Distinctly Canadian Essay, Research Paper
Canada, federated country of North America, bounded on the north by the
Arctic Ocean; on the northeast by Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, which separate it
from Greenland; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by the United
States; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska. Canada is the world’s
second largest country, surpassed in size only by Russia. Canada has a total
area of 9,970,610 sq. km (3,849,652 sq. mi), of which 755,180 sq. km (291,575 sq.
mi) is covered by bodies of fresh water such as rivers and lakes (Canadian
Canada contains great reserves of natural resources, notably timber,
petroleum, natural gas, metallic minerals, and fish. The name Canada is derived
from an Iroquoian term meaning “village” or “community.”
In Canada we have many images, practices, and items that make us one of
the best, younger countries in the world. In such a short time for a country to
exist, we have many images that make us very culturally rich in everyway.
Probably the most important images, practices, and items come for our friend,
the American Indians (or Native Americans). They were a definite asset to
Canada’s cultural growth.
The American Indians came into Canada in a series of migrations that
occurred during the last stages of the Pleistocene Ice Age, Mongoloid peoples
from Asia entered North America, probably crossing the Bering Strait. Gradually
they spread over the continent and into South America. By 1600, more than
250,000 of their aboriginal descendants inhabited what is now Canada. Developing
a Stone Age economy, they hunted, fished, and gathered food and, in warmer areas,
also farmed. The basic social unit was the band, which varied from a few
families to several hundred people. In areas of higher settlement density, bands
were organized into tribes and even larger units.
The largest linguistic group was the Algonquian, which included
migratory hunting tribes such as the Cree and Naskapi in the eastern subarctic
region and the Abenaki and Micmac in the eastern woodlands on the coast. By the
18th century, Algonquians had spread west, where Ottawa, Ojibwa, Blackfoot,
Plains Cree, and others roamed the prairies and plains in search of buffalo. The
Iroquoian speaking tribes the Huron and the Iroquois?lived in permanent farm
settlements and had a highly developed tribal organization in the St. Lawrence
Valley and around Lakes Ontario and Erie (Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Tribes of Salishan, Athabascan, and other linguistic groups occupied
fishing villages along the rivers of interior British Columbia. On the Pacific
coast, Salishan tribes, such as the Bellacoola, and related Wakashan-speaking
tribes?the Kwakiutl and Nootka?developed a rich culture, based on salmon fishing,
expressed in potlatch ceremonies and carved wood totem poles. In the western
subarctic, the Athabascan group?Carrier, Dogrib, and others led a primitive
hunting existence similar to that of the Algonquians. Small, isolated Inuit
bands developed a unique culture based on hunting seals and caribou, enabling
them to survive the harsh environment of the Arctic (Canadian Encyclopaedia,
As we can see the Indians gave us many items that give us our culture,
Native Indians can be said that they are basically our culture. Whatever they
have as images, items, or practices, are ours also.
We can tell from the Natives that they feel that the animal kingdom was
an important part of their lives. They show this from the things they hunt and
the items they make (totem poles, with many sacred animals carved into them).
Some very important Canadian animals are: bison (buffalo), caribou,
salmon, beaver, loon, and the moose. These animal images are distinctly
Canadian. Some of these animals live elsewhere, but when people think of theses
animals, they think Canada.
Bison, the largest terrestrial animal in North America, where it is
usually called buffalo. The bison is characterized by a hump over the front
shoulders; short, sharply pointed horns (in both sexes) curving outward and up
from the sides of the massive head; and slimmer hindquarters. A mature bull of
the North American bison is about 2 m (about 6.5 ft) high at the hump and 2.7 to
3.7 m (9 to 12 ft) long and weighs 850 to 1100 kg (1800 to 2400 lb); the female
is smaller. The head, neck, forelegs, and front parts of the body have a thick
coat of long, dark hair. The rear part of the body is covered with much shorter
hair. The adult bull usually has a black beard about 30 cm (about 12 in) long
(Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Until the 19th century, as many as 60 million bison lived on the Great
Plains from Mexico into Canada, and some were found east of the Mississippi
River. They were central to the existence of the Plains peoples, who used them
for food, hides, and bone implements; even the dried dung, called buffalo chips,
was used as fuel (Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Barren Ground caribou are native to the tundra regions of northern
Canada, Greenland, and Alaska. Historically, the Inuit (Eskimo) living in arctic
regions have depended on these animals for survival, using every part of the
body for food, implements, or clothing. The caribou usually live in small herds
of cows and calves and a few bulls. Most of the older bulls stay in separate
small bands, except during rut, and travel on the fringes of migrating herds
(Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975).
Atlantic Salmon, the true salmon, the largest members of the salmon
family, are characterized by tasty flesh that is often orange-red. The common
salmon of the North Atlantic Ocean that is sent to market averages about 7 kg
(about 15 lb) in weight, but specimens weighing more than 45 kg (more than 100
lb) have been caught. The Atlantic salmon migrates to cold, fresh water in late
spring or early summer, swimming upstream at an average rate of up to 6.4 km (4
mi) per day. Because salmon can jump as much as 3.7 m (12 ft) out of water, they
clear most obstacles in their path. The female lays as many as 20,000 eggs in
October or November, after which time the adult salmon float downstream and
return to the sea (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975).
Unlike the various species of Pacific salmon, the Atlantic salmon does
not die after its first spawning but returns year after year to its breeding
place. The newly hatched young, which are known as parrs or brandlings because
of the dark transverse markings on their sides, remain in fresh water for about
two years. At this time, the young, which are known as smolts and which have
become silvery in colour, descend to the sea. Upon the first return of the
Atlantic salmon to its spawning ground, the fish is known as a grilse. After
spawning, it is known as a Kelt. Adult males travelling toward the spawning
grounds are known as dog salmon (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975).
Several subspecies of the Atlantic salmon live in the lakes of the
northern United States without ever descending to sea; such salmon are known as
landlocked salmon. Landlocked salmon are much smaller than are migrating salmon,
attaining a maximum weight of about 16 kg (about 35 lb). The two most important
landlocked populations of the Atlantic salmon are the Sebago salmon, found from
New Hampshire to New Brunswick, and the ouananiche, of Lac Saint-Jean, Canada
(Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975).
Beaver, semiaquatic mammal noted for the building of dams. One species
of beaver occurs in North America, the other in Eurasia. The two species differ
chiefly in the shape of the nasal bones and are so much alike that some
authorities consider them to be varieties of the same species. They are large
rodents; the average adult beaver weighs about 16 kg (about 35 lb), but
specimens as heavy as 40 kg (90 lb) have been found, and some extinct beavers
were almost bearlike in size. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975).
Beavers have long been exploited for their fur, and for many years
during the 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of beaver skins were
exported to Europe from North America annually. The animals were also sometimes
destroyed because of the damage they did to forests and the flooding
occasionally caused by dams. Ceaseless slaughter led to near extinction of
beavers in both Europe and North America. Although, they are becoming
reestablished in Canada (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975).
Loon, common name for five species of diving birds having heavy,
straight, sharp-edged bills; heavy and elongated bodies; short, slender, pointed
wings; and short, stiff tails. Their legs are short, and the three front toes
are webbed. Because their legs are placed far back on the body, loons cannot
walk on land. They therefore place their nests along the shores of lakes or in
marshes and swamps, where they can slide directly into the water. The nests are
usually loose structures made of aquatic vegetation, in which the female lays
two dark brownish eggs (Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
The common loon, an American species, breeds throughout much of Canada
and the northern United States, wintering at sea south to the Gulf of Mexico,
where it molts and becomes flightless. It is 70 to 90 cm (28 to 36 in) long. In
summer its back is black spotted with white, and its head and throat black with
a green or blue sheen. Winter and immature birds are gray (Canadian
In North America, Moose are found in wooded areas of Canada and the
northern United States. An adult may stand 1.4 to 2.35 m (4.6 to 7.7 ft) high
at the shoulder and weigh 200 to 825 kg (440 to 1820 lb). The males bear
enormous, broad, flattened antlers with marginal prongs, or tines. The antlers
are shed each year after the mating season, by which time they can attain a
spread of 1.5 m (5 ft) or more (Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Moose generally are solitary, although they may form into small bands in
winter and trample down the snow where good cover exists, making a “moose yard”
where the animals stay while the food lasts. In deep snow a moose is helpless
and easily hunted by humans on snowshoes. During the mating season, bulls battle
for the cows, and their roars may be heard for great distances. After a
gestation of 226 to 264 days, one to three calves are born. If a baby is born
the following year, the mother drives off her first offspring, although the
young may rejoin the mother after a few weeks.
For a time the species was threatened with extinction, both in Europe
and in North America, because of indiscriminate hunting. Modern game laws and
areas set aside for the protection of these animals have helped to save them
(Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
Canada does not only equate beautiful animals, but Canada also includes,
two nation sports; Ice Hockey, and Lacrosse. Again we see the influence of the
Natives on Canadian items, by looking at Lacrosse.
Lacrosse was invented by the natives of Canada, although it was much
more violent then it seems to be presently. Lacrosse, field game played by
two opposing teams, with a ball and a special netted stick, or crosse, with
which the ball is caught, carried, and thrown. The game, originally played as
training for warfare by the Native Americans of North America, and called
baggataway, was adopted by the French-Canadians. They called the head of the
stick used in the game la crosse because it resembles a bishop’s crosier or
cross. The National Lacrosse Association (now the Canadian Lacrosse Association)
was formed in 1867 to govern the sport. Since then, lacrosse has, by reason of
culture, tradition, and popularity, become the Canadian national game (Canadian
Then their is ice hockey, one of the most popular sports in whole wide
world. Spectator may argue that beer is part of the game, but that is another
essay topic. Hockey, game in which two opposing teams attempt to drive a puck
through the goal of the opponent by means of sticks that are curved or hooked at
Ice hockey is probably a descendant of bandy, a sport that developed in
England in the late 18th century but is now played only in the Baltic countries,
Sweden, and Russia. Modern ice hockey was devised in either 1853 or 1860 by
British soldiers stationed in Canada. Rules were set by students at McGill
University in Montr?al, Qu?bec, in 1879, and several amateur clubs and leagues
were established in Canada by the late 1880s. The game is believed to have been
first played in the United States in 1893. By the beginning of the 20th century
the sport had spread to Great Britain and other parts of Europe. Today, ice
hockey is played in some 30 countries, principally in North America, Scandinavia,
and Russia. “It is the national sport of Canada” (Encyclopaedia Britannica,
Probably the two most important Canadian images are the Mounted Police,
and the Maple Leaf. We can be absolutely positive that if we ask anybody (with
reasonable sanity) about the Maple Leaf or the Mounted Police they will surely
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), in Canada, national police force,
known familiarly as the Mounties, which, since 1950, enforces law in all
provinces except Qu?bec and Ontario. The corps, organized in 1873 as the
Northwest Mounted Police, gained respect during the 19th century for combatting
smuggling, horse thievery, and desperadoes in the violent northern territories.
It is the only law enforcement body in the Northwest and Yukon territories of
Canada, where members serve voluntarily. The RCMP has its national headquarters
in Ottawa, Ontario, and is under the jurisdiction of the solicitor-general of
Canada (Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988)
The force is widely known for its high degree of training, military
bearing and pride, and ceremonial horse shows, and the Mounties have been the
subject of many stories and films. Their parade uniform consists of a low,
broad-brimmed hat, scarlet jacket, and blue trousers with a yellow stripe
(Canadian Encyclopaedia, 1988).
The Maple Leaf represents individual citizens and the nation as a whole,
expressing its collective will and sovereity. The maple leaf is what is on our
flag that represents all that we stand for. The maple leaf includes everybody
and everything that is Canadian. Freedom is was the maple leaf on our flag
Canada has many images, items, and practices that weren’t mention, which
are just as important as the ones above. Yet from only such a few Canadian
images, it is very obvious that we are still linked enormously to the native
cultures. Most of the items that are distinctly Canadian are descended from our
native brothers. This is shown by the number of images Canada has that are
related to nature, and natural life. Canada has the most images that are
related to nature in all of the world.
1988. Canadian Encyclopaedia, 2nd edition. Hurtig Publishers, Ltd. Edmonton,
1975. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition. William Benton Publisher, Inc.