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Great Canadian Fauna

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, The Canadian Encyclopedia created 30 lists of 30 things that make us proud to be Canadian, from famous people and historic events, to iconic foods and influential artists.

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Sustainable Development

Sustainable development has been defined by the United Nations (UN) as development that “meets the needs of the present” while ensuring the future sustainability of the planet, its people and its resources. Meeting these needs often requires balancing three key features of sustainable development: environmental protection, economic growth and social inclusion. The goals of sustainable development are interconnected. The most successful sustainable development projects will include environmental, economic and social considerations in their final plan. These considerations must include the free, prior and informed consent of any Indigenous groups impacted by a sustainable development project.

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Permafrost

Permafrost is ground remaining at or below 0°C continuously for at least two years. About 50 per cent of Canada is underlain by permafrost, mainly in the Arctic Archipelago, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

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Natural Resources in Canada

Natural resources are aspects of the natural environment from which goods and services can be obtained and produced. They include air, sunlight, water, land, vegetation, animal life and geological resources. People can also value natural resources for their own sake or for their aesthetic qualities. Humans must manage natural resources to sustain the benefits they offer.

Canada is among the most resource-rich countries in the world. Its large and varied natural resources are essential to its economies and cultures. But there are ongoing debates about how to use, share and manage natural resources.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

This is the full-length entry about natural resources in Canada. For a plain-language summary, please see Natural Resources in Canada (Plain-Language Summary).

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Common Gartersnake

The common gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis) is a relatively small, striped, non-venomous snake. It is one of the most widespread snake species in North America and its range extends farther north than any other North American snake. In Canada, it is found in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador, and as far north as James Bay and into the southernmost Northwest Territories. The common gartersnake is broken into five subspecies across Canada: the Maritime gartersnake (Thamnophis s. pallidulus; PEI, NS, NB, QC), the Eastern gartersnake (Thamnophis s. sirtalis; QC, ON), the red-sided gartersnake (Thamnophis s. parietalis; ON, MB, SK, AB, BC, NWT), the valley gartersnake (Thamnophis s. fitchi; BC), and the Puget Sound gartersnake (Thamnophis s. pickeringii; BC).

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Mantid

Mantids are carnivorous insects of the order Mantodea, known for their prayer-like posture. Mantids are most closely related to cockroaches and termites. There are about 2,400 species worldwide, most of which are found in the tropics. Only three species are found in Canada: the European mantis (Mantis religiosa), the Chinese mantid (Tenodera aridifolia) and the ground mantid (Litaneutriaminor). Of these three species only the ground mantid, found in southern British Columbia, is native.

Although mantis is sometimes used to refer to the entire group, most entomologists prefer to use that word for members of the genus Mantis.

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Turtle Island

For some Indigenous peoples, Turtle Island refers to the continent of North America. The name comes from various Indigenous oral histories that tell stories of a turtle that holds the world on its back. For some Indigenous peoples, the turtle is therefore considered an icon of life, and the story of Turtle Island consequently speaks to various spiritual and cultural beliefs.

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Canadian Arctic Sovereignty

Arctic sovereignty is a key part of Canada’s history and future. The country has 162,000 km of Arctic coastline. Forty per cent of Canada’s landmass is in its three northern territories. Sovereignty over the area has become a national priority for Canadian governments in the 21st century. There has been growing international interest in the Arctic due to resource development, climate change, control of the Northwest Passage and access to transportation routes. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in 2008, “The geopolitical importance of the Arctic and Canada’s interests in it have never been greater.”

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Yellowjacket

Yellowjacket is the common name for wasps in the genera Vespula and Dolichovespula. They belong to the insect family Vespidae in the order Hymenoptera, which also includes other types of wasps such as hornets, as well as bees and ants. Worldwide, there are about 50 recognized species of yellowjacket, 17 of which are native to Canada. These native species include the common (Vespula alascensis), Eastern (V. maculifrons), Western (V. pensylvanica) and aerial (Dolichovespula arenaria) yellowjacket. One species, the German yellowjacket (V. germanica), is introduced to Canada and is especially common in Ontario and Quebec.

List

Whale Species in Canada

Whale is the common name for large marine mammals of the order Cetartiodactyla (formerly Cetacea). They are subdivided into the Mysticeti, or baleen whales, and Odontoceti, or toothed whales. Smaller kinds of toothed whales are called dolphins or porpoises. Thirty-five whale species are found at least occasionally in Canadian waters — 9 species of baleen whales, and 26 species of toothed whales (mostly dolphins and porpoises). The commercial pursuit of whales was significant in early European exploration of Canada (see Whaling). Since the end of commercial whaling in Canada in 1972, whale watching has become popular. Whales found in Canada range in size from about 60 kg for the harbour porpoise to well over 100 tonnes for the blue whale, making it the largest animal ever known.

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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, Albertaand the Northwest Territories.

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North-West Territories (1870–1905)

The North-West Territories was the first Canadian territory. It was Established on 15 July 1870. As a territory, the region became part of Canada. But it lacked the population, economic and infrastructure resources to attain provincial status. It thus fell under the jurisdiction of the federal government. It covered a vast area, stretching west from a disputed boundary with Labrador, across the northern portions of present-day Quebec and Ontario, through the Prairies to British Columbia, and north from the 49th parallel to the Arctic Ocean. The territory was subject to numerous boundary changes before 1905. At that time, the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta were carved out of the southwest portion of the region. In 1906, the remaining territory was renamed the Northwest Territories.

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Snake Species in Canada

A snake is a long, slender reptile of the suborder Serpentes, within the order Squamata (which also includes lizards). There are 25 species of snake currently found in Canada. In addition, one species, the timber rattlesnake, and one subspecies, the Pacific gophersnake, are extirpated. This means that, while they continue to live in other parts of their range, they are no longer found in Canada. Snake species in Canada belong to one of three taxonomic families: Boidae, Viperidae or Colubridae. Most species live in the southern part of the country; however, the common gartersnake can be found as far north as the 60th parallel, near Fort Smith, Northwest Territories.

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Agriculture in Canada

Agriculture is the practice of growing crops and rearing animals mainly for food. Farmers also produce other items such as wool from sheep and CBD oil from hemp plants.

In Canada, agriculture is an important industry. Only about 7 per cent of Canada’s land can be farmed. Other marginal (poorer) land can be used to ranch cattle. Aquaculture operations are found on the East and West Coasts and in the Great Lakes. Some crops such as tomatoes, cannabis and flowers are grown in greenhouses in urban centres. Canadian agriculture faces many challenges. Some of these challenges concern crop protection, soil conservation, labour, climate change and health.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Water

Worldwide, over two-thirds of precipitation falling on land surfaces is evaporated and transpired back into the atmosphere. In Canada less than 40% is evaporated and transpired; the remainder, called the water yield, enters into streamflow.

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Forest

Main Forest TypesWorldwide there are 3 main forest types related directly to climatic zones: equatorial- and tropical-region forests, temperate-zone forests, and forests associated with colder climates.