In the broadest sense of the word, energy is a substance’s capacity to do work or produce an effect, such as burning coal to create heat. Canada is home to vast quantities of both renewable (e.g. wind) and non-renewable energy sources (e.g. oil). This collection gathers all of The Canadian Encyclopedia’s articles relating to energy, from various types to the means by which they are sourced.
Pipelines are systems of connected pipes used to transport liquids and gases — namely oil and natural gas — across long distances from source to market. More than 840,000 km of pipelines criss-cross the country, part of a larger oil and gas sector that employs between 100,000 and 200,000 Canadians. According to Natural Resources Canada, the sector earns the government an average of $19 billion in royalties, fees and taxes each year. It also contributes nearly 8 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product. Yet pipelines have also been controversial in Canada over fears that the fossil fuel use they facilitate could be significantly contributing to climate change. In recent years, Indigenous groups, environmentalists, municipalities, mayors and labour unions have opposed numerous pipeline projects they believe could contaminate local waterways through spills and leaks.
In 1970, the Canadian government introduced guidelines for the development of a pipeline corridor south from the Mackenzie River delta to Alberta and the United States. Energy companies have since proposed three separate projects to transport natural gas by pipeline along this route — the Arctic Gas Pipeline, the Foothills Pipeline and the Mackenzie Gas Project — with an oil pipeline likely to follow in the first two cases. However, due to high costs, engineering challenges, environmental concerns, Indigenous land claims and changing markets, none of these pipelines has been built.
Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of maple products, accounting for 71 per cent of the global market. In 2016, Canadian producers exported 45 million kg of maple products, with a value of $381 million. The province of Québec is by far the largest producer, representing 92 per cent of Canadian production. Maple syrup and maple sugar products are made by boiling down the sap of maple trees. World production of maple syrup and sugar is mainly limited to the Maple Belt, the hardwood forest stretching from the midwestern United States through Ontario, Québec and New England and into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island; however, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan also produce some syrup.
Nortel Networks Corporation, or simply Nortel, was a public telecommunications and data networking equipment manufacturer. Founded in 1895 as the Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company, it was one of Canada’s oldest technology companies. Nortel expanded rapidly during the dot-com boom (1997–2001), purchasing many Internet technology companies in a drive to remain competitive in the expanding information technology (IT) market. At its height in 2000, the company represented over 35 per cent of the value of Toronto’s TSE 300 index. It was the ninth most valuable corporation in the world and employed about 94,000 people worldwide at its peak. But Nortel soon entered an extended and painful period of corporate downsizing, and in 2009, the company filed for bankruptcy protection in the largest corporate failure in Canadian history. Shareholders, employees and pensioners suffered losses as a result. Company executives, however, were paid a total US$190 million in retention bonuses between 2009 and 2016. Nortel sold off its assets for a total US$7.3 billion. Those assets were scheduled to be distributed to Nortel’s bondholders, suppliers and former employees in 2017.
The Canadian oil sands (or tar sands) are a large area of petroleum extraction from bitumen, located primarily along the Athabasca River with its centre of activity close to Fort McMurray in Alberta, approximately 400 km northeast of the provincial capital, Edmonton. Increased global energy demand, high petroleum dependency and geopolitical conflict in key oil producing regions has driven the exploration of unconventional oil sources since the 1970s which, paired with advances in the field of petroleum engineering, has continued to make bitumen extraction economically profitable at a time of rising oil prices. Oil sands are called “unconventional” oil because the extraction process is more difficult than extracting from liquid (“conventional”) oil reserves, causing higher costs of production and increased environmental concerns.
Babiche is a type of string traditionally made by Indigenous peoples from rawhide and had multiple uses, such as to lace snowshoes, fishing nets, drumheads and the like. Though typically considered a French Canadian term, babiche is an Algonquian word, loosely translating to “cord” (in Mi’kmaq, ababich) or “thread” (in Ojibwa, assabâbish).
The pulp and paper industry consists of manufacturing enterprises that convert predominantly woody plant material into a wide variety of pulps, papers and paperboards. The Canadian industry began in the 1800s, and has undergone revolutionary changes over the years. Most recently, the move from newsprint to electronic media caused the industry to decline; however, pulp and paper remains a fundamental part of the Canadian economy, especially for remote and northern communities.
Manufacturing is a critical component of Canada’s economy. The production, sale and distribution of finished products contribute to consumer and labour markets, and secure Canada’s position as an economic leader among developed nations. Major, medium-sized and small manufacturers produce goods used by Canadians and contribute to the revenue gained from the export of goods to other countries. Since the early 2000s, the manufacturing sector in Canada has declined significantly in response to changes in the global economy and fewer regulatory controls over Canadian products (see Free Trade; Globalization). The composition and structure of the Canadian manufacturing industry is transitioning in response to these changes, aiming to produce new goods that are in greater demand.
The distilling industry is that part of the food and beverage industries engaged in clarifying, flavouring, blending and aging alcohol to make potable spirits (eg, brandies, grain spirits, rum) and establishments which manufacture ethyl alcohol, whether they are or are not used in potable spirits.
High above the St. Lawrence River, on a hot August day in 1907, a worker named Beauvais was driving rivets into the great southern span of the Quebec Bridge. Near the end of a long day, he noticed that a rivet that he had driven no more than an hour before had snapped clean in two.
The aerospace industry includes the development and production of aircraft, satellites, rockets and their component parts. Aerospace is a major component of Canada's economy, employs tens of thousands of Canadians, and accounts for a large part of Canadian trade with foreign markets. Canada boasts a diverse aerospace sector and is one of just a few countries that produce airplanes. Through close partnership with the United States space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Canada has also launched satellites as well as built sophisticated components used on the International Space Station.