The New Canada Guide

The New Canada Guide
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Well, here it finally is, after much promising and anticipation:

J.J.’s Complete Guide to Canada

I hope you guys will have a lot of fun with it. I’ve spent a ton of time on it over the last few months, mostly reading and researching in an effort to provide a really good, comprehensive, accessible summary of everything worth knowing in order to properly understand Canada.

I have to give a huge thank-you to my proofreader Nathan, who I owe so, so much for helping me out as tirelessly as he did.

Other than that, just check it out! And if you enjoy it, be sure to share it with all your buddies. I’m going to the Calgary Comic Con this weekend, so I’m afraid this is gonna be the only update this week. But please don’t┬áhesitate┬áto offer up any and all feedback you may have.


  1. @CraigJamesWilly

    I'm not going to lie. This looks awesome. Congrats!!

  2. David

    It is awesome!

    I've already found mistakes though (though, ti's to be expected from someone who supports the Conservatives (bazinga!)) Where do I send my list of corrections and Liberal party paraphernalia?

  3. Alcofribas

    Just one thing: The Maritimes, NB, NS & PEI, are part of Atlantic Canada together with Newfoundland and Labrador.

  4. J.J. McCullough

    What did I say?

  5. Yannick

    You said that the Maritimes and the Atlantic provinces are the same. They are not.

    Maritimes : NB, NS, PEI.
    Atlantic : Maritimes + NL.

    Overall none of it is particularly *wrong*, but a lot of it is very simplified and tells things from a partisan point of view.

    How Quebec was left the only province to not sign the constitution, for instance, is laughable. You make it seem like it was all about seperatism. It's a childishly simple look at the situation that ignores the fact that 7 other provincial premiers originally opposed Trudeau, not just the Quebec premier.

  6. ThePsudo

    Of course it's very simplified. To tell all the truth about anything would take more text than anyone would ever read.

  7. Alcofribas

    Also Roland Michener was a Tory.

  8. J.J. McCullough


  9. Alcofribas

    And lastly, while Inuit and "Indians" are all Aboriginals, the Inuit are not "First Nations". You should probably switch the "First Nations" header to "Aboriginal Peoples"

  10. J.J. McCullough

    I've heard wildly conflicting things about this.

  11. J.J. McCullough

    I just noticed I didn't even mention Inuit on the First Nations page!

  12. Yannick

    First Nation is a legal definition. It specifically excludes Métis and Inuit. If you are the one, you can absolutely not be any of the others.

    If you want a catch-all term to mean "Pre-European people", aboriginal is one that's fairly popular. Or you could do like the federal government, and say "First Nations, Métis and Inuits"

  13. ThePsudo

    This reminds me of the Hispanic/Latino and English/British distinctions. What do you suppose it is about human classification that brings out the nitpicker in us all?

  14. Alcofribas

    Genetically and liguistically, the Inuit are wholly distinct from the First Nations, who arrived on the continent much earlier.

  15. Alcofribas

    This is consistent with any academic usage I've encountered

    "The term First Nations (most often used in the plural) has come into general use for the indigenous peoples of the Americas located in what is now Canada, except for the Arctic-situated Inuit, and peoples of mixed European-First Nations ancestry called Métis."

  16. David

    (OK, "here" seems to be the answer to my question for now)

    First page I went to, for whatever reason, was the one on the Territories of Canada (I've never even lived there, though I grew up close to what became Nunavut). Found two there: "a local prime minster" (second paragraph, "What Makes A Territory Different") should be "premier" I imagine (prime minister I think is technically correct for the leader of any province or territory, but they're usually called "premiers" to distinguish them from the big kahuna in Ottawa).

    Second one: "Though population wise, ti's the smallest of Canada's three territories" (third paragraph, "The Yukon"), looking at the population figures you provided for the three, it's actually slighlty larger than Nunavut, making it middle of the pack (which was, by the way an eye opener, I thought Yukon was first, followed very closely by NWT and way at the back at about half the size of either one of the others is Nunavut, was surprised at how close they each were.)

    I guess if I find more I'll post them here, or am I missing where your contact page is?

  17. J.J. McCullough

    Posting stuff here is fine! I made the correction about the Yukon, but in order to make the guide more accessible for people who live out of Canada I use the term "prime minister" to occasionally refer to premiers, since I think that's a more identifiable term to describe what these people basically are.

  18. SES

    Provincial flags based on the red ensign weren't phased out in the 1960s so much as they were phased in. There were no official provincial ensigns until 1965, when the government of Ontario decided to spite Pearson by slapping the Ontario arms on a red ensign. Sometimes provincial red and blue ensigns would show up in flag books before that, but they were never that popular, and they were mainly just the creation of flag book writers who needed to fill space.

  19. J.J. McCullough

    Hmm, you're right!

  20. Callum

    Minor glitch here, but on the Basic Facts page, Vancouver Island is in blue when it should be in red.

  21. @Cristiona

    On the anti-American attitudes page, a caption reads:

    "The cover of the February 2012 edition of The Walrus, a left-leaning current affairs magazine, celebrates the centennial anniversary of the 1812 War without much subtlety."

    I believe that should be bicentennial. Unless it was celebrating the anniversary in 1912. Which would seem a strange thing to celebrate.

  22. OldsVistaCruiser

    Also, only one U.S. state is actually celebrating the War of 1812's bicentennial. Maryland has a new licence plate which commemorates it. MD is also home of Ft. McHenry and the birthplace of the "Star Spangled Banner," my nation's anthem, which can't hold a candle to "O Canada" (I'm probably one of very few of your southern neighbours who knows the English words to your national anthem!).

  23. Dan

    First, the guide looks great! Well worth the wait.

    Did you consider adding auto racing to the Sports section? I think it's well worth mentioning as Canada has many national and international racing events each year. These would include, but not limited to:

    NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, competing entirely in Canada
    The Canadian Grand Prix for Formula 1, held almost every year since 1967 (currently in Montreal)
    The annual NASCAR Nationwide Series race held on the same Montreal track
    The annual Indycar races held in Edmonton and Toronto.

    There's also Jacques Villeneuve, Canada's only Formula 1 World Champion (1997), and only the third North American to win that title, after Americans Phil Hill (1961) and Mario Andretti (1978).

  24. ThePsudo

    Ooo, I found one! Now I get a turn at pedantic nitpickery!

    On the Early Canadian History page it says, "the Brits would eventually assemble an impressive collection of 13 separate colonies along the eastern coast of North America, known collectively as New England." Technically, New England only referred to the colonies north of New Amsterdam (later, New York), which were settled by Puritans trying to provide an exemplary society for England to imitate. All 13 colonies were collectively known as the English Colonies or, less often, the Continental Colonies. If you go by the Dominion of New England, you can include New York and New Jersey, but one should never use the term "New England" to refer to Maryland, Virginia, Carolina, or Georgia.

  25. OldsVistaCruiser

    The guide mentions the "myth" about "aboot." My friend, who is from suburban Ottawa, and is not a hick, DOES use "aboat." Another friend from the Tulsa, Oklahoma area was busting on my Canadian friend about his use of "aboat" while we were camping in the little town of Hell, Michigan at the "Vista Cruise to Hell and Back" (2003-07). My Canadian friend was talking about his pop-up camper, when I broke in, saying to him, "Is that a boat trailer?" He turned to me and said the full version of "F-U" with a huge grin!

    My joke about the Canadian accent is, "How do you tell a Canadian by his accent? 'There's a moase aboat in the oathoase!" (there's a mouse about in the outhouse)

    I also bust on Boston police officers about their accent as well. "Wouldja mind steppin' outta the cah, sih? I smell marijuaner in thehe!"

  26. OldsVistaCruiser

    It's not just Canadians who use "oat" instead of "out." Those in the western part of the Commonwealth of Virginia also use it! Listen to Earl Hamner narrate "The Waltons" as he uses that pronunciation.

  27. J.J. McCullough

    I actually say "aboot" as well, so I know firsthand that it's not a complete myth. But it's not super-mainstream and I know a lot of Canadians resent the idea that it's a common thing (I get mocked and teased a lot myself for it).

  28. OldsVistaCruiser

    Speaking of Boston, my friend isn't a Sens fan – he's a Bruins fan. When the Bruins got sent golfing last night in OT, my friend used a word that I can't repeat here! ;-)

  29. OldsVistaCruiser

    I love the new Canadian $100 bills! The U.S. still hasn't gotten their old-fashioned cotton-based paper $100 off the ground yet from their new redesign, which was supposed to be released in 2010. Apparently, there were some glitches with the redesign, the first change in the U.S. $100 note since 1996. We still use $1 and, much less commonly, $2 notes. The $1 hasn't changed since 1934 except for the reduction in the text saying that the bill is legal tender and the addition of the words, "In God We Trust." The $2 hasn't changed since its reintroduction in 1976.

    The U.S. Treasury Dep't. wants to get rid of our $1 bill as well, stating that a $1 bill lasts 18 months in circulation while the $1 coin lasts 30 years. We have billions of $1 coins gathering dust in vaults here in the States as well as billions of $2 bills. We should get rid of our $1 bill, use our $1 coins and our $2 bills. – the story of the new $100 U.S. bill.

  30. AlInfamous

    Canada created Bieber and must be destroyed!

  31. Jack B Nimble

    I'm not sure how this excellent guide to Canada can be complete when there is no mention of the absence of rats in Alberta. When I traveled to Alberta a few years ago I was told there are "no rats in Alberta." I was even told by a local kid that there are rat patrols that go around making sure people aren't sneaking rats in under the radar.

  32. Yannick

    The rat police is a very real thing. You get very hefty fines if you smuggle rats in.

    Some guy was fined recently for having rats as pets in Calgary. It's very serious stuff.

  33. P. Scanlon

    This is a large improvement on what you had before. There are, however, a few significant mistakes in the Legal System and Constitution sections.

    "The main division is that provincial courts handle initial prosecutions, while federal courts handle appeals."

    This is wrong. Federal courts never handle criminal law. I think you are confusing "federal courts" (e.g. the Federal Court of Appeal) with provincial courts that have federally-appointed judges. See, the way it works is like this. The provinces have the ability under the Constitution Act, 1867 (the "BNA Act") to set up their own courts. There are two kinds of provincial courts: inferior courts and superior courts. The BNA Act gives the federal government the power to appoint the judges who sit in the provincial superior courts (e.g. the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia), while the provinces appoint the judges who sit in inferior courts. Generally speaking, criminal prosecutions can start in either the inferior or superior court of your province. Appeals of those prosecutions go to the appeals court in your province (e.g. the Ontario Court of Appeal), and then to the Supreme Court of Canada. So if you're charged with a crime, you're prosecuted, you're convicted, and you appeal, the entire process goes through the provincial courts until you get to the Supreme Court of Canada. Your initial trial, however, may be done either by a judge who is appointed by the feds or by the provinces.

    "All "permanent and general" laws of Canada are published yearly in a consolidated volume known as the Canadian Criminal Code."

    This is really wrong. I don't know how you came across it. The Criminal Code is just like any normal federal statute (e.g. the Income Tax Act, the Patent Act, the Canada Labour Code, etc.). It contains a lot (but by no means all) of our criminal law (another criminal law statute, for example, is the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act). The laws that Parliament passes each year are indeed published in large volumes, and every so often all the laws on the books are put together in a big collection of volumes called the "Revised Statutes of Canada" (the last time this was done was in 1985). But this has nothing to do with the Criminal Code.

    Your bit on the constitution is generally OK. However the Charter was not the only thing that was added in 1982. The Charter is actually just sections 1-34 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which also contained other things like protections for Aboriginal rights (not in the Charter itself) and an amending formula. Keep in mind also that while the Constitution Acts 1867 and 1982 have been amended, the "amendments" are not a separate part of the constitution. Amendments are a part of those documents themselves. When they are amended, the amendment is added to the document itself, and you refer to it as such. So for example, while with the US Constitution you might refer to an amendment as "the Fourteenth Amendment," in Canada you would refer to an amendment as "section 92A of the Constitution Act, 1867").

  34. P. Scanlon

    In other words a better way to frame your discussion of our constitutional documents would be to list the Constitution Act, 1982, and then to say that that Act contains the Charter.

    Otherwise it looks great.

  35. J.J. McCullough

    I thought I got that "permanent and general" line from the cover of the Criminal Code itself, but now that I double-check, I can't seem to find where I actually got it. So my apologies. I've changed it.

    I've also corrected the court stuff. Tell me if what I have written is more accurate now.

    But isn't what you say about amendments only really correct in reference to post-1982 amendments? People don't refer to something like the Newfoundland Act as a "section" of the Constitution Act, do they?

  36. Guest

    "Born in Poland to a Jewish family, Dr. Morgentaler survived death in a concentration camp, which has made him a frustratingly complex foe for pro-life groups. Brash and outspoken, he remains among the most controversial living Canadians."
    He survived death itself! I can see how that would make him a frustratingly complex for. Especially for Christian groups!

  37. Yannick

    William Annand, second premier of Nova Scotia, should be listed under "Anti-Confederation Party" since that's the ticket he ran under. Halfway through the term they changed their name to the Liberal Party.

    I was hoping you would have something about Nova Scotia being the first seperatist province in Canada, given it's initial rabid anti-confederation attitude. It's rather quaint and all.

    Also, under "anti-americanism" you have a link pointing to a 1988 liberal ad, but present it as 1998 ad.

  38. Taylor

    R. v. Morgentaler did not say there was a Constitutional right to abortion. It said that the current regime violated Section 7 and had to be struck down. Only one justice (Wilson) said there was a constitutional right to abortion.

  39. Taylor

    *contemporary regime

  40. csthom

    Milk in a bag?! (You were right; I'm fascinated.)

  41. OldsVistaCruiser

    We had milk in a bag when I was a kid in the early 1970s in Pennsylvania!

  42. Ada

    Only in Ontario. The first time I went there, I couldn't believe it until I saw it at a grocery store. It's unsettling.

  43. dave

    under education, universities and colleges, you write "Broadly speaking, a BA will take at least five years to earn"

    afaik, canadian universities typically offer three (basic) or four (honours) year bachelor's degrees…

    "Unlike most colleges universities typically offer BA's at faculties with high or very high research activities. Therefore, most Canadian universities no longer offer three-year pass degrees, and grant four-year degrees exclusively. " (… )

    "In most cases, bachelor's degree programs in Quebec are three years instead of the usual four; however, in many cases, students attending a university in Quebec that did not graduate from college must complete an additional year of coursework. When Ontario had five years of high school, a three-year bachelor's degree was common, but these degrees are being phased out in favour of the four-year degree." (… )

    you also write, "A master’s degree or doctorate will take considerably longer"

    canadian master's programs are between 18 months and three years, whereas a doctorate usually lasts four or five. point being, "considerably longer" makes sense for if you pursue a bachelor's, master's, and doctorate (total 8/9+ years), however, it seems like the wrong choice of words w/r/t master's graduates, who may hold both degrees within five or six years

    sorry aboot citing wikipedia

  44. ThePsudo

    I've always thought the "X-year degree" idea was a silly way to label them. My local university offers several batchelor's degrees and common parlance calls them "four-year degrees," but it is typical for people to take 3 years to get their "two-year degree" (so they can bulk up on elective prerequisites) and then 2 more years (total of 5) to get their four-year degree.

    Basic sense dictates that some people will get these degrees sooner and others later; so why refer to them by years at all?

  45. David

    Got to the part about Canada's symbols, and, as an anthematologist, found some facts that do need updating in the last section.

    First off, the facts about The Maple Leaf Forever are essentially true, but the YouTube video linked to are newer, "more politically correct" lyrics. (The original lyrics (, written around the time of Confederation, are *very* pro-England, and make very heavy allusions to the conquering of the French by the English. You can imagine how well that song goes over in Quebec. In 1997, the CBC commissioned to create new lyrics to the song, which are the ones you have the link to Buble singing, though personally, Anne Murray's version ( brings tears to my eye. (If you want a YouTube link to the original lyrics (I've run into purists who say that's the only lyrics, the CBC's lyrics don't count), you can see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir I bleieve singing it at

    Also, O Canada, which was made the national anthem in 1980, not 1981 (proclaimed the anthem 100 years and 1 week after its first performance on St. Jean Baptiste Day, 1880), legally only has one verse (or, more exactly, the English version has one verse, and the French version has one verse). The original poem has several verses (and was translated into several verses for the English market in the 1930s (yes, the song was originally French, and remained that way for decades), so any "extra verses" aren't officially part of the national anthem, they're technically performing a song that isn't the anthem. You can see more information on my site

  46. David

    (oops, that last link should be

  47. Alcofribas

    JJ: The essential difference between the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada is this: Since the days of French colonisation, the land that is now NB, NS and PEI has been treated as a "unit", first called Acadia. Even though the British split up their conquest into three colonies by the time of the American Revolution, they shared common histories, cultures and economies. They were called "the Maritimes" since before Confederation. Newfoundland, however, has a radically different history as a completely separate colony and Dominion. Smallwood thought it would be presumptuous to nudge Newfoundland's way into the long established "Maritime" family, so he promoted the term "Atlantic Canada" to refer to the 4 eastern provinces. I have no real academic credentials, but I've spent three summers working at Maritimes historical museums, so I do consider myself well-versed in east coast history.

  48. Alcofribas

    OK, well, maybe not radically different in the grand scheme of things….

  49. Guest

    JJ, I think the BBC just outdid your previous charts of Canadian political connections