Friends in Canada


Canada is the largest country in North America and the second largest country in the world. Because there is a variety in this land, there is also a great variety in the lives of the Canadian people.

A family living in one of the Maritime Provinces (near the sea) might earn its living from offshore fishing or whaling in arctic waters. Boats are built and repaired here, and fish are canned or frozen, and shipped to far places.

Boys and girls living in Quebec speak French, the official language of that province and one of the two official languages of Canada.

In British Columbia the trees are tall and the rivers are swift. A boy might grow up to be a high-rigger (one who cuts tops off huge trees). This job requires skill because a tree whips back and forth when the top falls.

In northern Canada are two cold lonely areas called the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories. This land is full of adventure and discovery and among the last frontiers in the world.

Canada formed a dominion in the early 1870’s, and one of the first acts of the government was to form the Northwest Mounted Police. Their motto was to “Uphold the Right.” These Mounties were not ordinary men. Love of their country was more important than money or glory, because they were paid little for their services.

In 1904 the king of England declared that such a brave organization should be recognized. He added the word royal to their name, and these men became the Royal Northwest Mounted Police. Today they are a modern police force and are called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Many boys and girls from Ontario live in a large city such as Toronto or Ottawa, but some children live in remote mining areas. A boy can go into one of the mines to work with his father, but it is supposed to be bad luck for a girl to go into the mines.

Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are the bread basket of Canada. The farmlands stretch for miles and miles with fields of oats, barley, rye, and wheat.

Did you know?

Canada is an Iroquois Indian word that means “village.”

The border between Canada and the United States is nearly 4,000 miles long and is the longest friendly border between two countries in the world.

Mukluks are waterproof boots made from seal skin.

Kayaks are one-man canoes made by stretching skin over a wooden frame.

The largest herd of bison (buffalo) in North America is in Wood Buffalo National Park between Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

A young boy is said to have discovered asbestos in Canada. Fibers that he pulled out of the soil were knitted into a pair of socks by his mother. When the socks were left by mistake on a hot stove, they did not burn. Canada’s asbestos mining industry began from this accident.

Canadian Sports

Ice hockey is the leading sport in Canada. Canadians originated the game, and professional players from Canada are among the best in the world. After the first freeze in November, most Canadian boys take their skates, hockey sticks, shin guards, and pucks and head for the frozen rivers, lakes, or rinks.

Lacrosse is Canada’s oldest game. When French settlers first arrived in North America, they found Indians playing something called baggataway. Players carried three-foot long sticks with curved ends. With these they tossed a hard ball back and forth, trying to put it in goals at the ends of the field. It was a fast and rough contest, with players often getting banged on the head.

The white men liked the game, and eventually baggataway evolved into lacrosse. Today the game is played on a surface about the size of a hockey rink with six players on each team.

Curling is another popular sport in Canada. Players (curlers) divide into four-man teams (rinks) and take turns sliding a 42 1/2-pound stone from one end of a sheet of ice to the other toward a round target called a house. The stones closest to home earn points for the rink, and players are permitted to knock the other team’s rocks out of the way. They may also help the progress of a teammate’s rock by sweeping vigorously in front of the stone with a long-strawed broom to lessen the friction and speed the stones home.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Stan Thurman