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Topic – Canada’s National Symbols

Read the Following Selection

Read the following selection, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Canada’s National Symbols

Around the world, the beaver and the maple leaf are emblems of Canada. But how did these symbols come to represent our country?

Mmmm, Maple Syrup!

Maple syrup

As early as 1700, people began to use the maple leaf as a symbol of Canada. The country’s indigenous peoples taught early European explorers and settlers how to make sweet syrup from the maple tree sap. 

By the mid-1800s, Canada’s soldiers were using the maple leaf in their badges. When Canada became a country in 1867, composer Alexander Muir wrote the song “The Maple Leaf Forever.” For several decades, it was considered Canada’s national song.

More Maple Leaves

Canadian penny

When Canada still used pennies, that coin had maple leaves on it. But between 1876 and 1901, the maple leaf appeared on all Canadian coins.

In World War I and World War II, Canada’s fighters wanted a symbol that would remind them of their country, and would show they were different from any other soldiers. They picked the maple leaf.

It was likely that when Canada chose its current red-and-white flag in 1965, people around the world recognized that a maple leaf “means” Canada. The red maple leaf in the middle of the flag is a bold, distinct symbol.

Fur Hats

Hudson’s Bay Company coat of arms

Canada might never have been explored and settled by Europeans if it had not been for the beaver. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, many men in Europe wore top hats. Those hats were made from fur, and Europeans quickly realized that beaver fur was perfect for the job.

Today you know the Hudson’s Bay Company as a department store, but it was originally a fur trading company. In 1678, the company put on its coat of arms not just one beaver, but four of them. This shows how important the animal was to the company.

Stamps, Coins, and More

Canada’s first stamp

Canada’s first postage stamp featured a beaver. Since the stamp cost 3 cents, it became known as the “Three Penny Beaver.” For many years, the Canadian nickel has also had a beaver on it.

Picture of de Havilland Beaver

One of the country’s most famous planes is the de Havilland Beaver. It can land on land, water, or snow, and makes travel to Canada’s wilderness possible.

At outdoor festivals, especially in the winter, be sure to try the sweet treat known as a Beaver Tail. This pastry is shaped like a beaver’s tail and is delicious!

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