As you already know, the typical Canadian is polite, hard-working, law-abiding, generous, friendly, liberal, cheerful, a nice guy, peace-loving, an environmentalist, honest (except with regard to taxes), an immigrant, polite, respectful, boring, loyal, tolerant, sporting, a hockey fan and definitely not an American.
You may not know, however, that Canada is currently credited as the tenth-largest auto producer in the world, but as car crazy as we are, here is a list of 12 things you probably didn’t know about Canada’s driving record.
1. Canadians drove on the left until the 1920s (at least, some of us did)
To some, it may come as a surprise that even though Canada is part of the Commonwealth, we don’t drive on the left side of the road today. However, there was a point in time when not all provinces were on the same side.
Ontario, Québec and the central provinces have always driven on the right side of the road. On the other hand, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island all changed from left-side traffic to right-side in the early 1920s. Newfoundland was the last to follow suit and switch from left to right in 1947 before officially becoming a part of Canada in 1949.
2. We’d rather travel by car
According to the Statistics Canada, 15.4 million Canadians regularly commute to work, and 74 per cent of them drive a vehicle to get there. Only 12 per cent use public transportation, 5.7 per cent walk, and 1.3 per cent cycle. The remaining are passengers who hitch a ride with someone driving into the workplace.
3. We had no concept of right-of-way until 1925
The first traffic lights in Canada were installed at an intersection in east Hamilton, Ontario in June 1925. When the amber light came on, a bell would ring loudly, which allegedly drove nearby residents crazy. And in 1963, Toronto became the first city in the world to develop and implement a computerized traffic management system.
Before that, cars, horses, carts, merchants and pedestrians fought for their right of way in streets that were essentially a free-for-all. After a number of injuries and deaths, officers began to stand in intersections and direct traffic.
4. We have one of the world’s longest national highways
Coming in fourth after the Pan-American Highway, the Trans-Siberian Highway and Australia’s Highway 1, the Trans-Canada highway holds the title as one of the world’s longest national highways, spanning 8,030 km across all ten provinces from coast to coast.
5. We invented the snow blower (if you know what that is….)
As a country known for its cold weather and snow, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that a Canadian man invented the first snow blower. Snow was traditionally removed by attaching a grain plow to the back of a truck.
The first documented “snow machine” was patented in 1869 by J.W. Elliot from Toronto, but it was never produced. Then in 1894, Arthur Sicard of Québec set out to find an easier way for farmers to clear snow off of their fields. After 31 years of trying to perfect his design, he invented the first practical snow blower in 1925, named the “Sicard Snow Remover Snowblower.” The Sicard SSI Group is still in operation today.
6. We started electronic open toll routes
Toll roads and booths became a popular means for municipalities and townships to collect revenue for road maintenance since the 1800s. However, in 1997, Highway 407 opened up in Ontario, becoming the world’s first all-electronic, open-access toll highway. This privatized route features no toll booths and motorists are charged based on the size of their vehicle as well as the distance driven. Distances are calculated automatically using transponders or licence plates, which are scanned at entrance and exit points.
7. Canadians love Fords
The best-selling vehicle, brand and manufacturer year-to-date is the Ford F-Series pickup truck, Ford, and Ford Motor Company, respectively. The second and third best-selling vehicles? The Ram pickup, and the Honda Civic (which has been the top-selling car for the past 19 years).
8. We have polar bear license plates
Since 1970, the Northwest Territories has used polar bear-shaped licence plates. When the territory of Nunavut was formed in 1999 by sectioning off a portion of the Northwest Territories, they continued to use the design as well. While NWT still makes polar-bear plates, Nunavut opted for a change in design in 2012.
9. We are no stranger to road kill
It’s been said that every hour in Canada, there are between four and eight car accidents that involve large animals. It’s more common than you may think, and not just in rural areas.
10. We have a fairly young graduated licensing system
It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, we only had to take one road test to take on the open roads, unrestricted. Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to implement a “Graduated Licensing System” in 1994, forcing drivers to take a written test, and two driving tests before becoming a fully-licensed driver.
11. We have the largest parking lot
It may not be the biggest mall in the world, but it sure can fit the most cars in its parking lot. West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta has been credited in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest car park in the world, with around 20,000 available spots.
12. We can drive barefoot
Some people believe the myth that driving barefoot, or in flip flops, or high heels is illegal. However, there are no laws in place that bans driving while barefoot. That said, if you end up in a collision due to your lack of footwear, you could be charged with careless driving and found at-fault for any damages. Probably not the best driving habit to pick up.
The MaCorr Team