Friday, 31 March 2017

Kicking Off The A to Z Challenge Tomorrow With Fun Facts About Canada, Eh?

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, I’ve decided to learn everything I can about my country—the people who live here, the cultures that make up the fabric of Canadian life, and the innovations and fun facts that demonstrate what an amazing country we live in.

Which is why my A to Z Blogging Challenge theme this year is all about CANADA. In case you’ve never heard of the A to Z Challenge, that’s where thousands of people post a new blog every day throughout April (except Sundays) corresponding with the letters of the alphabet. So, my “A” post starts tomorrow! (And B will be on Monday...the first day of the epic Superman Duffy school tour!)

But first! I’m kicking off today with some fun facts about Canada (eh?)—most of them new to me too!

We made the world’s first $1-million coin.
In 2007, the Royal Canadian Mint issued the world’s first million-dollar coin (it was also named the world’s largest gold coin by Guinness World Records). To date, five of these coins have been bought. I wonder how much they cost!

We eat more Kraft Dinner than people in the U.S.
Yes, Canadians really love instant mac and cheese—which maybe isn’t so surprising given The Barenaked Ladies even referenced KD in their song, “If I Had a Million Dollars.” I admit, if I had a million dollars, I’d probably stock up on KD. (My favourite are the spirals!)

We built the world’s first UFO landing pad.
St. Paul, Alberta, is home to the world’s first landing pad for alien life. The raised cement pad was built in 1967 and was officially opened by then Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer, who is an open, alien-conspiracy theorist. o.O

We never owned Alaska.
It’s a common misconception that Canada “sold” Alaska to the U.S. Not true. Our southern neighbours bought the state from Russia in 1867.

We’re home to the waterfall capital of the world.
The region surrounding Hamilton, Ontario, has more than 100 waterfalls, and is dubbed both “The City of Waterfalls” and “The Waterfall Capital of the World.” It may be a self-made claim, but it’s true. Do a Google search for waterfall capital!

We’re the garter snake capital of the world.
If you’re not scared to see tens of thousands of red-garter snakes, head to the Narcisse Snake Den in Manitoba. For two periods each year, visitors can see “more snakes at a glance than anywhere else in the world,” according to the Government of Manitoba’s website. Yikes! I think I’ll pass.

We’re the world’s largest exporter of lentils.
Quick! Name our top exports! Canola? Oil? Lumber? How about lentils? Yes, Canada exports more lentils than any other nation, producing 17% of the world’s supply and sending most of it to India and Turkey.

We hold an annual bathtub race.
Every July, you can watch—or take part in—the World Championship Bathtub Race in Nanaimo, British Columbia. The annual event started in 1967 and is run by a real organization known as the Loyal Nanaimo Bathtub Racing Society.

We have more doughnut shops per capita than anywhere else in the world.
The doughnut may be commonly considered an American sweet, but it turns out we eat more of the deep-fried treat than anywhere else on the planet.

We supply a third of the world’s French fries.
Thanks to the McCain company, one-third of the world’s French fry supply comes from the small town of Florenceville-Bristol in New Brunswick. Yum!

We have the deepest underground physics lab in the world.
The SNOLAB, located two kilometres underneath the city of Sudbury, is the deepest physics lab on earth. Work in the lab includes experiments about dark matter and research on supernovas. I bet a lot of short stories could be inspired by visiting that lab!

We’re a hotbed for dinosaur research.
One of the world’s richest dinosaur fossil fields is in Alberta’s badlands, and archaeological excavations continue to take place there. The area has been designated as a provincial park (Dinosaur Provincial Park) and an UNESCO World Heritage site. (Hey, did you know that dinosaurs are featured in the Superman Duffy book, TRANSPIRATION?)

How many of those facts did YOU know? Be sure to follow the blog throughout April—starting tomorrow!—for my A to Z posts about CANADA, the greatest country in the world!

Gotta jet!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 24 March 2017

The Author and the Illustrator of the Chase Duffy Books are Going on Tour!

The author and the illustrator of the Chase Superman Duffy educational graphic novels MAY be coming to a school—or city—near you! Dawn Ius and James Grasdal are just finishing up the FINAL book in the series (that makes 16 graphic novels featuring ME!), and to celebrate, they’re hitting the road on a cross Alberta tour, starting in Calgary on April 3.

Dawn and James will be speaking to Grade 5 and 6 students at a number of schools about the importance of literacy, as well as showcasing how they’ve worked together over the past five years to create adventure graphic novels that are not only entertaining, but also highlight some of the important issues facing Alberta’s agriculture industry, particularly for canola producers.

Superman Duffy (AKA: me) has been everywhere—from the past to outer space.He has driven race cars, swam with sea creatures, dug beneath the soil, and flown to a cloud city via a Steampunk shuttle, as well as met some outstanding innovators along the way. But the last book—simply titled “O”—is going to be EPIC! It’s an ode to Canada, in celebration of the country’s 150th birthday. Prepare to be amazed!

In addition to the school visits throughout the province, you might also be able to catch Dawn and James at various libraries and events, such as Aggie Days (April 7) or the Foothills Young Author Conference (April 8). When you see them, say hi for me, okay?

“O” marks the 16th book in the Chase Superman Duffy collection. How many do you have? Your (Alberta) teacher can order a class set by contacting the Alberta Canola Producers’ Commission at 780-454-0844. Perfect in time for Children’s Book Day, April 2!

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 17 March 2017

Pinch Me, It’s St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope you’re wearing green today. If not, there’s a good chance you might get pinched! That’s because today is St. Patrick’s Day—an Irish holiday that recognizes the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.

In Canada—and most parts of the world—St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with shamrocks, leprechauns, and the colour green. (And in some places like New York, a BIG parade!)

One of my classmates—Ryan O’Connor—is Irish, and since I’ve decided to learn about the different people and cultures of my fellow Canadians, I did some research on Ireland and St. Paddy’s Day. Here are my Lucky 7 Facts:
  1. The capital of Ireland is Dublin—and there, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated with a 5-day festival, March 15-19. I bet there is a LOT of green worn during that week! (But, bonus fact, the traditional colour was actually blue, not green!)
  2. In Ireland, people wear shamrocks on their jacks and hats. Girls often wear green ribbons in their hair. If you want to make a paper Shamrock to wear, here’s a template you can print, cut out, and colour.
  3. Leprechauns are a type of fairy in Irish folklore. In the Superman Duffy education comic, CLOUD 9, a leprechaun teaches us about climate change!
  4. According to legend, leprechauns were seen all their time making shoes. Hm. I wonder if that’s where my grandma gets all her shoes from! You should see her closet.
  5. Corn beef and cabbage is a traditional Irish dish, often eaten on St. Patrick’s Day. Yum!
  6. Shamrocks are the most popular symbol of Ireland. It comes from the Irish Gaelic word Seamrog, a word that refers to the plant’s three leaves. (Maybe that’s why finding one with FOUR leaves is so lucky!)
  7. St. Patrick’s Day celebrations take place all over the world. There are even pictures of astronauts celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in SPACE!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Mom always makes us something green for dinner—and it is not broccoli!

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 10 March 2017

“In Like a Lion” and More Weather Lore

B-r-r-r-r. This sudden cold snap has really put a damper on my hopes that spring might be early this year—the end of February (at least in Alberta) was warm, and most of the snow had melted. But it seems like Mother Nature isn’t quite done with winter yet. 

I shouldn’t be surprised. Weather is a pretty big topic in my family since my grandparents are canola farmers and rain, snow, and sunshine have a direct impact on their crop production. But this brisk weather is a cool reminder that weather is unpredictable, despite some go-to resources that some people believe can make accurate predictions.

I’ve talked a lot about the Farmer’s Almanac on my blog before, but this cold in March is making me think about other weather predictors like legends and lore. You probably know the famous saying, "In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.” But is there any truth to it?

Maybe. It’s a little like pinning all your hopes on the groundhog seeing his shadow, though. The truth is, March is the most changeable month. My grandma always says she doesn’t like to travel in March because the weather can change in an instant—and if you look back over the years, that’s so true! So, we can hope that if March starts off stormy that it will end calmly. But mostly, it’s just a rhyme. 

Kind of like these popular sayings:

A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay.
As it rains in March so it rains in June.
March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers.

And of course, this sailor lore (which is featured in the Superman Duffy comic, SHIVER ME TIMBERS): Red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning!

It’s possible the predictions might come true, but there are other factors that come into play as well. 

Maybe I don’t completely believe in weather rhymes—no matter how steeped in lore they seem—but I DO hope that this March goes out like a lamb…and stays like that until late fall! How about you? Are you ready for Spring?

Gotta jet! Have a great weekend—and stay warm!  

~ Chase Superman Duffy