The Great White North: How Canada Got Its Nickname

Canada is a vast country that stretches across six time zones. It measures 5,500 kilometres from east to west and 4,600 kilometres from north to south, encompassing more than half of the Northern hemisphere. It is recognized as the second-largest country in the world. However, only 0.5% of the world's population lives here. When it comes to Canada's natural beauty and resources, this country can take pride in its majestic peaks. There are several mountain ranges in Canada, including the Laurentian Mountains, Rocky Mountains, and St. Elias Mountains. Besides the varied landscapes, Canada is also famous for its frozen glaciers and abundant wildlife. Its natural beauty has touched the hearts of many individuals, from photographers to campers and hikers. Because of the geographical attractions of Canada, this fantastic country has gained some attributes, including the nickname, Great White North.

The Great White North

Canada is known for many nicknames, and one of the most popular titles of this country is being the Great White North. Although the name has been used for many decades, it is still unknown where it came from and who coined the term first. Here is why Canada got its nickname.


Canada is considered a "Great" country because of its total area, which is approximately 10 million square kilometres. As mentioned earlier, it is the second-largest country in the world. Having an expansive area, it is not surprising that Canada is home to plenty of varied landscapes and seascapes. Some of the amazing facts about this country when it comes to its geographical locations are as follows:

It has the world's longest coastline. One of Canada's sources of pride in having the longest coastline in the world. It measures 243,000 kilometres along the shores of 52, 455 islands. The coast of Canada is bordered on three sides by different oceans, including the Atlantic, Arctic, and the Pacific.

It has the world's largest freshwater. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are famous in Canada. However, they are just two of the million lakes that can be found in this country. It is not that surprising that Canada is also known for having the largest freshwater lake in the world, which is named Lake Superior. It measures 350 miles long, 160 miles wide, and 483 feet deep. The lake's surface area is approximately 31,700 square miles. It has a volume of 2,900 cubic miles.

It has the highest number of lakes in the world. Aside from having the largest freshwater in the world, Canada also takes pride in having the most number of lakes in the world. According to World Atlas, the country holds approximately 60% of the world's lakes. There are 31,752 major lakes in Canada, which is reported by its government. It is also believed that Canada has millions of small lakes. You can find plenty of stunning lakes in Ontario and Manitoba. 

It has 10% of the world's forests. Many people know that Canada has plentiful natural resources and abundant wildlife, which are evident when you explore the country's national or provincial parks. It has an astounding 396.9-million hectares of forests and woodlands, which can be found across the country. Sixty-eight percent of this forest is coniferous. Try to go to Banff National Park in Alberta or Glacier National Park in British Columbia to discover some of Canada's spectacular forests. These places are ideal for landscape photography because there are many scenic spots to find here.


The "White" part in the nickname, Great White North, comes from the geographical fact of Canada having a 580,000 square mile-territory that lies in the Arctic Archipelago. During the winter season, the country receives heavy snowfall. Usually, winter occurs in December, January, and February. However, in the eastern part of Canada, the said season can start as early in November and lasts until March or April. Toronto and Montreal have short winter, while this season is long in Calgary.

The cold weather and winter season in Canada brings delight to many people because it is the perfect time to enjoy a lot of winter activities. Both locals and tourists may try skiing and snowboarding, which can be done in many Canadian locations. There are many skiing resorts in the country which also offers skiing lessons for both beginners and experts. Even photographers can also love the wintertime in Canada because it is an ideal season to take pictures of the country's snowy peaks, frozen lakes, and glacial forests. For winter photography, try to visit Churchill in Manitoba, Niagara Falls in Ontario, and Vancouver Island in British Columbia.


The "North" part in Canada's nickname is derived from its geographical location. Canada, just like the United States, is both found in North America. Canada is located in the northern part of North America, while the United States is situated in the south.


The Great White North is only one of the many nicknames of Canada. Did you know that this country is also coined as Borealia, which means "northern"? The Borealis refers to the aurora borealis (northern lights), which is an incredible light show that can be seen around the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. The aurora borealis occurs because of the collisions between the electrically charged particles. These are released from the sun and then enters the Earth's atmosphere. The particles collide with the gases on Earth, nitrogen and oxygen, causing the light to show in the sky. Many photographers may head to Fort McMurray in Alberta or Whitehorse in Yukon to watch and capture the northern lights.

Being the Great White North and Borealia, Canada has proven its great geographical features ideal not only for photography but also for sports activities. Visiting the country and exploring its beauty can leave anyone in awe. If you want to follow your wanderlust, try to include Canada in your list of must-visit locations. You may never go wrong when you choose this wonderful country.