Definition and Name
a country in northern North America bordering the United States and surrounded by the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic oceans.
The name “Canada” is said to be derived from the Huron-Iroquois word Kanata, meaning village or settlement. According to traditional lore, the name grew in popularity with Europeans during the early colonial period due to a misunderstanding by French explorer Jacques Cartier (1491–1557), who believed it to be the traditional aboriginal name of the lands he had discovered.
From 1867 to approximately 1951, Canada was often known as the Dominion of Canada, in acknowledgement of its status as a realm of the British Monarchy. The title became increasingly unpopular after World War II (1939-1945), however, and has now stopped being used in any official capacity.
Total area: 9 984 670 square kilometers
Capital city: Ottawa
Geographical coordinates: 60 00 N, 95 00 W
Bordering nations: United States of America (southern land border plus northwestern land border with Alaska), Greenland (sea border), St. Pierre and Miquelon (sea border)
Largest city: Toronto
Canada spans six time zones, Pacific Standard (PST), Mountain Standard (MST), Central Standard (CST), Eastern Standard (EST), Atlantic Standard (AST) and Newfoundland Standard (NST). Right now, the time in Canada’s major cities is:
(The unusual Newfoundland Standard time zone adds a mere 30 minutes to Atlantic Standard/Halifax time.)
Every Canadian province and territory except Saskatchewan also practises Daylight Savings. On the second Sunday in March, all Canadian clocks are set ahead one hour (“spring forward”), while on the first Sunday in November they are rewound back an hour (“fall back”). Canadian clocks use the “12-hour” model (1:00 am to 12 noon, followed by 1:00 pm to 12 midnight) rather than the European 24-hour time. More information on Canadian attitudes toward the clock can be found in the etiquette chapter.
The Canadian Calendar
Canadians are taught that the week begins on Sunday, and will usually record dates in the MM/DD/YY format, for example, 7/12/10 for July 12, 2010.
Though Canadians celebrate the beginning of a new calendar year on January 1, Canada’s so-called fiscal year, or the calendar year used for business and accounting purposes, lasts from April 1 to March 31. Canadians file their taxes in accordance with the fiscal calendar, with tax filing deadline in most circumstances being April 30.
Officially, Canada uses the metric system, but in practice, the system is only half-obeyed. The country only formally “went metric” in the mid-1980s, and the decision was fairly controversial. Out of either spite or stubbornness, most Canadians over 40 never fully adjusted to the transition, which has ensured the survival of the old imperial system in many aspects of day-to-day life.
All of Canada’s street signs and maps are marked in kilometers, but Canadians still commonly measure small lengths and weights in pounds and feet. Grocery stores still openly sell bulk foods by the pound, fabric is sold in yards, real estate agents measure homes in square feet, and it would be very rare to meet a Canadian who did not think of his own height and weight in imperial units. Most weather forecasts and thermometers still note temperatures in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
Canadian clothing, including shoes, are sold in U.S. sizes, which are also based on the imperial system.
Nearly 100 per cent of Canadians own telephones. Canadian phone numbers are 10 digits long, with the first three numbers being the area code, for example: (604) 555-1234. Most of the larger provinces will have several different area codes for their various regions. Canada’s international country code is 1, the same as the United States. A clique of cell phone companies provide 3G coverage to most populated parts of the country.
The vast majority of Canadians are now Internet users as well, and it’s been reported that Canadians spend more time online — an average of 43 hours a month — than any other country on Earth. The Canadian URL suffix is .ca, and is widely used by both government and private websites.
Most of Canada’s mail is delivered by a government-owned corporation known as Canada Post, but private couriers also exist. Every Canadian residence or business has a six-character postal code that alternates between letters and numbers, for example: V3J 2L1. There is a flat rate for sending letters within Canada, but rates for shipping packages within the country can vary depending on weight. Canadian stamps have lots of cool pictures on them.
Canadians watch region 1 DVDs, just like in the United States.