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A Regional Geography of Canada Study Canada 2012

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1 A Regional Geography of Canada Study Canada 2012
David Rossiter Department of Environmental Studies, WWU F H Johnston: Fire Swept – Algoma, 1920

2 “If some countries have too much history, we have too much geography.”
PM W.L. Mackenzie King,1936 Whistler, BC backcountry. Photo: D. Rossiter, 2012

3 Oh, to brag… Second largest country
Canada’s total area: 9,984,670 9,093,507 land 891,163 freshwater. Coastline: 243,042 km Longest in world Resource rich Sparse yet diverse population Source: Statistics Canada


5 Whitehorse Iqaluit Yellowknife St. John’s Edmonton Vancouver Saskatoon Charlottetown Victoria Calgary Winnipeg Fredericton Regina Quebec St. John Halifax Ottawa Montreal Toronto

6 How to make sense of it all?
Physical base Human geography – current patterns Historical geography and political economy Oil Canada: regions, environment, and economy

7 The Physical Base Geology Topography Soils Vegetation Climate
Fundamental to understanding Canada’s human geography and historical development

8 The Late Wisconsin Ice Age
Maximum extent 18,000 years ago Started to recede 15,000 years ago Last remnants in Rockies 7,000 years ago Drumlin – Alberta Glacial valley - Alberta Glacial till and erratic – NS



11 Appalachian Uplands N. Appalachian Mountains
Rounded uplands; narrow river valleys Rocky, shallow soils Mixed forest Cool, maritime climate short summer, wet winter NFLD Coast

12 Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Lowlands
Sedimentary rock and glacial deposits Flat, rolling topography Good soil Moderate climate, good growing season humid and hot summer / cold winter Oak Ridges Moraine – S. Ontario

13 Canadian Shield Geol. core of N.A. Precambrian rocks
> 3 billion yrs old Widespread glaciation shallow soils, exposed granite Mixed and Boreal forest Northern continental climate hot, short summer / cold, long winter North Shore, Quebec

14 Interior Plains Sedimentary rock
Shaped by glacial and hydrological processes river valleys Drain east to Hudson Bay Decent soils in south Oil and gas deposits Continental climate moderate precip. hot summer / cold winter Wheat fields outside Winnipeg, MB South Saskatchewan River

15 Cordillera Formed 40-80 million years ago Glaciers in high alpine
colliding NA and Pac. plates Glaciers in high alpine Fertile river valleys and deltas Mostly coniferous forest Micro-climates warmer, wetter on coast colder, drier in interior Alberta Rockies The Barrier – Coast Mountains

16 Hudson Bay Lowlands Youngest phyiso. reg. in Canada Muskeg
w/ low ridges of sand and gravel Poorly drained low elev., level surface Northern climate maritime influence short summer / long winter Muskeg James Bay delta

17 Arctic Lands ~25% of Canada’s territory
Coastal lowlands & plateaux and mtns. (Innutian) Mainly sedimentary rock w/ permafrost Glaciers still active Areas of polar desert Baffin Island - Nunavut

18 Where are all the people?
Short answer: In cities, near the USA ~80% of Canadians live in cities (100,000+) ~80% of Canadians live within 100km of USA

19 Density by Census Div. (persons /
Population density, 2006 Map source: Atlas of Canada Legend Density by Census Div. (persons / < 0.1 > 150.0 Less than 0.1 Greater than 150.0 Total population, ,476,690 Source: Statistics Canada

20 Major Cities and Productive Agricultural Lands

21 Where are all the people?
Longer answer: All over “Heartland” (cities) draws on resources of “hinterland” north dominated by resource towns and regional service centres

22 Resource Reliant Communities, 2001
Map source: Atlas of Canada Legend 30-100% of income from: Agriculture Energy Fishery Forestry Mining

23 Degree of specialization
Financial Specialization, 1996 Map source: Atlas of Canada Legend Degree of specialization Low to High

24 An historical-geography of Canada’s political economy
in 10 minutes…

25 Three Popular Explanations
Staples Development Canada developed by resource extraction Heartland-hinterland patterns International, national, regional scales Physical disunity (or, unity despite geography) Human settlement in patches, difference from USA

26 Storehouse of Raw Materials?
“Hewers of wood and drawers of water” Early Euro interests more commercial than colonial – fish, fur, timber Settlement through extraction and export Trade with “mother countries” Resources still major economic sector

27 Regional Run-down New France (later Quebec / Lower Canada)
From 17th C: “habitant” agriculture, fur trade, forestry Maritimes (NFLD, Acadia; later NB, NS, PEI) From 17th C: fisheries, lim. ag.; 19th C: forestry NB Upper Canada; later Ontario From 18th C: freehold agriculture; 19th C: manufacturing in south, mining & forestry in north West (“the NW”, the prairies, the cordillera) From 18th C: fur trade; 19th C: mining & forestry in BC, agriculture in prairies

28 Changing Economic Geographies:
From East to West (and back again) in the late-19th C… Source:

29 …to North and South (and all over) in the 20th C.
GM plant – Oshawa, ON

30 Oil Canada

31 Source:

32 Map source:

33 Map source:
Northern Gateway

34 References Many maps and images were obtained at: Other resources:
Other resources: A good atlas of Canada Historical Atlas of Canada, vols. 1-3, University of Toronto Press Heartland and Hinterland, McCann and Gunn Regional Geography of Canada, Bone

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