Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. The difference being, the territories are not sovereign entities, merely part of the realm (answering directly to the federal government) and each controlled by a commissioner. The provinces on the other hand are co-sovereign, run by a lieutenant-governor and have their own legislative assemblies.
If you're an American, you can think of the territories being operated similar to Washington, DC, Guam, or Puerto Rico, and the provinces being operated similar to any of the 50 states.
There is a clear sense of boisterous competition
between all thirteen divisions (and sometimes within an individual region as well), this is mostly centred on Toronto
In keeping with Canada as the second largest country by land mass, most of these divisions are quite large, Nunavut in particular is almost as large as Europe. However, some provinces are much smaller, reflecting the divisions of the original settlers.
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National capital: Ottawa
Provincial capital and largest city: Toronto
Other cities of note: Niagara Falls
, Hamilton (aka Steeltown), Guelph (aka Cowtown), Windsor (aka Car-town
) (not really, borders Detroit
, but isn't as depressed), London (like it's namesake, is also on a Thames River), Kingston (home of the first Prime Minister), Sudbury (the world class Neutrino Observatory makes this city a good setting for sci-fi novels), Thunder Bay (best city for climbing up a frozen waterfall!), Barrie (cottage country), and Kitchener-Waterloo (birthplace of RIM, which has now changed its name to that of its most famous product, BlackBerry)
Best known for: Economic powerhouse of Canada
Provincial official motto: Ut incipet fidelis sic permanet*
Provincial touristic motto: Yours to discover
Population: 12.9 million. Biggest.
Toronto Maple Leafs (you will never get tickets to a home game. Sorry) and the Ottawa Senators. There have been more than a couple of petitions to bring one of the bankrupt southern US teams to the hockey-hungry province (suggested cities included Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo region, Hamilton, London, and Mississauga) but all have been refused.
The Toronto Argonauts (known for the distinctive "Argoooos" cheer), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Ti-Cats to their fans), and the league's newest team, the Ottawa Redblacks (which began play in 2014).
The Toronto Raptors, like the Blue Jays in MLB, are Canada's only NBA team.note
Most common stereotype: Southern Ontarians forget the rest of the country even exists, northern Ontarians are miners, loggers, or hunters and speak a strange hybrid language of French, English, and Cree.
Best way to insult an Ontarian: Bring up the collapse of the manufacturing sector post 2008 and suggest they move to Alberta.
Other useful info:
Geographic shape: Resembles a sleeping whale, whereby the "tail" forms the more highly populated south.
Capital: Quebec City
Other cities of note: Sherbrooke (home to one of the biggest universities), Chicoutimi, Trois-Rivières (where all of your tax forms go), Gatineau (borders Ottawa), Laval
Best known for: Being French, separatism, French, poutine, language laws, French, history, protesting students, and did we mention they speak French?
Provincial motto: Je me souviensnote
Provincial touristic motto: La belle provincenote
Population: 7.9 million. Second largest (almost 2/3 of all Canadians live in Ontario or Quebec)
Notable media set in Quebec: Bon Cop, Bad Cop
; French Immersion
; The High Cost Of Living
; La Grande Seduction
The Montreal Canadians/Canadiens (or "Habs") whose fans are known for rioting regardless of the actual outcome of the game. It is still a point of contention with the NHL commission that the Nordiques have not returned to Quebec City.
Most common stereotype: The chain smoking, wine drinking, foul mouthed, Canada hating, heavily accented protester who will sleep with your girlfriend.
Best way to insult a Quebecer / un(e) Quebecois(se): Francophone: insist they speak English, Anglophone: insist they speak French.
Other useful info: The largest population of French speakers in North America.
So they speak French, eh?:
Actually, the dialect is much more old fashioned and "twangier" than what is spoken in France. As well, swear words are quite different from one to another, leading to movies dubbed in France being given a lighter rating in Quebec.
Largest province, resembled a wonky tulip. Actually over twice the size of Texas
Other cities of note: Nanaimo (yes, where Nanaimo bars come from), Whistler (yes, you do want to ski here), Surrey, Fort Nelson (last stop on the Alaska Highway before the Yukon), Prince George, and more cities beginning with K than any other province (including Kamloops, Kitimat, and Kelowna)
Best known for: Mountains and ocean
Provincial motto: Splendor sine occasu*
Provincial touristic motto: Beautiful British Columbia *
Population: 4.4 million. Third largest.
Notable media filmed in BC: A list that would probably take up more than half this page
The Vancouver Canucks, known for having fewer players who are from Vancouver than most of the teams they play against.
Most common stereotype: Hippies, tree huggers, pot growers, surfers, and lumberjacks.
Best way to insult a British Columbian: Call them a hippie, tree hugger, or surfer. Or, start a conversation about oil pipelines. Thanks to Robert Pickton, a famous British Columbian serial killer, calling one a Pigfarmer is a good way to get them foaming at the mouth. Or, if they're from anywhere other than Vancouver, assuming that they're from Vancouver just because they're from B.C. This is especially irritating for people from Victoria, who will also get mad if you think Vancouver is the provincial capital.
Other useful info: Home to the highest diversity of First Nations peoples, as was partially showcased during the 2010 Winter Olympics. Also home to Butchart Gardens, one of the most famous garden attractions in the world, and probably the most famous in North America.
Rectangular but shifted on one end. Borders the Alaskan
panhandle, the exact dimensions of which were hotly debated between Canada and the USA until the Yukon Gold Rush forced a settlement.
Largest city: Calgary
Other cities of note: Grande Prairie (farming town with some oil side business), Lethbridge (farming town with some natural gas side business), Medicine Hat (just has an awesome name), Red Deer (midway between Calgary and Edmonton), Fort McMurray (aka the Oil Sands or New Newfoundland)
Best known for: Ranchers, Country music, Conservatives, Oil, Beef
Provincial motto: Fortis et Liber*
Provincial touristic motto: Wild Rose Country
3.6 million. Fourth largest, Contains half the population of Newfoundland on a good day. Has more bad drivers per capita
than any other province.
Notable media set in Alberta: Any oil documentary ever.
Although the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers are fierce rivals, both flames and oil can be found at refineries in both cities.
The Calgary Stampeders and the Edmonton Eskimos
Paul Brandt, Corb Lund (aka the "Hurtin' Albertan"), k. d. lang, Nathan Fillion
, Bret Hart
and his deceased brother Owen
Most common stereotype: More Maritimers live in Alberta than the Maritimes, everyone's rich off the oil fields, and everyone who's not is a cowboy. Albertans eat STEAK. Or for Americans: Texas with snow.
Best way to insult an Albertan:
Serve a vegetarian mealnote
, vote Liberal or NDP
. Tell an Edmontonian that Calgary is better (or vice-versa). Insult Calgary's mayor (Calgarians only)
Other useful info: Wood Buffalo National Park in Northern Alberta is an area of boreal forest set aside as protected habitat for wood bison, caribou, moose and other threatened species and is larger than Switzerland.
Geographic shape: Rectangular with a bite taken out of the southwest
Largest city: Saskatoon
Other cities of note: Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Yorkton
Best known for: Wheat, potash, and being flat
Provincial motto: Multis e Gentibus Vires*
Provincial touristic motto: Land of living skies
Population: 1.0 million. Ukrainian
There exist petitions calling for an NHL franchise in Saskatoon, which amazingly almost would have gotten the St. Louis Blues when the team was up for sale in 1982.
Roughriders, which play in Regina (not to be confused with the former Ottawa Rough Riders). Fans are known for their overexuberance. It's not surprising to see Roughriders fans paint themselves green and use their jerseys as capes to watch the game on TV. In the stands, expect to see at least one or two watermelon helmets.
Famous Saskatchewaners (Saskatchewinners!):
Brent Butt of Corner Gas
, Kiefer Sutherland, Gordie Howe
Most common stereotype:
Farmers, Brent Butt of Corner Gas
, and the ability to see from one end of the province to the other. In fact, Saskatchewan is so flat (how flat is it), when your dog runs away, you can watch him go for three days.
Best way to insult a Saskatcherwaner: Saskatchewiener, Saskatchawhiner
Other useful info: Actually one of the more successful provinces coming out of the recession, in part due to uranium mines and recently re-opened rare earth mines (metals used in high tech devices)
Geographic shape: It's a rectangle!note
Capital and largest city: Winnipeg
Other cities of note: Brandon (aka, the other city in Manitoba), Churchill (not really a city, but they've got polar bears!)
Best known for: Wheat, lakes, record coldest intersection.
Provincial motto: Gloriosus et Liber*
Provincial touristic motto: Friendly Manitoba
Population: 1.2 million. Small.
Notable media set in Manitoba: "Tales from the Gimli Hospital", "My Winnipeg"
The Weakerthans, Neil Young
, The Guess Who
Most common stereotype:
Really cold and really boring, but the people there are nice. Basically Minnesota
with polar bears.
Best way to insult a Winnipegger: You mean there are other places in Manitoba?
Other useful info: Hundreds of the lakes, streams, rivers etc are unnamed, a naming convention has been set up by the Manitoba government to acknowledge service people (such as firefighters, police officers, or soldiers) who are killed in the line of duty by naming a water body after them. Also, in Churchill there's a law actually banning you from locking your car during certain parts of the year, just in case a polar bear is wandering around, and a pedestrian needs a quick refuge.
Geographic shape: Rectangular with an extra bit reaching out to grab Hudson's Bay
Largest city: Saint John
Other cities of note: Moncton, Bathurst, Miramichi
Best known for: Being called "Nouveau-Brunswick" in French; it is the only officially bilingual province, on which 33% of the population of the province identifies as Acadian, a Francophone ethnic group. Nicknamed "No Funswick" by Nova Scotians who drive through it to party in Quebec.
Relative population: 750,000. Very small (and shrinking fast).
Notable media set in New Brunswick: ...it's got nothing.
None, though since 2010, Moncton has hosted one regular-season game each year except in 2012. Moncton offered to play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during stadium repairs in 2013, but the Ti-Cats chose instead to play eight of their nine home games in the much closer city of Guelph, with the other home game in Moncton. This kept New Brunswick from becoming the first Atlantic province to get a CFL team. Sort of (they almost brought the CFL once to Halifax in the 1980s).
Famous people from New Brunswick:
Donald Sutherland, Louis B. Mayer (one of the founders of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Most common stereotype: Fishermen, seasonal workers, call centre employees, and Alberta shift workers.
Best way to insult a New Brunswicker/ un(e) Néo-Brunswickois(e): Mistake for Nova Scotia or refer to as "No Funswick." Also, depending on who you talk to, calling a New Brunswicker (of the Miramichi/Cassilis/Sunny Corner Areas) a Hillbilly or a Redneck will either earn you a slap/insult back or a high five and a "We sure damn are! The very best!" For French speakers, insist they speak English all the time or call them liars if they claim to be from New Brunswick instead of Quebec.
Other useful info: Bay of Fundy is home to the largest tides in the world.
Geographic shape: Square
Newfoundland and Labrador
Capital and largest city: St. John's
Other cities of note: Corner Brook, Gander (built around an airport!), Grand Falls-Windsor, Labrador City, Happy Valley-Goose Bay (built around a smaller airport!)
Best known for:
Distinct accents b'y
, fiddle music, cod, Newfoundland dogs
Population: 515,000. Fishermen.
Most common stereotype: Thick accents, fishermen, shift workers in Alberta, the lovable idiot (Newfie jokes)
Best way to insult a Newfoundlander: Newfie jokes
Other useful info: Newfoundland was the last province to join Confederation - it was actually an independent British colony until 1949 (and still used the Union Flag as its provincial standard until 1980). In part due to historical isolation, some regions of Newfoundland have accents distinct enough that people familiar enough can tell what town, or even what part of that town, an accent is from. Recent expansion of offshore oil drilling has reversed the flow of immigration, leading to people finally moving to Newfoundland for jobs.
Geographic shape: Two triangles. Newfoundland's an island, and Labrador is attached to the top of Quebec.
Prince Edward Island
Capital and largest city: Charlottetown
Other cities of note: Summerside, Cavendish
Best known for: Anne of Green Gables, red mud, potatoes
Population: 140,000. Very small (for a province—it's still 4.5 times larger than the largest Territory)
Famous Islanders: L.M. Montgomery, professional golfer Lorie Kane
Most common stereotype: Friendly lobster fishermen and potato farmers, and that you can drive across the province in less than a day...which is actually possible, but you gotta go fast.
Best way to insult an Islander: Insulting Anne will either earn you a handshake or a tongue lashing depending on who you talk to.
Other useful info: The mud really is red. There's more iron in it for some reason. The island has some of the best beaches on the Canadian East Coast.
Geographic shape: Resembles a jack-o-lantern's smile
Capital and largest city: Halifax
Other cities of note: Dartmouth, Sydney
Provincial motto: Munit haec et altera vincit*
Provincial touristic motto: Canada's Ocean Playground
Best known for: Fiddle music, seafood, lighthouses, sail boats, ship building
Population: 920,000. Bigger than the other Atlantic provinces, but not by much
None, but some petitions exist to bring a NHL franchise to Halifax. Interestingly, Nova Scotia is the province where hockey was first invented; the first game on record was held in Windsor in 1789.
None, but there was a plan to bring a team to Halifax once in the 1980s (Atlantic Schooners). There still exists lobbying efforts to bring the CFL to Nova Scotia.
Famous Nova Scotians:
The Trailer Park Boys
, Picnicface, Hank Snow, Sloan, Anne Murray
, Alexander Graham Bell (summer home in Cape Breton Island), Sidney Crosby
Most common stereotype: A little bit ridiculous, will drink you and your father under the table.
Best way to insult a Nova Scotian: Assume they're from New Brunswick.
Other useful info: Contains more Universities per capita than any other province, including six in Halifax alone.
Geographic shape: A fish swimming as fast as it can towards Rhode Island.
Note- all three territories' capitals are also their largest "cities" (actually more like large towns).
Other cities of note: Hay River (population: almost 4000)
Best known for: The Mackenzie River, Great Slave Lake, Polar bear shaped license plates, COLD
Population: 41,500. Tiny
Famous NWT-ers: Margot Kidder
Most common stereotype: Does anyone actually live there?
Best way to insult a NWT-er: Why would you bother?
Other useful info: It's the rump of the vast North-Western Territories, which at one point encompassed an area comparable in size to India—basically everything northwest of Ontario, with the exception of BC. Over the 19th and 20th centuries, Manitoba, Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nunavut were all carved out of it (in approximately that order). The Yellowknife Tim Hortons is the busiest Tim Hortons in the country, in part due to it being the only coffee shop within a day's drive on the only trucking route that services all the mining operations in the North that are reachable by road. Similarly, the Hay River Ford dealership was the most profitable in North America for years until the mining companies started diversifying their fleet.
Geographic shape: Mainland NWT is shaped like a slide.
Other cities of note: Dawson City
Best known for: The Alaska Highway, the Gold Rush, COLD
Population: 39,000. Tiny
Notable media set in Yukon: Yukon Men, Ice Pilots, "Yvon of the Yukon"
Can Sarah Palin see the Yukon from her house?
Most common stereotype: Big burly mountain men.
Best way to insult a Yukon-er: If they're from Whitehorse, assume they're from Dawson City and vice versa.
None, but Dawson City was once home to a team, the Dawson City Nuggets, which played a Stanley Cup final against the Ottawa Senators back when the Stanley Cup was still played by teams challenging the reigning champion. Unsurprisingly, they lost.
Other useful info: Unlike every other northern city, Whitehorse has a noticeably higher percentage of women than men. The Territory itself was created to get a handle on the Klondike Gold Rush which saw literally tens of thousands of people head north on the promise of getting rich quick (a lot of them turned back). The stories of Sam Steele and the original reputation of the RCMP are from this era.
Geographic shape: Triangular
Other cities of note: Alert, actually an American military base originally built during the Cold War, is the most northerly human settlement
Best known for: REALLY FUCKING COLD
Population: 32,000. Really Tiny
Notable media set in Nunavut: Ice Pilots
Famous Nunavummiut: Susan Aglukark
Most common stereotype: Everyone is either Inuit or crazy for moving there.
Best way to insult a Nunavummiut: Tell them they're crazy for moving there. They'll just laugh at you.
Other useful info: Also had the polar bear shaped license plates, although vehicles are only used within towns as no town in Nunavut can be reached by an all-season road. (These were changed in 2012. There's still a polar bear on it, though.)
Geographic shape: Mainland resembles a moose antler, the two largest islands, Baffin Island and Victoria Island (shared with NWT) are shaped like and upside down dog and bird respectively.