The first of July is a special time of year for Canadians, as it marks the politely joyous occasion of Canada Day. The holiday is essentially a less nationalistic version of American Independence Day (with a slightly higher alcohol percentage), and it brings Canucks from across the country together in celebration of the glorious and free land they call home.
But if you're only picturing a series of Canadian stereotypes, perhaps playing shinny while shotgunning two-fours, you are only actually half-right. Canada is vast and contains multitudes, and in order to highlight its lesser known history The WorldPost presents a round up of some facts that may change the way you look at the Great White North.
1. Canada Had A Plan To Invade America
Defence Scheme No. 1 was cooked up in 1921 as the brainchild of Canada's Director of Military Operations and Intelligence James Sutherland "Buster" Brown. The plan was less one of conquest and more an action plan for what to do if it ever looked like America was about to make a move on Canadian soil.
It called for a quick surge across the border to take crossing points, before a retreat back into the north while destroying bridges along the way. As the Washington Post reports, Brown's budget was only about $1,200, so he would drive to places he thought worth invading and pick up free maps of them from gas stations. This is an actual thing that happened.
2. Canada Has The Richest Middle Class In The World
As the New York Times reports, 2014 saw Canada eclipse the United States as having the wealthiest middle class in the world. Median income has risen substantially in Canada since 2000, and while wealth inequality is a concern, the after-tax earnings of Canada's middle-income workers are now the ones to beat.
3. The Best Pig-Related War Of All Time Was Fought In Canada
While it's an old adage that there are no good wars, there are certainly some wars that are better than others, and the Pig War definitely falls into the latter category. Fought on a tiny island off the coast of what is now Vancouver, Canada, the Pig War erupted in 1859 after a dispute between American and British settlers over an errant pig. As Modern Farmer tells it, a British swine had been rooting around in American Lymon Cutlar's potato patch. Cutlar shot the beast, sparking an international incident.
Things escalated quickly, with navy ships and hundreds of armed men flocking to the island in a tense standoff that threatened outright war between Britain and America. In the end, cooler heads prevailed and no one was killed (except the pig). The island was eventually ceded to the U.S. after negotiations arbitrated by the Germans, and is now home to two national parks.
4. Santa Claus Is Canadian
In Dec. 2013, the Canadian government held an official ceremony to issue passports for Santa and Mrs. Claus. While the move to make a fictional character a citizen of Canada was little more than a publicity stunt, it actually had slightly more sinister designs. Canada, along with a number of other northern nations, is currently in dispute over who controls lucrative areas of the Arctic. Establishing the North Pole's most prominent figure as one of its own was seen as Canada's bizarre way of sending a message about territory.
On a more uplifting note, Canada also has a program where the post office receives children's letters to Santa and responds to them all. They claim to have responded to more than 21.8 million letters in 30 languages.
5. Canada Discovered Insulin
Diabetics have Frederick Banting and Charles Best to thank for their discovery of insulin. The two Canadian scientists pioneered their life-saving work at the University of Toronto in the 1920s, with Banting receiving a Nobel Prize in 1923 for his discovery. The award's exclusion of Best made Banting furious, and in true Canadian fashion he decided to share half his cash prize with his colleague to compensate.
6. Also Basketball And A Ton Of Other Stuff
Ontario native James Naismith invented the game of basketball while working as a YMCA teacher in Massachusetts. The video above dramatizing his invention is from a series called "Heritage Minutes," which airs during commercial breaks on Canadian broadcast television. The series often highlights Canada's achievements or inventions, which include Winnie The Pooh and Superman. They are all amazing.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the island of San Juan was turned into a national park after being turned over to the U.S. The parks are situated on, but do not completely encompass, the island.