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How Many Provinces Does Canada Have?

A map of Canada's ten provinces and three territories.
Ottawa, Ontario is the capital of Canada.
Tablet marking the Prime Meridian in Ottawa.
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  • Written By: David White
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Canada is a vast country, with expansive land and many cities and towns and cultures. It is the world's second-largest country, in terms of the total area of land and water within its borders. It is relatively young as a country, however, the country being formed formally only in 1867. There are ten Canadian provinces and three territories that together make up the country as a whole.

The provinces of Canada are Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The territories are the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon Territory. The main difference between a Canadian territory and a province is that a Canadian province derives its powers directly from the Crown, according to the Constitution Act of 1867. Territories get their powers from the Canadian federal government.

The original Canadian provinces are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec. These comprised the Dominion of Canada, which had a central government in the current capital of Ottawa. Three more provinces joined the country during the six years after confederation: Manitoba, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. In 1905, two more, Alberta and Saskatchewan, came on board. The last to join up was Newfoundland and Labrador, in 1949.

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Ontario is the most populous of the provinces of Canada, by a wide margin. Quebec is second in population, and British Columbia and Alberta are third and fourth, respectively. Quebec is often the most contentious of the provinces of Canada because of its large French-speaking population, some of whom want independence from the other, English-speaking, provinces of Canada.

The various Canadian provinces and territories have similarly federated legislative assemblies, although many have different formal names. Seven of them have a Legislative Assembly. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have a House of Assembly. Quebec's head legislative body is called the National Assembly. In all cases, the province or territory has just one legislative house. In contrast, the national government is bicameral.

This idea of provincial and territorial independence extends to economic and cultural activities as well, with each of the Canadian provinces or territories or having its own identity. In western Canada, British Columbia is known as a great tourist mecca, Alberta is known for its oil and natural gas reserves, and Saskatchewan is known for its vast wheat fields. Looking eastward, Manitoba is known for its agriculture and its bison, Ontario is known as being the business hub of the country — specially with the largest city, Toronto — and Quebec is known for being different than the rest of Canada.

Of the coastal provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador is known for its fishing pursuits and its independent heritage. New Brunswick has the largest French presence outside of Quebec, and Port Hardy, one of the largest ports in the country. Nova Scotia is known for its lighthouses and its lobsters. Potatoes are the main claim to fame of Prince Edward Island.

The Canadian territories are relatively wild by comparison, although the Yukon Territory comes the closest to having an urban feel. The gold rush helped drive the population increase in this territory, and the frontier mentality still exists despite the presence of larger cities and shopping malls. The Northwest Territories and Nunavut are vast, icy places with small populations and more old-fashioned lifestyles. Some large cities exist, of course, but they in no way approximate the urban nature of Toronto and Quebec City.

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anon286382
Post 26

I was born and raised in Canada and I've never been expected to speak both English and French, although Quebec does predominately speak French.

anon286381
Post 25

I live in Canada (Winnipeg, Manitoba), and yeah, it's pretty sweet here. Yes it can get kind of cold in the winter (-45 including windchill) but the summers get pretty hot at times too (+45 including humidex). P.S. Winnipeg is an underrated city. It's beautiful.

anon142495
Post 18

There is not an Alberta City. The main cities in Alberta are Calgary and Edmonton. Calgary's known for its cowboy atmosphere and white collar engineering industry, primarily catering to oil and gas and mining worldwide. There is an annual Stampede in calgary which lasts a week and the city is one big party with companies sponsoring free breakfasts and parades.

Edmonton is called the gateway to the north and is primarily manufacturing. (blue collar workers.)

Moderator's reply: The article makes no mention of an Alberta City. Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK.

anon142492
Post 17

Also for your students: Canada has two official languages: French and English. Canadian citizens are expected to be bilingual. We officially use the Metric (SI )measurement but are still versed in the Imperial measurement system. Canadian population is approx 10 percent of the US population. Canada has a universal health care system in place.

anon142488
Post 16

The information provided on this site is extremely basic at best. Please do some more research on the provinces, cities, industries, history as much is outdated and most is very, very thin. Also an overview on how Canada was brought together as a country would be informative.

Moderator's reply: Thank you for visiting wiseGEEK. It is impossible to cover the history of a vast nation like Canada in a 400-word article. However, wiseGEEK does have several other articles about Canada in its archives. You can use the search box at the top of the page to locate them.

Again, thank you for visiting wiseGEEK and for participating in the discussion forum.

anon96729
Post 15

Canada's awesome by the way. i have been there. the best food is peach pie; you should definitely try it! from Rosie

anon93019
Post 14

Interesting. thanks!

anon71444
Post 9

Canada is definitely awesome.

anon60045
Post 7

you rock like crazy, canada!

anon49847
Post 5

canada rules.

anon46304
Post 4

Go canada!

anon43392
Post 3

i would like to visit canada one day.

anon8443
Post 1

This is...pretty cool. I'll come here again

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