Tundra, which comes from a Sami word meaning “barren land,” refers to a treeless arctic region characterized by permafrost. Canada’s tundra is known for its freezing temperatures, lack of trees, low-growing vegetation and abundant rock outcrops. The southern boundary of tundra in Canada extends from the Mackenzie River delta to the southern reaches of Hudson Bay and northeast to the Labrador Peninsula. The term “alpine tundra” is often used to describe any area above the treeline in mountainous areas. But “alpine tundra” and “arctic tundra” are not interchangeable. (While the two regions share some similarities, the differences are significant.)
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.
The Aroostook War was a confrontation between British and Maine authorities in disputed territory known as Madawaska. During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was in dire need of wood and the region’s pine forests became an important commodity. Claimed by both Maine and New Brunswick, Madawaska became fertile ground for confrontations between the two. The war peaked in 1838‒39 when the governor of Maine, John Fairfield, sent a group, led by Rufus McIntyre, to stop “provincials” from entering territory that Fairfield believed was Maine’s. McIntyre was captured and accused of invading the colony. The conflict ended in 1842 with the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which divided the territory along the Saint John River.
A continental divide is a ridge or natural boundary of elevated terrain that separates the drainage basins of a continent. Each drainage basin contributes its water to river systems, which in turn flow into distinct larger bodies of water, such as oceans. The main continental divide in Canada follows the ridge of the Rocky Mountains.
The Arctic Circle is a parallel or line of latitude at approximately 66°33’ N that marks the border of the Arctic, the northernmost region of Earth. The geographic point at the centre of Arctic Circle is the North Pole. In Canada, communities located close to this cartographic boundary include Old Crow in the Yukon, Fort McPherson in the Northwest Territories, and Repulse Bay and Qikiqtarjuaq in Nunavut. The latitude of the Arctic Circle shifts slightly depending on the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis.
Ellesmere Island, at 196 236 km2, is the third-largest island in Canada, the 10th-largest island in the world and the most northerly island in the Arctic Archipelago. It is located in Nunavut and is separated from Greenland by Kane Basin and Kennedy Channel, and from Devon Island to the south by Jones Sound.
Lake Manitoba, 4624 km2, elev 248 m, is one of 3 large lakes occupying the southern half of Manitoba. A narrow, irregular lake, about 200 km long with marshy shores, it is fed mainly from Lake WINNIPEGOSIS, which lies to the northwest, and drains northeast via the Dauphin River to Lake WINNIPEG.