June 21, 2011 |by Candice Walsh | 0 Comments
Watch Out for the Prairie Rattlesnakes
I mentioned in a previous post that the Canadian prairies held a lot of surprises during my cross-Canada trip, especially with its endearing sunsets and wide-open stretches. When discussing these highlights with people, the results were amusing: some found the expanse of prairieland to be claustrophobic, while others felt it was liberating. It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess.
Here are some more fun facts about the prairies to help YOU put it in better perspective, especially when it comes down to ancient history.
1. The Great Plains ecosystem to which the prairies belong actually contains four types of grasslands: the mixed grass, the fescue, the short grass and the tall grass. We’re sure you can figure those out.
2. There are actually venomous snakes in the Canadian prairies known as “prairie rattlesnakes.” Yeah, I was actually alarmed to learn this, especially since I had added “frolic in a wheat field” to my bucket list.
3. The prairies were explored by the Europeans earlier than you think. There’s some evidence that as early as the 1730s, a family of French explorers visited Lake Winnipeg, the Red River, the Assiniboine River, and the Saskatchewan River.
4. A rock plateau known as the Canadian Shield covers two-thirds of Manitoba. That’s a lot of rock.
5. In Manitoba, a town named Gladstone goes by the nickname “Happy Rock” because of its huge, monumental rock with a giant happy face on it. Seriously.
6. In certain places during the year, you can see the Northern Lights from the prairies.
7. If you head far north to Churchill in Manitoba, you can participate in a polar bear expedition...but it’ll take you nearly 50 hours to get there by train.
8. Some of the world’s oldest fossils have been found in the Alberta Badlands. At the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, awesome displays of dinosaur sculptures and a Prehistoric garden allows visitors to get up close and personal with the wonderful world of these giants (pre-extinction, of course).
9. 100 to 60 million years ago, the prairies were once an inland ocean. Here in the Late Cretaceous Period, prehistoric sea creatures mingled with dinosaurs, crocodiles, sharks, fish, birds, and more.
Know any other interesting facts? We’d love to hear them!