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Geography

Geography is the study of places, Earth’s physical features and environmental phenomena. Geographers also examine human populations and their impact on the natural world. This collection from The Canadian Encyclopedia covers a wide range of topics in both physical and human geography. These topics include geographic regions, sustainable development, and Indigenous populations.

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Canadian Shield

The Canadian Shield refers to the exposed portion of the continental crust underlying the majority of North America. The crust, also known as the North American Craton, extends from northern Mexico to Greenland and consists of hard rocks at least 1 billion years old. With the exception of the Canadian Shield, the rocks of the North American Craton are buried deep within the continent and covered by soil and other material. At 5 million km2, the Shield makes up roughly 50 per cent of Canada’s land mass. Shaped like a horseshoe — or the shields carried during hand-to-hand combat — the Canadian Shield extends from Labrador in the east to include nearly all of Québec, much of Ontario and Manitoba, the northern portion of Saskatchewan, the northeast corner of Alberta, much of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut and into the Arctic Archipelago. (It also reaches into parts of the United States, in New York, Wisconsin and Minnesota.) While at times a barrier to settlement, the Shield has also yielded great resources, including minerals, coniferous forests and the capacity for hydroelectric developments.

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Mistaken Point

Mistaken Point was designated as Canada’s 18th World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2016. It is located in southeastern Newfoundland. Mistaken Point is the oldest grouping of large, biologically complex fossilized creatures found anywhere in the world. The fossils date from 580 to 560 million years ago, when large, multicellular organisms began to appear. Mistaken Point was the fifth Canadian fossil site to be recognized by UNESCO, following Dinosaur Provincial Park (1979), Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (1984), Miguasha National Park (1999) and Joggins Fossil Cliffs (2008).

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Geography of Manitoba

Manitoba is divided by three of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These three regions are the Hudson Bay Lowland, the Canadian Shield and the  Interior Plains. Most of Manitoba’s population is concentrated in the southeastern corner of the province, in the Interior Plains physiographic region. This region is also where most of Manitoba’s arable land is located. By comparison, the Hudson Bay Lowland and the Canadian Shield are generally not suitable for agriculture. Churchill, Manitoba’s only saltwater port, is located in the Hudson Bay Lowland. Hydroelectric power, freshwater fishing, metal mines and some forestry are located in the Canadian Shield region.

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Geography of British Columbia

British Columbia is divided by two of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These regions are the Cordillera and the Interior Plains. The vast majority of the province is in the Cordillera region, while the northeast corner is part of the Interior Plains. Within the Cordillera region there are many mountain ranges, including the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains. British Columbia’s wet, coastal climate is also home to some of the tallest coniferous trees in Canada, such as the Douglas fir.