When we think about great Canadians, we think artists and astronauts, athletes and authors, actors and Annes who have gables. But what about the great Canadian creatures that we carry in our pockets all day? They’re the A-list celebrities of Canada’s coins (and they’re priceless).
Here are some facts about these unsung stars to share around the barbeque this Canada Day.
Star achievements: There’s a beaver dam in Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park that’s so big it can be seen from space.
Family home: A beaver’s dam isn’t just a place to stay temporarily. A family of beavers will look after the dam for many generations, passing it down to their children just like a human might.
Beaver-zilla: Between 3 million and 10,000 years ago, there existed a species of super-beaver called the Castoroides. Growing as tall as 3m (8ft), it was about the size of a black bear and one of the largest rodents ever to live.
Bone to pick: A male moose regrows its antlers every year because they fall off at the end of each breeding season. It’s an achievement that’s equivalent to growing an adult human skeleton in just a few months.
Forest feast: Moose often stand in water to fend off summer flies, and while there they sometimes snack on aquatic vegetation. An adult will consume up to 19.5kg (43 lb) of this a day!
Favourite foods: The world’s largest deer holds these foods dearest – the Arctic and Alaska willows.
Sink or swim: Loons are unusual among birds in that their bones are less hollow than those of other groups. They can expel air from their lungs and compress their body feathers until they slowly sink beneath the surface. Loons can remain underwater for well over 10 minutes.
Name that tune: The loon’s call is a 3 to 10 note falsetto yodel, rising, then fading.
Sea legs: Loons are almost entirely aquatic birds. Their legs are positioned so far to the rear of their body that they must shuffle on their bellies when they go from water to land.
No small thing: Polar bears are the largest of all bears on Earth. When a polar bear stands upright, it’s about as tall as an elephant. In spite of their huge size, polar bears are able to climb trees!
Hot stuff: A polar bear’s fur is about 10 times thicker than a person’s winter coat.
Polar party: Every October, between 600 and 1,000 bears gather at Cape Churchill on Hudson Bay to wait for the bay to freeze over so they can head out over the ice to hunt.