Sample Writing

Only in Canada! book cover
Only in Canada! From the Colossal to the Kooky
Owl Books/Maple Tree Press, 2002

Chapter Titles:

  • Amazing Facts About How Canada Was Bashed, Pummelled, Scrunched and Scraped into the Shape It's in Today
  • Naturally and Wildly Canadian
  • Canada: Who Was Here First, and Who Came Next
  • Canada: Now Open for Business
  • Weather Weirdness
  • So, You Think Canadians Are Boring? Ha!

Brrrrrrrrrr! Canada specializes in toe-tingling, finger-freezing winters, especially in its Far North. From long underwear to leg warmers, Arctic animals have come up with ingenious ways to survive the cold.

Cold Feet
You wouldn't walk around barefoot on the ice in winter - and caribou don't either. In summer, the caribou's foot pads touch the ground. But in winter, the caribou's hoofs grow longer, lifting the foot pads until they're off the ground. Voila - high heeled snow boots!

Here's another clever trick that caribou, and some birds, have. When their feet are stuck in cold snow, they don't waste energy heating their legs. They pump warm blood around the main parts of their bodies to keep their temperature at about 40°C, but they let their legs cool to 10°C.

Exceedingly Weird
The Arctic wooly bear caterpillar freezes solid each winter. In spring, this large, orange, fuzzy-wuzzy thaws out to continue its life cycle. It may take fourteen short Arctic summers before this caterpillar is finally ready to make a cocoon and change into an adult moth. Then it has to hurry to find a mate and lay its eggs because it can't survive the winter deep-freeze as a moth.

What a tail-thwapping tale! For hundreds of years, adventurous fur traders paddled canoes across the vast Canadian wilderness, through deadly rapids, mosquito-infested bogs, and all the usual stuff, in pursuit of pelts from those furry, flat-tailed critters with big buckteeth.

Behind the Scenes at the Fur Trade
The race is on! Who can get his hands on the most furry treasure? In the 1600s and 1700s, traders from Montreal and Hudson Bay ventured west and north into untravelled regions to find new fur supplies. First Nations trappers journeyed with their year's supply of pelts to trading posts that dotted the wilderness of what's now northern Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Canoe brigades transported heavy loads along lakes and rivers - just like truckers on today's highways.

There was cutthroat competition for the best furs, and sometimes it got nasty. Traders routinely tried to cut off each other's fur supplies and sometimes raided each other's forts. They had price wars and "buy now, pay later" deals. They gave out free drinks - whatever would bring them more furs.

Garage Sale Furs
Native people shook their heads in amazement. Those crazy fur traders! They would pay more for used furs - ones that had been well worn. That's because beaver hats were made using the inner fur of the beaver. On a used beaver skin that had been worn with its furry side turned in, the long outer hairs had already rubbed off, making it easier to get at the inner fur.


Did you eat pablum cereal as a baby? Bet you didn't know it was invented by three Canadian doctors in the late 1920s. They wanted a nutritious, vitamin-enriched, easy-to-prepare food for babies. Bet you thought it was just really yummy. Bet you dumped your pablum upside-down on your head. (Ah, you were so cute!)

Lines Down the Middle of the Road
I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you've never asked yourself who came up with the brilliant idea of painting a line down the middle of the road to separate the lanes of traffic. A Canadian, of course! The first line was painted on a stretch of highway in Ontario in 1930. Canadian like to keep things safe, neat, and orderly on the road. No collisions, please. You stay on your side, and I'll stay on my side.

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