Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world’s second-largest country by total area and the fourth-largest country by land area. Canada’s border with the United States is the world’s longest land border. Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land territory being dominated by forest and tundra and the Rocky Mountains; about four-fifths of the country’s population of 37 million people live near the southern border. The majority of Canada has a cold or severely cold winter climate, but southerly areas are warm in summer.
The land now called Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the 15th century, British and French colonies were established on the Atlantic coast, with the first establishment of a region called “Canada” occurring in 1537. As a consequence of various conflicts, the United Kingdom gained and lost territories within British North America until left, in the late 18th century, with what mostly geographically comprises Canada today. Pursuant to the British North America Act, on July 1, 1867, the colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia joined to form the autonomous federal Dominion of Canada. This began an accretion of provinces and territories to the self-governing Dominion to the present ten provinces and three territories forming modern Canada. In 1931, Canada achieved near total independence from the United Kingdom with the Statute of Westminster 1931, and full sovereignty was attained when the Canada Act 1982 removed the last remaining ties of legal dependence on the British parliament.
Canada is a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II being the head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. It is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. Its advanced economy is the eleventh largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada’s long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
Canada is a developed country and has the tenth highest nominal per capita income globally, and the ninth highestranking in the Human Development Index. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. Canada is a Commonwealth Realm member of the Commonwealth of Nations, a member of the Francophonie, and part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the G8, the Group of Ten, the G20, the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Alberta is a western province of Canada. With an estimated population of 4,196,457 as of July 1, 2015,it is Canada’s fourth-most populous province and the most populous of Canada’s three prairie provinces. Alberta and its neighbour Saskatchewan were districts of the Northwest Territories until they were established as provinces on September 1, 1905. The premier has been Rachel Notley since May 2015.
Alberta is bounded by the provinces of British Columbia to the west and Saskatchewan to the east, the Northwest Territories to the north, and the US state of Montana to the south. Alberta is one of three Canadian provinces and territories to border only a single US state and one of only two landlocked provinces. It has a predominantly humid continental climate, with stark contrasts over a year but seasonal temperature average swings are smaller than to areas further east, due to winters being warmed by occasional chinook winds bringing sudden warming.
Alberta’s capital, Edmonton, is near the geographic centre of the province and is the primary supply and service hub for Canada’s crude oil, oil sands (Athabasca oil sands) and other northern resource industries.
About 290 km (180 mi) south of the capital is Calgary, the largest city in Alberta. Calgary and Edmonton centre Alberta’s two census metropolitan areas, both of which have populations exceeding one million, while the province has 16 census agglomerations.Tourist destinations in the province include Banff, Canmore, Drumheller, Jasperand Sylvan Lake.
British Columbia, also commonly referred to by its initials BC, is a province located on the west coast of Canada. British Columbia is also a component of the Pacific Northwest and the Cascadia bioregion, along with the US statesof Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Alaska The province’s name was chosen in 1858 by members of the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1871, it became the sixth province of Canada. Its Latin motto is Splendor sine occasu (“Splendour without Diminishment”).
The capital of British Columbia is Victoria, the fifteenth-largest metropolitan region in Canada, named for the Queenwho created the Colony of British Columbia. The largest city is Vancouver, the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, the largest in Western Canada, and the second-largest in the Pacific Northwest. In October 2013, British Columbia had an estimated population of 4,606,371 (about 2.5 million of whom were in Greater Vancouver). The province is currently governed by the BC Liberal Party, led by Premier Christy Clark, who became leader as a result of a leadership convention vote on February 26, 2011, and who led her party to an election victory on May 14, 2013.
British Columbia evolved from British possessions that were established in what is now British Columbia by 1871. First Nations, the original inhabitants of the land, have a history of at least 10,000 years in the area. Today there are few treaties and the question of Aboriginal Title, long ignored, has become a legal and political question of frequent debate as a result of recent court actions. Notably, the Tsilhqot’in Nation has established Aboriginal title to a portion of their territory, as a result of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision (Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia).
B.C.’s economy is diverse, with service producing industries accounting for the largest portion of the province’s GDP. It is the endpoint of transcontinental railways, and the site of major Pacific ports that enable international trade. Though less than 5% of its vast 944,735 km2 (364,764 sq mi) land is arable, the province is agriculturally rich, (particularly in the Fraser and Okanagan valleys), because of milder weather near the coast and in certain sheltered southern valleys. Its climate encourages outdoor recreation and tourism, though its economic mainstay has long been resource extraction, principally logging, farming, and mining. Vancouver, the province’s largest city and metropolitan area, also serves as the headquarters of many western-based natural resource companies. It also benefits from a strong housing market and a per capita income well above the national average. While the coast of British Columbia and certain valleys in the south-central part of the province have mild weather, the majority of its land mass experiences a cold-winter-temperate climate similar to that of the rest of Canada. The Northern Interiorregion has a subarctic climate with very cold winters. The climate of Vancouver is by far the mildest winter climate of the major Canadian cities, with nighttime January temperatures averaging above the freezing point.
Manitoba is a province located at the longitudinal centre of Canada. It is one of the three prairie provinces and is the fifth-most populous province in Canada. Manitoba covers an area of 649,950 square kilometres (250,900 sq mi) with a widely varied landscape. The province is bordered by the provinces of Ontario to the east and Saskatchewan to the west, the territory of Nunavut to the north, and the US states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south.
Aboriginal peoples have inhabited what is now known as Manitoba for thousands of years. In the late 17th century, fur traders first arrived in the area when it was part of Rupert’s Land and owned by the Hudson’s Bay Company. In 1867, negotiations for the creation of the province of Manitoba resulted in an armed uprising of the Métis people against the Government of Canada, a conflict known as the Red River Rebellion. The resolution of the rebellion led to the Parliament of Canada passing the Manitoba Act in 1870, officially creating the province of Manitoba.
Manitoba’s capital and largest city, Winnipeg, is Canada’s eighth-largest Census Metropolitan Area. Winnipeg is the seat of government, home to the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba and the Provincial Court. Four of the province’s five universities and all four of its professional sports teams are located in Winnipeg. Other cities in the province are Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach, Thompson, Winkler, Selkirk, Dauphin, Morden, and FlinFlon.
New Brunswick (French: Nouveau-Brunswick is one of Canada’s three Maritime provinces and is the only constitutionally bilingual (English–French) province.It was created as a result of the partitioning of the British Colony of Nova Scotia in 1784. Fredericton is the capital, Moncton is the largest metropolitan (CMA) area and Saint John is the most populous city. In the 2011 nationwide census, Statistics Canada estimated the provincial population to have been 751,171. The majority of the population is English-speaking, but there is also a large Francophone minority (33%), chiefly of Acadian origin. The flag features a ship superimposed on a yellow background with a yellow lion passant guardant above it.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is the most easterly province of Canada. Situated in the country’s Atlantic region, it comprises the island of Newfoundland and mainland Labrador to the northwest, with a combined area of 405,212 square kilometres (156,500 sq mi). In 2013, the province’s population was estimated at 526,702. About 92% of the province’s population lives on the island of Newfoundland (and its neighbouring smaller islands), of whom more than half live on the Avalon Peninsula. The province is Canada’s most linguistically homogeneous, with 97.6% of residents reporting English (Newfoundland English) as their mother tongue in the 2006 census. Historically, Newfoundland was also home to unique varieties of French and Irish, as well as the extinct Beothuk language. In Labrador, local dialects of Innu-aimun and Inuktitut are also spoken.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital and largest city, St. John’s, is Canada’s 20th-largest census metropolitan area, and is home to almost 40 percent of the province’s population. St. John’s is the seat of government, home to the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador and to the highest court in the jurisdiction, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal.
A former colony then dominion of the United Kingdom, Newfoundland and Labrador became the tenth province to enter the Canadian Confederation on March 31, 1949, as “Newfoundland”. On December 6, 2001, an amendmentwas made to the Constitution of Canada to change the province’s official name to Newfoundland and Labrador. In day-to-day conversation, however, Canadians generally still refer to the province itself as Newfoundland and that part of it on the Canadian mainland as Labrador.
Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s three Maritime provinces, and one of the four provinces which form Atlantic Canada. Its provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the second-smallest province in Canada, with an area of 55,284 square kilometres (21,300 sq mi), including Cape Breton and another 3,800 coastal islands. As of 2011, the population was 921,727, making Nova Scotia the second-most-densely populated province in Canada with almost 20 inhabitants per square kilometre (52/sq mi).
Nova Scotia means New Scotland in Latin and is the recognized English language name for the province. In Scottish Gaelic, the province is called Alba Nuadh, which also simply means New Scotland. The province was first named in the 1621 Royal Charter granting the right to settle lands including modern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and the Gaspé Peninsula to Sir William Alexander in 1632.
Nova Scotia is Canada’s second-smallest province in area after Prince Edward Island. The province’s mainland is the Nova Scotia peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, including numerous bays and estuaries. Nowhere in Nova Scotia is more than 67 km (42 mi) from the ocean. Cape Breton Island, a large island to the northeast of the Nova Scotia mainland, is also part of the province, as is Sable Island, a small island notorious for its shipwrecks,approximately 175 km (110 mi) from the province’s southern coast.
Nova Scotia has long been a destination for paleontologists and other scientists as the province has many ancient fossil-bearing rock formations. These formations are particularly rich on the shores of the Bay of Fundy. Joggins Fossil Cliffs, located on the Bay of Fundy’s shores, has yielded an abundance of Carboniferous age fossils. Wasson’s Bluff, located near the town of Parrsboro, has yielded both Triassic and Jurassic age fossils. Laws in Nova Scotia prohibit the removal of fossils from these sites without the possession of a permit.
Nova Scotia lies in the mid-temperate zone. Since the province is almost entirely surrounded by the sea, the climate is closer to maritime than to continental climate. The winter and summer temperature extremes of the continental climate are moderated by the ocean some of the time, however it can still get heat waves.However, winters are still cold enough to be classified as continental – still being nearer the freezing point than inland areas to the west. The Nova Scotia climate is in many ways similar to that being found around the central Baltic Sea coast in Northern Europe, only wetter and snowier. This is in spite of Nova Scotia being some fifteen parallels south. Areas not on the Atlantic coast experience warmer summers more typical of inland areas, and winter lows a little colder.
Described on the provincial vehicle-licence plate as Canada’s Ocean Playground, Nova Scotia is surrounded by four major bodies of water: the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to the north, the Bay of Fundy to the west, the Gulf of Maine to the southwest, and Atlantic Ocean to the east.
Nunavut is the newest, largest, northernmost, and least populous territory of Canada. It was separated officially from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999, via the Nunavut Actand the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act,though the boundaries had been contemplatively drawn in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada’s political map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1949.
Nunavut comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Its vast territory makes it the fifth-largest country subdivision in the world, as well as the second-largest in North America (after Greenland). The capital Iqaluit (formerly “Frobisher Bay”) on Baffin Island in the east, was chosen by the 1995 capital plebiscite. Other major communities include the regional centres of Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island to the far north, as well as the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west and Akimiski Island in James Bay far to the southeast of the rest of the territory. It is the only geo-political region of Canada that is not connected to the rest of North America by highway.
Nunavut is both the least populous and the largest in area of the provinces and territories of Canada. One of the most remote, sparsely settled regions in the world, it has a population of 31,906, mostly Inuit, spread over a land area of just over 1,750,000 km2 (680,000 sq mi), the size of Western Europe. Nunavut is also home to the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, Alert. A weather station farther down Ellesmere Island, Eureka, has the lowest average annual temperature of any weather station in Canada.
Nunavut covers 1,877,787 km2 (725,018 sq mi) of land and 160,935 km2 (62,137 sq mi) of water in Northern Canada. The territory includes part of the mainland, most of the Arctic Archipelago, and all of the islands in Hudson Bay, James Bay, and Ungava Bay (including the Belcher Islands), which belonged to the Northwest Territories. This makes it the fifth largest subnational entity (or administrative division) in the world. If Nunavut were a country, it would rank 15th in area.
Nunavut has land borders with the Northwest Territories on several islands as well as the mainland, Manitoba to the south of the Nunavut mainland, Saskatchewan to the southwest (at a single four-corner point), and a small land border with Newfoundland and Labrador on Killiniq Island and with Ontario in two small locations in James Bay: the larger located west of Akimiski Island and the smaller around the Albany River near Fafard Island. It also shares maritime borders with Greenland and the provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba.
Nunavut’s highest point is Barbeau Peak (2,616 m (8,583 ft)) on Ellesmere Island. The population density is 0.015 persons/km2 (0.006 persons/sq mi), one of the lowest in the world. By comparison, Greenland has approximately the same area and nearly twice the population. Nunavut experiences a polar climate in most regions, owing to its high latitude and lower continental summertime influence than areas to the west. In more southerly continental areas very cold subarctic climates can be found, due to July being slightly milder than the required 10 °C (50 °F).
Ontario is one of the ten provinces of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada’s most populous province by a large margin, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all Canadians, and is the second largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation’s capital city, Ottawa, and the nation’s most populous city, Toronto.
Ontario is bordered by the province of Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, and Quebecto the east, and to the south by the US states of (from west to east) Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. All of Ontario’s 2,700 km (1,678 mi) border with the United States follows inland waterways: from the west at Lake of the Woods, eastward along the major rivers and lakes of the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence River drainage system. These are the Rainy River, the Pigeon River, Lake Superior, the St. Mary’s River, Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence River from Kingston, Ontario, to the Quebec boundary just east of Cornwall, Ontario.
Ontario is sometimes conceptually divided into two regions, Northern Ontario and Southern Ontario. The great majority of Ontario’s population and arable land is located in the south. In contrast, the larger, northern part of Ontario is sparsely populated with cold winters and is heavily forested.
The province consists of three main geographical regions:
- The thinly populated Canadian Shield in the northwestern and central portions, which comprises over half the land area of Ontario. Although this area mostly does not support agriculture, it is rich in minerals and in part covered by the Centraland Midwestern Canadian Shield forests, studded with lakes and rivers. Northern Ontario is subdivided into two sub-regions: Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Ontario.
- The virtually unpopulated Hudson Bay Lowlands in the extreme north and northeast, mainly swampy and sparsely forested.
- Southern Ontario which is further sub-divided into four regions; Central Ontario (although not actually the province’s geographic centre), Eastern Ontario, Golden Horseshoe and Southwestern Ontario (parts of which were formerly referred to as Western Ontario).
Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands, particularly within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693 metres (2,274 ft) above sea level located in Temagami, Northeastern Ontario. In the south, elevations of over 500 m (1,640.42 ft) are surpassed near Collingwood, above the Blue Mountains in the Dundalk Highlands and in hilltops near the Madawaska River in Renfrew County.
The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern region of the province. The temperate and fertile Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley in the south is part of the Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests ecoregion where the forest has now been largely replaced by agriculture, industrial and urban development. A well-known geographic feature is Niagara Falls, part of the Niagara Escarpment. The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies roughly 87 percent of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94 percent of the population.
Point Pelee is a peninsula of Lake Erie in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor and Detroit, Michigan) that is the southernmost extent of Canada’s mainland. Pelee Island and Middle Island in Lake Erie extend slightly farther. All are south of 42°N – slightly farther south than the northern border of California.
The climate of Ontario varies by season and location. It is affected by three air sources: cold, dry, arctic air from the north (dominant factor during the winter months, and for a longer part of the year in far northern Ontario); Pacific polar air crossing in from the western Canadian Prairies/US Northern Plains; and warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The effects of these major air masses on temperature and precipitation depend mainly on latitude, proximity to major bodies of water and to a small extent, terrain relief. In general, most of Ontario’s climate is classified as humid continental. Ontario has three main climatic regions.
The surrounding Great Lakes greatly influence the climatic region of southern Ontario. During the fall and winter months, heat stored from the lakes is released, moderating the climate near the shores of the lakes. This gives some parts of southern Ontario milder winters than mid-continental areas at lower latitudes. Parts of Southwestern Ontario (generally south of a line from Sarnia-Toronto) have a moderate humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfa), similar to that of the inland Mid-Atlantic states and the Great Lakes portion of the Midwestern United States. The region has warm to hot, humid summers and cold winters. Annual precipitation ranges from 750–1,000 mm (30–39 in) and is well distributed throughout the year. Most of this region lies in the lee of the Great Lakes, making for abundant snow in some areas. In December 2010, the snowbelt set a new record when it was hit by more than a metre of snow within 48 hours.The next climatic region is Central and Eastern Ontario which has a moderate humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb). This region has warm and sometimes hot summers with colder, longer winters, ample snowfall (even in regions not directly in the snowbelts) and annual precipitation similar to the rest of Southern Ontario.
The Niagara Escarpment on the Bruce Peninsula.
In the northeastern parts of Ontario, extending far as south as Kirkland Lake, the cold waters of Hudson Bay depress summer temperatures, making it cooler than other locations at similar latitudes. The same is true on the northern shore of Lake Superior, which cools hot humid air from the south, leading to cooler summer temperatures. Along the eastern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron winter temperatures are slightly moderated but come with frequent heavy lake-effect snow squalls that increase seasonal snowfall totals upwards of 3 m (10 ft) in some places. These regions have higher annual precipitation in some case over 100 cm (39 in). The northernmost parts of Ontario — primarily north of 50°N — have a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with long, severely cold winters and short, cool to warm summers with dramatic temperature changes possible in all seasons. With no major mountain ranges blocking sinking Arctic air masses, temperatures of −40 °C (−40 °F) are not uncommon; snowfall remains on the ground for sometimes over half the year. Snowfall accumulation can be high in some areas. Precipitation is generally less than 70 cm (28 in) and peaks in the summer months in the form of showers or thunderstorms.
Severe thunderstorms peak in summer. London, situated in Southern (Southwestern) Ontario, has the most lightning strikes per year in Canada, averaging 34 days of thunderstorm activity per year. In a typical year, Ontario averages 11 confirmed tornado touchdowns. However over the last 4 years, it has had upwards of 20 tornado touchdowns per year, with the highest frequency occurring in the Windsor-Essex – Chatham Kent area, though few are very destructive (the majority between F0 to F2 on the Fujita scale). Ontario had a record 29 tornadoes in both 2006 and 2009. Tropical depression remnants occasionally bring heavy rains and winds in the south, but are rarely deadly. A notable exception was Hurricane Hazel which struck Southern Ontario centred on Toronto, in October 1954.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island (PEI or P.E.I.) is a province of Canada consisting of the island of the same name, as well as several much smaller islands.
It is one of the three Maritime Provinces and is the smallest province in both land area and population. It is the only province of Canada to have no land boundary. The island has several informal names: “Garden of the Gulf,” referring to the pastoral scenery and lush agricultural lands throughout the province; and “Birthplace of Confederation” or “Cradle of Confederation”, referring to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864, although PEI did not join Confederation until 1873, when it became the seventh Canadian province. The backbone of the economy is farming; it produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes. Historically, PEI is one of Canada’s older settlements and demographically still reflects older immigration to the country, with Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and French surnames being overwhelmingly dominant to this day.
According to the 2011 census, the province of Prince Edward Island has 140,204 residents. It is located about 200 km north of Halifax, Nova Scotia and 600 km east of Quebec City. It consists of the main island and 231 minor islands. Altogether, the entire province has a land area of 5,685.73 km2 (2,195.27 sq mi). Its capital is Charlottetown.
The main island is 5,620 km2 (2,170 sq mi) in size, slightly larger than the U.S. state of Delaware. It is the 104th-largest island in the world and Canada’s 23rd-largest island.
Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, west of Cape Breton Island, north of the Nova Scotia peninsula, and east of New Brunswick. Its southern shore bounds the Northumberland Strait. The island has two urban areas. The largest surrounds Charlottetown Harbour, situated centrally on the island’s southern shore, and consists of the capital city Charlottetown, and suburban towns Cornwall and Stratford and a developing urban fringe. A much smaller urban area surrounds SummersideHarbour, situated on the southern shore 40 km (25 mi) west of Charlottetown Harbour, and consists primarily of the city of Summerside. As with all natural harbours on the island, Charlottetown and Summersideharbours are created by rias.
The island’s landscape is pastoral. Rolling hills, woods, reddish white sand beaches, ocean coves and the famous red soil have given Prince Edward Island a reputation as a province of outstanding natural beauty. The provincial government has enacted laws to preserve the landscape through regulation, although there is a lack of consistent enforcement, and an absence of province-wide zoning and land-use planning. Under the Planning Act of the province, municipalities have the option to assume responsibility for land-use planning through the development and adoption of official plans and land use bylaws. Thirty-one municipalities have taken responsibility for planning. In areas where municipalities have not assumed responsibility for planning, the Province remains responsible for development control.
The landward side of sand dunes in Cavendish Theisland’s lush landscape has a strong bearing on its economy and culture. The author Lucy Maud Montgomery drew inspiration from the land during the late Victorian Era for the setting of her classic novel Anne of Green Gables (1908). Today, many of the same qualities that Montgomery and others found in the island are enjoyed by tourists who visit year-round. They enjoy a variety of leisure activities, including beaches, various golf courses, eco-tourism adventures, touring the countryside, and enjoying cultural events in local communities around the island.
The smaller, rural communities as well as the towns and villages throughout the province, retain a slower-paced, old-world flavour. Prince Edward Island has become popular as a tourist destination for relaxation. The economy of most rural communities on the island is based on small-scale agriculture. Industrial farming has increased as businesses buy and consolidate older farm properties.
The coastline has a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, salt water marshes, and numerous bays and harbours. The beaches, dunes and sandstone cliffs consist of sedimentary rock and other material with a high iron concentration, which oxidises upon exposure to the air. The geological properties of a white silica sand found at Basin Head are unique in the province; the sand grains cause a scrubbing noise as they rub against each other when walked on, and have been called the “singing sands”.
Large dune fields on the north shore can be found on barrier islands at the entrances to various bays and harbours. The magnificent sand dunes at Greenwich are of particular significance. The shifting, parabolic dune system is home to a variety of birds and rare plants; it is also a site of significant archeological interest.
Despite Prince Edward Island’s small size and reputation as a largely rural province, it is the most densely populated province in Canada.
Prince Edward Island amongst the Maritimes
The climate of the island is considered to be moderate and strongly influenced by the surrounding seas. As such, it is milder than inland locations owing to the warm waters from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The climate is characterized by changeable weather throughout the year; it has some of the most variable day to day weather in Canada in which specific weather conditions seldom last for long.
During July and August, the average daytime high in PEI is 23 °C (73 °F); however, the temperature can sometimes exceed 30 °C (86 °F) during these months. In the winter months of January and February, the average daytime high is −3.3 °C (26 °F). The Island receives an average yearly rainfall of 855 mm and an average yearly snowfall of 285 cm.
Winters are moderately cold and long but are milder than inland locations, with clashes of cold Arctic air and milder Atlantic air causing frequent temperature swings. The climate is considered to be more continental than oceanic since the Gulf of St. Lawrence freezes over, thus eliminating any moderation. The mean temperature is −7 °C (19 °F) in January. During the winter months, the island usually has many storms (which may produce rain as well as snow) and blizzards since during this time, storms originating from the North Pacific or the Gulf of Mexico frequently pass through. Springtime temperatures typically remain cool until the sea ice has melted, usually in late April or early May. Summers are moderately warm, but rarely uncomfortable, with the daily maximum temperature only occasionally reaching as high as 30 °C (86 °F). Autumn is a pleasant season, as the moderating Gulf waters delay the onset of frost, although storm activity increases compared to the summer. There is ample precipitation throughout the year, although it is heaviest in the late autumn, early winter and mid spring.
The Northwest Territories (NWT) is a territory of Canada. With a population of 41,462 in 2011 and an estimated population of 43,537 in 2013, the Northwest Territories is the most populous territory in Northern Canada. Yellowknife became the territorial capital in 1967, following recommendations by the Carrothers Commission.
The Northwest Territories, a portion of the old North-West Territory, entered the Canadian Confederation July 15, 1870, but the current borders were formed April 1, 1999, when the territory was subdivided to create Nunavut to the east, via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act. While Nunavut is mostly Arctic tundra, the Northwest Territories has a slightly warmer climate and is mostly boreal forest (taiga), although portions of the territory lie north of the tree line, and its most northern regions form part of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
The Northwest Territories are bordered by Canada’s two other territories, Nunavut to the east and Yukon to the west, and by the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to the south.
Quebec is the second-most populous province in Canada. It is the only Canadian province that has a predominantly French-speaking population, and the only one to have French as its sole provincial official language.
Quebec is Canada’s largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario, James Bay, and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; it is bordered on the south by the province of New Brunswick and the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia.
Quebec is Canada’s second most populous province, after Ontario. Most inhabitants live in urban areas near the Saint Lawrence River between Montreal and Quebec City, the capital. Approximately half of Quebec residents live in the Greater Montreal Area, including the Island of Montreal. English-speaking communities and English-language institutions are concentrated in the west of the island of Montreal but are also significantly present in the Outaouais, Eastern Townships, and Gaspé regions. The Nord-du-Québec region, occupying the northern half of the province, is sparsely populated and inhabited primarily by Aboriginal peoples. The climate around the major cities is four-season continental with cold and snowy winters combined with warm to hot humid summers, but further north long winter seasons dominate and as a result the northern areas of the province are marked by tundra conditions.Even in central Quebec at comparatively southerly latitudes winters are very severe in inland areas.
Quebec independence debates have played a large role in the politics of the province. PartiQuébécoisgovernments held referendums on sovereignty in 1980 and 1995; both were voted down by voters, the latter defeated by a very narrow margin. In 2006, the House of Commons of Canada passed a symbolic motionrecognizing the “Québécois as a nation within a united Canada.”
While the province’s substantial natural resources have long been the mainstay of its economy, sectors of the knowledge economy such as aerospace, information and communication technologies, biotechnology, and the pharmaceutical industry also play leading roles. These many industries have all contributed to helping Quebec become a very economically influential province within Canada, second only to Ontario in economic output.
The arrival of Samuel de Champlain, the father of New France, on the site of Quebec City.
The name “Québec”, which comes from the Algonquin word kébec meaning “where the river narrows”, originally referred to the area around Quebec City where the Saint Lawrence River narrows to a cliff-lined gap. Early variations in the spelling of the name included Québecq (Levasseur, 1601) and Kébec (Lescarbot, 1609). French explorer Samuel de Champlainchose the name Québec in 1608 for the colonial outpost he would use as the administrative seat for the French colony of New France. The province is sometimes referred to as “La belle province” (“The beautiful province”).
The Province of Quebec was founded in the Royal Proclamation of 1763 after the Treaty of Paris formally transferred the French colony of Canada to Britain after the Seven Years’ War. The proclamation restricted the province to an area along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River. The Quebec Act of 1774 expanded the territory of the province to include the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley and south of Rupert’s Land, more or less restoring the borders previously existing under French rule before the Conquest. The Treaty of Versailles ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. After the Constitutional Act of 1791, the territory was divided between Lower Canada (present day Quebec) and Upper Canada (present day Ontario), with each being granted an elected legislative assembly. In 1840, these become Canada East and Canada West after the British Parliament unified Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada. This territory was redivided into the Provinces of Quebec and Ontario at Confederation in 1867. Each became one of the first four provinces.
In 1870, Canada purchased Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company and over the next few decades the Parliament of Canada transferred to Quebec portions of this territory that would more than triple the size of the province. In 1898, the Canadian Parliament passed the first Quebec Boundary Extension Act that expanded the provincial boundaries northward to include the lands of the local aboriginals. This was followed by the addition of the District of Ungava through the Quebec Boundaries Extension Act of 1912 that added the northernmost lands of the aboriginal Inuit to create the modern Province of Quebec. In 1927, the border between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador was established by the British Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Quebec officially disputes this boundary.
Located in the eastern part of Canada, and (from a historical and political perspective) part of Central Canada, Quebec occupies a territory nearly three times the size of France or Texas, most of which is very sparsely populated. Its topography is very different from one region to another due to the varying composition of the ground, the climate (latitude and altitude), and the proximity to water. The Saint Lawrence Lowland (south) and the Canadian Shield (north) are the two main topographic regions, and are radically different.
Quebec has one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water, occupying 12% of its surface. It has 3% of the world’s renewable fresh water, whereas it has only 0.1% of its population. More than half a million lakes, including 30 with an area greater than 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), and 4,500 rivers pour their torrents into the Atlantic Ocean, through the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Arctic Ocean, by James, Hudson, and Ungava bays. The largest inland body of water is the Caniapiscau Reservoir, created in the realization of the James Bay Project to produce hydroelectric power. Lake Mistassini is the largest natural lake in Quebec.
Michel’s falls on Ashuapmushuan River in Saint-Félicien, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.
The Saint Lawrence River has some of the world’s largest sustaining inland Atlantic ports at Montreal (the province’s largest city), Trois-Rivières, and Quebec City (the capital). Its access to the Atlantic Ocean and the interior of North America made it the base of early French exploration and settlement in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since 1959, the Saint Lawrence Seawayhas provided a navigable link between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. Northeast of Quebec City, the river broadens into the world’s largest estuary, the feeding site of numerous species of whales, fish, and sea birds. The river empties into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. This marine environment sustains fisheries and smaller ports in the Lower Saint Lawrence (Bas-Saint-Laurent), Lower North Shore (Côte-Nord), and Gaspé (Gaspésie) regions of the province. The Saint Lawrence Riverand its estuary forms the basis of Quebec’s development through the centuries. At the same time, many affluent rivers testify to the exploration of land, among them Ashuapmushuan, Chaudière, Gatineau, Manicouagan, Ottawa, Richelieu, Rupert, Saguenay, Saint-François, and Saint-Maurice.
Saskatchewan is a prairie and boreal province in west-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with entirely man-made borders, and has a total area of 651,900 square kilometres (251,700 sq mi), of which only 592,534 square kilometres (228,800 sq mi) is land. The remaining 59,366 square kilometres (22,900 sq mi) is fresh water, composed mostly of rivers, reservoirs, and the province’s 100,000 lakes.
Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the American states of Montana and North Dakota. As of December 2013, the population of Saskatchewan was estimated at 1,114,170.Residents primarily live in the southern prairie half of the province, while the northern boreal half is mostly forested and sparsely populated. Of the total population, roughly half live in either the province’s largest city, Saskatoon, or the provincial capital, Regina. Other major cities include Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Estevan, Swift Current, North Battleford, and the border city Lloydminster (partially within Alberta).
Saskatchewan is a landlocked province with large distances to moderating bodies of waters. As a result, its climate is extremely continental, rendering severe winters all throughout the province. Southern areas have very warm or hot summers. Midale and Yellow Grass near the U.S. border are tied for the highest ever recorded temperatures in Canada with 45 °C (113 °F) observed at both locations in July 1937. In winter, temperatures below −45 °C (−49 °F) are possible even in the south during extreme cold snaps.
Saskatchewan has been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups, and first explored by Europeans in 1690 and settled in 1774. It became a province in 1905, in the early 20th century the province became known as a stronghold for Canadian democratic socialism; North America’s first social-democratic government was elected in 1944. The province’s economy is based on agriculture, mining, and energy. Saskatchewan’s current premier is Brad Wall and its lieutenant-governor is Vaughn Solomon Schofield.
In 1992, the federal and provincial governments signed a historic land claim agreement with First Nations in Saskatchewan. The First Nations received compensation and were permitted to buy land on the open market for the tribes; they have acquired about 3,079 square kilometres (761,000 acres; 1,189 sq mi), now reserve lands. Some First Nations have used their settlement to invest in urban areas, including Saskatoon.
Its name derived from the Saskatchewan River. The river was known as kisiskāciwani-sīpiy (“swift flowing river”) in the Cree language.
As Saskatchewan’s borders largely follow the geographic coordinates of longitude and latitude, the province is roughly a quadrilateral, or a shape with four sides. However the 49th parallel boundary and the 60th northern border appear curved on globes and many maps. Additionally, the eastern boundary of the province is partially crooked rather than following a line of longitude, as correction lines were devised by surveyors prior to the homestead program (1880–1928).
Saskatchewan is part of the Western Provinces and is bounded on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the north-east by Nunavut, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the American states of Montana and North Dakota. Saskatchewan has the distinction of being the only Canadian province for which no borders correspond to physical geographic features (i.e. they are all parallels and meridians). Along with Alberta, Saskatchewan is one of only two provinces that are land-locked.
The overwhelming majority of Saskatchewan’s population is located in the southern third of the province, south of the 53rd parallel.
Saskatchewan contains two major natural regions: the Canadian Shield in the north and the Interior Plains in the south. Northern Saskatchewan is mostly covered by boreal forest except for the Lake Athabasca Sand Dunes, the largest active sand dunes in the world north of 58°, and adjacent to the southern shore of Lake Athabasca. Southern Saskatchewan contains another area with sand dunes known as the “Great Sand Hills” covering over 300 square kilometres (120 sq mi). The Cypress Hills, located in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan and Killdeer Badlands (Grasslands National Park), are areas of the province that remained unglaciated during the last glaciation period, the Wisconsin glaciation.
The province’s highest point, at 1,392 metres (4,567 ft), is located in the Cypress Hills less than 2 km from the provincial boundary with Alberta. The lowest point is the shore of Lake Athabasca, at 213 metres (699 ft). The province has 14 major drainage basinsmade up of various rivers and watersheds draining into the Arctic Ocean, Hudson Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Saskatchewan receives more hours of sunshine than any other Canadian province. The province lies far from any significant body of water. This fact, combined with its northerly latitude, gives it a warm summer, corresponding to its humid continental climate (Köppen type Dfb) in the central and most of the eastern parts of the province, as well as the Cypress Hills; drying off to a semi-arid steppe climate (Köppen type BSk) in the southwestern part of the province. Drought can affect agricultural areas during long periods with little or no precipitation at all. The northern parts of Saskatchewan – from about La Ronge northward – have a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with a shorter summer season. Summers can get very hot, sometimes above 38 °C (100 °F) during the day, and with humidity decreasing from northeast to southwest. Warm southern winds blow from the plains and intermontane regions of the Western United States during much of July and August, very cool or hot but changeable air masses often occur during spring and in September. Winters are usually bitterly cold, with frequent Arctic air descending from the north. with high temperatures not breaking −17 °C (1 °F) for weeks at a time. Warm chinook winds often blow from the west, bringing periods of mild weather. Annual precipitation averages 30 to 45 centimetres (12 to 18 inches) across the province, with the bulk of rain falling in June, July, and August.
Saskatchewan is one of the most tornado-active parts in Canada, averaging roughly 12 to 18 tornadoes per year, some violent. In 2012, 33 tornadoes were reported in the province. The Regina Cyclone, took place in June 1912 when 28 people died in a F4 Fujita scale tornado. Severe and non-severe thunderstorm events occur in Saskatchewan, usually from early spring to late summer. Hail, strong winds and isolated tornadoes are a temporary occurrence.
The hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Canada happened in Saskatchewan. The temperature rose to 45 degrees Celsius in Midale and Yellow Grass. The coldest ever recorded in the province was −56.7 degrees Celsius in Prince Albert, which is north of Saskatoon.
Yukon is the westernmost and smallest of Canada’s three federal territories. Whitehorse is the territorial capital and Yukon’s only city.
The territory was split from the Northwest Territories in 1898 and was named the “Yukon Territory”. The federal government’s Yukon Act, which received royal assent on March 27, 2002, established “Yukon” as the territory’s official name, though “Yukon Territory” is also still popular in usage and Canada Post continues to use the territory’s internationally approved postal abbreviation of YT. Though officially bilingual (English and French), the Yukon Government also recognizes First Nations languages.
At 5,959 m (19,551 ft), Yukon’s Mount Logan, in Kluane National Park and Reserve, is the highest mountain in Canada and the second-highest on the North American continent (after Denali in the U.S. state of Alaska). Most of Yukon has a Subarctic climate, characterized by long cold winters and brief warm summers. The Arctic Ocean coast has a tundra climate.
Notable rivers include the Yukon River, after which the territory was named, as well as the Pelly, Stewart, Peel, White and Tatshenshini rivers.
ong before the arrival of Europeans, central and southern Yukon was populated by First Nations people, and the area escaped glaciation. Sites of archeological significance in Yukon hold some of the earliest evidence of the presence of human occupation in North America. The sites safeguard the history of the first people and the earliest First Nations of the Yukon.
The volcanic eruption of Mount Churchill in approximately 800 AD in the U.S. state of Alaska blanketed southern Yukon with a layer of ash which can still be seen along the Klondike Highway and forms part of the oral tradition of First Nations peoples in Yukon and further south in Canada.
Coastal and inland First Nations had extensive trading networks. European incursions into the area only began early in the 19th century with the fur trade, followed by missionaries. By the 1870s and 1880s gold miners began to arrive. This drove a population increase that justified the establishment of a police force, just in time for the start of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897. The increased population coming with the gold rush led to the separation of the Yukon district from the Northwest Territories and the formation of the separate Yukon Territory in 1898.
The territory is the approximate shape of a right triangle, bordering the U.S. state of Alaska to the west for 1,210 km (752 mi) mostly along longitude 141° W, the Northwest Territories to the east and British Columbia to the south. Its northern coast is on the Beaufort Sea. Its ragged eastern boundary mostly follows the divide between the Yukon Basin and the Mackenzie River drainage basin to the east in the Mackenzie mountains.
Most of the territory is in the watershed of its namesake, the Yukon River. The southern Yukon is dotted with a large number of large, long and narrow glacier-fed alpine lakes, most of which flow into the Yukon River system. The larger lakes include Teslin Lake, Atlin Lake, Tagish Lake, Marsh Lake, Lake Laberge, Kusawa Lake and Kluane Lake. Bennett Lake on the Klondike Gold Rush trail is a lake flowing into Nares Lake, with the greater part of its area within Yukon.
Canada’s highest point, Mount Logan (5,959 m or 19,551 ft), is in the territory’s southwest. Mount Logan and a large part of the Yukon’s southwest are in Kluane National Park and Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other national parks include Ivvavik National Park and Vuntut National Park in the north.
Mount Logan from the southeast
Other watersheds include the Mackenzie River, the Peel Watershed and the Alsek–Tatshenshini, and a number of rivers flowing directly into the Beaufort Sea. The two main Yukon rivers flowing into the Mackenzie in the Northwest Territories are the Liard River in the southeast and the Peel River and its tributaries in the northeast.
Notable widespread tree species within Yukon are the black spruce and white spruce. Many trees are stunted because of the short growing season and severe climate.
The capital, Whitehorse, is also the largest city, with about three-quarters of the population; the second largest is Dawson City (pop. 2,016), which was the capital until 1952.
While the average winter temperature in the Yukon is mild by Canadian arctic standards, no other place in North America gets as cold as the Yukon during extreme cold snaps. The temperature has dropped down to −60 °C (−76 °F) three times, 1947, 1954, and 1968. The most extreme cold snap occurred in February 1947 when the abandoned town of Snag dropped down to −63.0 °C (−81.4 °F).
Unlike most of Canada where the most extreme heat waves occur in July, August, and even September, The Yukon’s extreme heat tends to occur in June and even May. The Yukon has recorded 36 °C (97 °F) three times. The first time was in June 1969 when Mayo recorded a temperature of 36.1 °C (97 °F). 14 years later this record was almost beaten when Forty Mile recorded 36 °C (97 °F) in May 1983. The old record was finally broken 21 years later in June 2004 when the Mayo Road weather station, located just northwest of Whitehorse, recorded a temperature of 36.5 °C (97.7 °F).