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Physiographic Regions (Plain-Language Summary)

The term physiographic refers to physical geography. There are seven physiographic regions in Canada. These regions are the Canadian Shield, the Western Cordillera, the Canadian Arctic, the Appalachian Region, the Interior Plains, the Hudson Bay Lowlands, and the St. Lawrence Lowlands.

This article is a plain-language summary of physiographic regions. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see the full-length entry, Physiographic Regions.

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Music in Toronto

For much of Toronto’s early history, the dominant cultural force in the predominantly Protestant enclave was church music. By the beginning of the 20th century, Toronto was known as “the choral capital of North America.” By that time, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra were well established. The city has also been an epicentre of piano building, music publishing, and the English-language recording and broadcasting industries. In addition to classical and choral music, Toronto has been a national centre for jazz artists, folk musicians, rock ‘n’ roll bands and R&B and hip hop artists. The city is home to the headquarters of many major record labels and cultural institutions, as well as some of the country’s oldest and best-known concert halls.

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Alberta

Alberta, the westernmost of Canada's three Prairie provinces, shares many physical features with its neighbours to the east, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Rocky Mountains form the southern portion of Alberta's western boundary with British Columbia. Alberta was named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. The province is home to the country’s largest deposits of oil and natural gas.

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Physiographic Regions

Canada may be divided into seven physiographic regions. The Canadian Shield is the largest and oldest of these regions. The other six physiographic regions are younger and form two concentric rings around the Canadian Shield. The outer, older ring contains the Western Cordillera, Canadian Arctic and Appalachian Region. The second, younger ring contains the Interior Plains, Hudson Bay Lowlands and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. These regions may be further sub-divided based on their structure, relief and the presence or absence of permafrost and forest cover (see Natural Regions).

Areas quoted for these regions are the land areas and do not include adjacent continental shelves or bodies of ocean water within Canada's territorial limits. Readers should also note that the abbreviation “masl” stands for “metres above sea level.”

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Arctic Ocean and Canada

The Arctic Ocean is a body of water centered approximately on the north pole. It is the smallest of Earth’s five oceans. Its boundaries are defined by the International Hydrographic Organization, although some other authorities draw them differently. Depending on which definition is used, waters of Canada’s Arctic Archipelago are included as part of the ocean, as are major Canadian bodies of water such as Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay and the Beaufort Sea.

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National Capital Region

The National Capital Region contains the cities of Ottawa, Ontario, and Gatineau, Quebec, as well as parts of their surrounding municipalities. In total, the region covers approximately 4,715 km2. While Ottawa is the capital of Canada by law, the National Capital Region is recognized as the seat of the federal government. A federal agency called the National Capital Commission represents the government for most planning matters in the region, in cooperation with provincial and municipal governments. The entire region is located within the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

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Rupert's Land

Rupert’s Land was a vast territory of northern wilderness. It represented a third of what is now Canada. From 1670 to 1870, it was the exclusive commercial domain of the Hudson’s Bay Company(HBC) and the primary trapping grounds of the fur trade. The territory was named after Prince Rupert, the HBC’s first governor. Three years after Confederation, the Government of Canada acquired Rupert’s Land from the HBC for CAD$1.5-million (£300,000). It is the largest real estate transaction (by land area) in the country’s history. The purchase of Rupert’s Land transformed Canada geographically. It changed from a modest country in the northeast of the continent into an expansive one that reached across North America. Rupert’s Land was eventually divided among Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

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Rocky Mountain Trench

The Rocky Mountain Trench is a long and deep valley extending approximately 1,500 km from the Bitterroot Valley in northwest Montana through British Columbia to the Liard Plain just south of the Yukon Territory. Its predominantly flat floor is 3–20 km wide and ranges in elevation between 600 m and 1,000 m above sea level. With walls made of sedimentary, volcanic and igneous rock, the Trench is sometimes referred to as the “Valley of a Thousand Peaks” because of the towering mountain ranges on either side: the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Columbia, Omineca and Cassiar mountains to the west. Humans have relied on the rich resources provided by this distinctive landscape from pre-colonial times to the present.

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Nova Scotia and Confederation

Nova Scotia was one of the four founding provinces of Canada. It joined New BrunswickOntario and Quebec in Confederation on 1 July 1867. However, this was mainly because Confederation delivered the Intercolonial Railway to the Maritimes, and because of the efforts of Sir Charles Tupper. His government passed approval for Confederation in the colonial legislature despite popular opposition. (See Confederation’s Opponents.) Confederation was met with mass protests in the colony. Joseph Howe led a two-year effort to repeal the union. (See Repeal Movement.) But Howe finally decided he could do more to help his province by working inside the federal government. He joined the federal Cabinet in 1869.

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Yukon River

At 3,185 km (1,149 km of which lie in Canada), the Yukon River is the fifth-longest river in North America.

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National Parks of Canada

Canada’s national parks are protected areas established under federal legislation to preserve Canada’s natural heritage. They are administered by Parks Canada, a government agency that evolved from the world’s first national parks service, the Dominion Parks Branch, established in 1911. The National Parks System Plan, developed in 1970, divided Canada into 39 natural regions and set the goal of representing each region with at least one national park. Canada now has 48 national parks and national park reserves in 30 of these regions. In total, the parks cover more than 340,000 km2, which is over 3 per cent of Canada’s landmass. They protect important land and marine habitats, geographical features and sites of cultural significance. National parks also benefit local economies and the tourism industry in Canada.

(This is the full-length entry about National Parks of Canada. For a plain-language summary, please see National Parks of Canada (Plain-Language Summary).)

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Château Ramezay

Château Ramezay, in Old Montréal, was the first building to be designated a historic monument by the government of Québec, in 1929. Recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1949, it is now a museum with permanent collections and temporary exhibits where visitors can learn about over 500 years of Montréal’s history.

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British Columbia

British Columbia is Canada's most westerly province, and is a mountainous area whose population is mainly clustered in its southwestern corner. BC is Canada’s third-largest province after Québec and Ontario, making up 10 per cent of Canada’s land surface. British Columbia is a land of diversity and contrast within small areas. Coastal landscapes, characterized by high, snow-covered mountains rising above narrow fjords and inlets, contrast with the broad forested upland of the central interior and the plains of the northeast. The intense "Britishness" of earlier times is referred to in the province's name, which originated with Queen Victoria and was officially proclaimed in 1858.

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Africville

Africville was an African-Canadian village located just north of Halifax and founded around the mid-19th century. The City of Halifax demolished the once-prosperous seaside community in the 1960s in what many said was an act of racism. The mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality apologized for the action in 2010. For many people, Africville represents the oppression faced by Black Canadians, and the efforts to right historic wrongs.

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Red River Resistance

The Red River Resistance (also known as the Red River Rebellion) was an uprising in 1869–70 in the Red River Colony. The resistance was sparked by the transfer of the vast territory of Rupert’s Land to the new Dominion of Canada. The colony of farmers and hunters, many of them Métis, occupied a corner of Rupert’s Land and feared for their culture and land rights under Canadian control. The Métis mounted a resistance and declared a provisional government to negotiate terms for entering Confederation. The uprising led to the creation of the province of Manitoba, and the emergence of Métis leader Louis Riel — a hero to his people and many in Quebec, but an outlaw in the eyes of the Canadian government.

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Norman Wells

Norman Wells, Northwest Territories, incorporated as a town in 1992, population 673 (2021 census), 778 (2016 census). The town of Norman Wells is located on the north bank of the Mackenzie River, 145 km south of the Arctic Circle and 684 km northwest of Yellowknife by air. It was the first settlement in the Northwest Territories founded entirely as a result of non-renewable-resource development. The name owes to the site’s close proximity to Fort Norman (now Tulita), 85 km upstream on the Mackenzie.

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Naujaat

Naujaat, Nunavut, incorporated as a hamlet in 1978, population 1,225 (2021 census), 1,082 (2016 census). The hamlet of Naujaat is located on the north shore of Repulse Bay, which is on the south shore of the Rae Isthmus. For a period of time, Naujaat was known as Repulse Bay.