” in the northern part of the country.

A few last notes on this country, I would be in trouble if I wrote a post about Canada and did not mention “hockey.” Canadians love the sport of ice hockey and they tend to be very successful at winning international ice hockey competitions too. Canada has won a total of eight gold medals at the Winter Olympics in Ice Hockey. Lacrosse is also another very popular sport in Canada (you can read more about this sport in a previous post I wrote by clicking here).

Canada is also well known for its maple syrup, a sweet liquid that is made from the sap of maple trees. Maple syrup is often made into candies or used as a sweetener on foods. The maple tree is so important in Canada that it is found at the center of the Canadian flag (shown above).

Stay tuned for more information on Canada in my next few posts.

Information for this post was gathered from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada

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About the Author: Gabriele

Hi there! I am one of Transparent Language's ESL bloggers. I am a 32-year-old native English speaker who was born and raised in the United States. I am living in Washington, DC now, but I have lived all over the US and also spent many years living and working abroad. I started teaching English as a second language in 2005 after completing a Master's in Applied Linguists and a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults' (CELTA). Since that time I have taught ESL in the United States at the community college and university level. I have also gone on to pursue my doctorate in psychology and now I also teach courses in psychology. I like to stay connected to ESL learners around the world through Transparent Languages ESL Blog. Please ask questions and leave comments on the blog and I will be sure to answer them.