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Happy birthday to 0.48 percent of the world’s people

Canada is 156 years old today. But saying we’re a young country is like saying we’re a small country. We’re neither. We’re middle-aged, and with 40 million people, 157 countries are smaller than us and just 36 are larger.

I often say to my superlative-obsessed American friends that we may not be the best country in the world, but we’re easily the luckiest. One big reason is that we share our bed with America. We’re also hard to invade, because we’re so far from anywhere else, except America of course. But hey, if the US can’t have a civil relationship with Canada, who can they have one with?

Sure, we have lots of problems. But we also have a national pension scheme that’s second to none.  While our health-care system is fraying, at least we have one. And parts of it work superlatively: Toronto General is the 4th best hospital in the world, Sick Kids is the world’s top children’s hospital. Which makes living in downtown Toronto another lucky rabbit. Which could be why so many people from outside are immigrating here. Oh, and one reason Canada shot so fast to 40 million people is that we opened our doors to more than a million immigrants a year. Last year, it was 1.05 million, compared to 1.5 million who emigrated to America in 2021 which has 10 times our population.

But the best luck of all is to be born or raised in a country where the odds of getting shot are tiny, the chance of going to university are better than anywhere in the world, and the chance of living a long and useful life are high and rising.

So raise a glass to the slightly paunchy, often hesitant country where “We’re pretty good!” is our national anthem.


1. UFO’s exist! No, really, they do! Maybe. In 2020, the US Department of Defense created the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force. A year later they issued a report citing 144 sightings, “but few conclusions could be drawn because the actual data was limited and difficult to analyse.” Then one of the original task force members, David Grusch, turned whistleblower and told the Debrief that America has been retrieving craft of non-human origin for decades.

Lest you think this is another conspiracy theory, UFO studies are now peer-reviewed, and the biggest, most credible player in the field is Harvard’s Galileo Project, which is “daring to look through new telescopes.”

2. Chopping wood once warms you twice…whether it’s in Tasmania, off the coast of Norway, or on the CBC.

3. Turn Every Page. That’s what Robert Caro’s editor told him at his first newspaper job after college. Here’s why that’s good advice today: In 2001, John Overdeck and David Siegel started the New York quantitative hedge fund Two Sigma Advisers. Today, Two Sigma manages $60 billion, and its founders don’t talk. As Fortune reported, relations are “so strained that the firm took the rare step of citing them as a material risk in a March 31 regulatory filing.” See page 37 “Certain Risks Associated with Management and Governance Challenges.”

4. Best predictor of early death. Smoking? Heart disease? Cancer? Maybe all of them. But the best measure of how long you’ll live is COP, the cardiorespiratory optimal point. As one doctor said: “We have a new player in the game.”

And if you shied away from reading that news, it could be because humans are hard-wired to avoid thinking of our own death. As for reading about death, here are 100 places to see after you die.

5. Why fake news spreads like wildfire, and truth like sludge. The World Economic Forum shows why The Psychology of Pseudoscience is a thing. Fortunately, it seems fake news doesn’t create the online echo chambers we feared.

6. Being gay may not keep you from getting a job. But it will keep you from getting to the top. Pride at Work undertook its first study of how many 2SLGBTQIA+ Canadians are in top executive positions. That number is predictably shocking, just as it was for women and is still for Indigenous Canadians (0.9%). Only 9.2% of large companies have even one non-binary individual in their pipelines to senior management – with actual representation in senior and executive levels being much lower. Read it and weep.

7. Random Acts of Filmed Kindness. These will make you feel better. So will these, even if you’re not that into chess pictures.

8. It’s all in your imagination. If you love imaginary places, there’s a book. But if you love imaginary musical instruments, there’s an online museum.

Speaking of books and death (which we’re doing a lot this week), here’s the slow death of live book tours.

9. Ancient art forms meet modern flight. First, why Japanese calligraphy ink can cost over $1,000. Next, how the Concorde is returning, this time called Overture to fly us to Paris in half the time it takes now. American Airlines has already placed an order for 20 of the new supersonic planes.

10. Go deep in your summer in the city. Among Toronto’s many film festivals is the hot newish Italian Contemporary Film Festival at the Distillery District from June 27 to July 21. This year, soprano and animatrice Lucia Cesaroni has programmed a night (July 14) in three acts called Opera Mash-Up where opera meets film meets a flash mob. Even the thunder will be clapping.

11. What I’m liking. What an Owl Knows, by Jennifer Ackerman, on the new science of the world’s most enigmatic birds. There should be a word for picking up a book on a subject you know nothing about and being riveted by its astounding facts and connections. Like the fact that the Snowy Owl’s very flat-face is shaped like a parabolic dish to focus its hearing on prey hiding beneath the snow below.




If you have the time (Feb. 25 to March 9, 2024) and the money (from $US14,830), you can make that dream come true, have the time of your life, and a lifetime of memories too. So if not you, now, when?

For more information, click here.

Bob Ramsay


Here are the other trips RamsayTravels is hosting in the coming months.

In order of appearance…

October 2-10, 2023 — Bicycling and the Kardamyli Literary Festival in Greece.

May 29-June 5, 2024 — Sail down the west coast of Italy, from Nice and Genoa, to Naples and Amalfi.

September 2-9, 2024 — Lindblad Expedition to the Great Bear Rainforest.

Just e-mail Bob Ramsay at bob@ramsayinc.com if you have questions.

Thanks for coming this far with us.

Bob Ramsay


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