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GEOGRAPHY OF CANADA. Social Studies 10 Chapter 3 & 8 Canadian Geography & Economy. CANADA: A REGIONAL GEOGRAPHY What regions are evident?. Physical Regions. Economic Regions. Climate. Political Regions. Five Themes of C anada’s G eography. Location: relative and absolute

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Social Studies 10

Chapter 3 & 8

Canadian Geography & Economy

CANADA: A REGIONAL GEOGRAPHYWhat regions are evident?

Physical Regions

Economic Regions


Political Regions

Five Themes of Canada’s Geography

  • Location: relative and absolute

  • Place: human and physical

  • Human and Environment Interactions: adaptation, modification, dependence

  • Movement: migration and transportation

  • Regions: consistent, focused, aligned, linked

Theme 1: Location

  • Two Types of Location

  • Absolute

  • Relative

  • Where is It?

  • Why is It There?

Absolute Location

  • A specific place on the Earth’s surface

  • Uses a grid system

  • Latitude and longitude

  • A global address

British Columbia

Absolute Location

  • BC

    54° N Latitude

    125° W longitude

  • Vancouver

    49° 25' N Latitude

    123° 10' W Longitude

Relative Location

  • Where a place is in relation to another place

  • Uses directional words to describe

  • Cardinal and intermediate directions

British Columbia

  • British Columbia is bordered by Yukon in the north, Washington and Idaho tothe south, and Alberta on the west.

  • The Pacific Ocean forms British Columbia's west coast.

  • British Columbia is one of the western provinces

Theme 2: PlacePhysical Characteristics

  • Land Features

  • Mountains, plains, and plateaus

  • Climate

  • Bodies of Water

British Columbia: Physical Characteristics

Photos above: Steve Pierce

Theme 2: PlaceHuman Characteristics

  • People

  • Culture

  • Language

  • Religion

  • Buildings and Landmarks

  • Cities

British Columbia: Human Characteristics

National Geographic Magazine

Top right:

Theme 3: Human Environment Interaction

How People Interact With Their Environment

People . . .

  • Adapt to Their Environment

  • Modify Their Environment

  • Depend on Their Environment

British Columbia: Human Environment Interaction

Theme 4: Movement

The Mobility of

  • People

  • Goods

  • Ideas

    How Places are linked to one another and the world

British Columbia: Movement

Theme 5: Regions

What Places Have in Common

  • Political Regions

  • Landform Regions

  • Agricultural Regions

  • Cultural Regions

British Columbia: Regions

Steve Pierce

Canada: Territorial template over Satellite Photo Composite

Divisions and Places

Placing the Canadian map

Political divisions: provinces and territories

Fundamentals of Physical Geography

  • Geology-process, structure, time

  • Topography-relief, slope

  • Soils-texture, pH, organic matter

  • Vegetation-water, arboreal, ecotone

  • Climate-air mass, current, precipitation, temperature, system

Underlying Geology

  • Pink: Precambrian granites

  • Green: younger sediments

  • Yellow: faulted and meta-morphasizedsediments

  • Blue: older sediments

Glacial Legacy

  • Wisconsin-last ice age, maximum 18,000 yrs. BP

  • Southern limits-Wisconsin and Ohio Valley

  • Recedes-15,000-7,000 yrs. BP

  • Covers virtually all of Canada and northern US

  • Ice free corridor from Alaska through Yukon into northern BC

Remnant Glacial Landscapes

  • Ice margin

  • End moraine

  • Glacial lakes

  • Spillways

  • Kettle lakes

  • Eskers

  • Drumlins

  • Till plain

  • Erratic

Glacial Till and Erratic


Drumlin and Drumlin Field

Glacial lake Louise and Paternoster Lakes

St. Lawrence Lowlands

  • Less than 2% of landmass; smallest region

  • Windsor to Quebec City

  • Sedimentary geology with glacial deposits

  • Moderate climate

  • Fertile soils

  • Long growing season

  • Close to the US

  • Canadian HEARTLAND

French Canadian ‘long lot’ farms and Niagara Falls

The Great Lakes and Ottawa

Toronto Climate

Canadian Shield

  • 50% of Canada’s landmass; largest region

  • Almost entirely contained in Canada

  • Geological core underlies North America

  • Precambrian rocks more than 3 billion yrs.

  • Exposed granite and shallow soils

  • Glaciation evident

  • Mixed Boreal forest

  • Northern continental climate

Canadian shield vistas

Ste. AgatheClimate

Appalachian Uplands

  • Over 2% of landmass

  • Northern part of Appalachians

  • Rounded uplands and plateaux

  • Numerous islands along drowned shoreline

  • Narrow river valleys

  • Rocky, shallow soils

  • Mixed forests

  • Cool maritime climate

  • Short summer wet, winter

Interior Farms and Forests, Coastal Settlements

Fredericton, NB

Hudson Bay Lowlands

  • Over 3.5% landmass

  • Muskeg or wet peat lands

  • Many lakes

  • Low ridges of sand and gravel

  • Poorly drained

  • Level

  • Northern climate

  • Maritime influence

  • Short, warm summer

  • Long, cold winter

MoosoneeClimate Graph and Hudson Bay Lowland Vista

Interior Plains

  • About 20% land mass

  • Geologic base of sedimentary rock

  • Shaped by glaciation and re-directed drainage

  • Incised river valleys

  • Slopes up from east to west with rich soils

  • Hudson’s Bay watershed

  • Oil and gas deposits

  • Continental climate

  • Moderate to low precipitation

Plains Agriculture and Regina Climate Graph


  • Region of intra-regional differences

  • About 16% of land mass

  • Formed 40-80 million years ago from collision of North American and Pacific Plates

  • Rockies up thrust sediments

  • Coastal mountains volcanic: ‘ring of fire’

  • Glaciers remain in Alpine areas

  • Fertile valleys and deltas

  • Coniferous

  • Multiple micro-climates

Mountains and Valleys

Banff and Victoria Climate Graphs

Arctic Lowlands

  • About 13% land mass

  • Coastal plains and lowlands

  • Islands and drowned shorelines

  • Sedimentary

  • Permafrost

  • Frost action is the main geomorphic process

  • Polar desert with very low precipitation

  • Extreme arctic climate conditions

Iqaluit Climate Graph and Arctic Lowlands Gista

Innuitian Mountains

  • About 12% land mass

  • Plateaux and mountains

  • Extreme glaciation and extensive weathering of sedimentary rock

  • Extensive coastal drowning and fjiords

  • Islands

  • Uplifting and isostatic rebound

  • Extreme cold

  • Pack ice and ice flows

  • Glacier calving

Arctic Mountain Scenery and Resolute Climate Graph

Drainage: Well Drained South; Poorly Drained North


  • Continental and maritime influences

  • Prevailing winds

  • Jet stream

  • Mountain effects

  • Air masses

  • Freezing point

  • Seasonal variability

  • Precipitation

  • Cloud cover

  • Evaporation

LACSAPOOPA- Climate Factors

L- Latitude: North or South from Equator.

A- Altitude: 1.5 degrees Celsius /100 meters.

C- Clouds: Types and cover.

S- Seasons: 4, 2, 1.

A- Aspect: North or South facing.

P- Prevailing Winds: Westerlies, Easterlies, Trades.

O- Ocean Proximity: Maritime versus Continental.

O- Ocean Currents: Prevailing currents

P- Pressure Systems: Highs & Lows.

A- Albedo: Snow, water, ground and reflection.

Where are the people? Population Distribution

  • In cities near the USA

  • 80% in cities over 100,000

  • 80% within 100km of the US border

  • ‘main street Canada’: Windsor to Quebec City

  • Agricultural western interior

  • Coastal and river valley settlement in Atlantic region

  • Resource points in the Shield and the North

  • Western cordillera valleys and the BC coast

Canada CMAs and Population Change, 1996-2001

Canada’s Urban and Agricultural settlement Archipelago

  • Pattern set over 100 years ago

  • Islands of population and settlement amid a vast, inhospitable and often empty land

  • Contrast between heartland and hinterland

  • Regional centers

  • Hugging the border

  • The empty north

The People, Place, Region Relationship

  • Canada has always had urban centers where most people lived and worked

  • Urban centers were surrounded by a rural sphere to constitute the heartland

  • Beyond the rural lands, towns and villages, a sparsely populated resource extraction periphery or hinterland extended to the farthest reaches of the country

  • With transportation advances people moved to the commuting suburbs of cities

Three Popular Canadian Explanations and One Not So Popular Bilateral Explanation

Canada as a Storehouse of Raw Materials: Old and New explanations

Fisheries, then and now: Historic Grand Banks; Pacific Salmon catch and Prospects

Fur Trade Legacy

Renewable Forestry

Agricultural Potential

Agricultural Production

Minerals and Mining

Mining Potential


Metropolitan Heartland

  • “Main Street Canada”

  • Red area is continuous urban ribbon

  • Green area is adjacent commuter shed and integrated use region

  • Toronto and Montreal metropolitan cores linked to other growth centers along the spine

BC Lower Mainland and Calgary-Edmonton Corridor

Financial Services

CN and CP Railway Systems

Airports and Airport Authorities

Ethnic Diversity

Ethnic “Minorities” in Cities

  • Toronto: Canada’s cosmopolitan leader

  • Allophones in Montreal

  • Asian populations expand in most cities

  • Black populations in most Canadian cities but predominate in east

  • Aboriginal populations growing in all urban centers

Canada’s Regional Character: Socio-Economic Regions Shaped By

Shape affected by:

  • Heartland/Hinterlands relations

  • Confluence of political, cultural and social dynamics=regional identity

  • Proximity of the US

Meshing Physiography and Human Geography to comprehend Canada’s Regions

Canada’s Regions Map

  • North and south distinguished

  • Settlement and urbanization acknowledged

  • Cultures recognized

  • Political divisions sustained

  • Traditional aggregates

Placing Canada into Temporal and Geographical Context

  • 1000s of years of indigenous human presence

  • European contact over centuries: late 15th to 19th

  • European re-settlement by force, treaty, depopulation (disease)

  • Historical geography matters socially, politically and ecologically

  • Map shows Canada at Confederation

Canada in Global Context (Globalization Index)

Current “Geographical” Issues

  • Native land claims: British Columbia, the North, creation of Nunavut

  • Environmental crises: energy, climate change, forest degradation

  • Borders: US, Arctic

  • Federal/Provincial: the national/regional power balancing act, fiscal control

  • City growth and expansion: newcomers, transportation, crime, planning

Key words and Concepts

Geography Basics

  • Adaptation

  • Human and environment interaction

  • Location

  • Place

  • Province

  • Region

  • Territorial template

  • Territory

Physical Geography

  • Air mass

  • Alpine

  • Appalachian

  • Archipelago

  • Arctic Lowlands

  • Boreal

  • Canadian Shield

  • Continental climate

  • Cordilleran

  • Drainage system

  • Drumlin

  • Drowned shoreline

  • End moraine

Physical Geography (cont.)

  • Erratic

  • Esker

  • Fjiord

  • Glacial lake

  • Glaciation

  • Glacier calving

  • Hudson Bay Lowlands

  • Ice free corridor

  • Incised valley

  • Innuitian

  • Interior Plains

  • Isostatic rebound

  • Jetstream

  • Kettle lake

  • Maritime climate

  • Micro-climate

  • Muskeg

  • Pack ice

  • Paternoster lakes

  • Peatlands

  • Permafrost

  • Physiographic region

  • Plant hardiness zone

  • Polar desert

  • Precambrian

Physical Geography (cont.)

  • Relief

  • ‘Ring of Fire’

  • Sedimentary

  • Spillway

  • St. Lawrence Lowlands

  • Topography

  • Till plain

  • Wisconsin glaciation

    Human Geography

  • Aboriginal

  • Agri-food

  • Airport authority

  • Allophone

  • Borderland relationship

  • Borders

  • CMA

  • CN and CP

  • Commuter shed

  • Climate change

  • Corridor

  • Confederation

  • Cultural identity

  • European contact

  • Energy crisis

  • Ethnic diversity

  • Ethnic minority

  • Federal/Provincial issues

Human Geography (cont.)

  • Forest heritage

  • Fur trade

  • Global linkages

  • Global relationships

  • Globalization Index

  • Grand Banks

  • Heartland/Hinterland

  • Indigenous

  • ‘Main Street Canada’

  • Metropolitan core

  • Mineral lease

  • Native land claims

  • Oil pipeline

  • Physical disunity

  • Population density

  • Resource extraction periphery

  • Resource points

  • Rural sphere

  • Staples development

  • Suburban area

  • Urban center


  • Adams, Michael, Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values. Toronto: penguin, 2003.

  • Bone, Robert M. The Regional Geography of Canada. Don Mills: Oxford, 2005.

  • Lemon, James T. Liberal Dreams and Nature’s Limit: Great Cities of North America Since 1600. Toronto: Oxford, 1996.

  • Lipset, Seymour M. Continental Divide: The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada. New York: Routledge, 1990.

  • McCann, L. D., ed., A Geography of Canada: Heartland and Hinterland. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall, 1982 (several later editions).

  • Warkentin, John, Canada: A Regional Geography. Scarborough: Prentice-Hall, 1997.

  • Many maps and images may be obtained at the following websites as well as through search engines:


  • Any comprehensive atlas of Canada is an asset

  • See also, Historical Atlas of Canada. 3 volumes. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

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