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Physiographic Regions

Canada may be divided into seven physiographic regions: Arctic Lands, Cordillera, Interior Plains, Hudson Bay Lowland, Canadian Shield Forest Lands, St Lawrence Lowlands and Appalachia.

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Thousand Islands

Thousand Islands (Ontario part), an 80 km long section of the St Lawrence River, extending downstream from Lake Ontario between Kingston and Brockville and containing over 1000 rocky, wooded islands which range from several square kilometres to barely emergent rocks and shoals.

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Partridge Island

Partridge Island is located in the Bay of Fundy, about 1 km from the shoreline and the city of Saint John, New Brunswick. The island was set aside as a quarantine station in 1785 and operated as such between 1830 and 1941. Many immigrants arriving to Canada by ship, including thousands of  Irish in 1847, were isolated on the island before being allowed to enter the country. This was done in an effort to prevent the spread of infectious diseases common on overcrowded vessels. In 1974, the Partridge Island quarantine station was designated a national historic site. Other important events are associated with the island, including the installation of the world’s first steam-operated fog alarm in 1859 (see also Robert Foulis).

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Okanagan Lake

Okanagan Lake is located in the southern interior of British Columbia and is the largest lake in the Okanagan Valley. Approximately 6,188 km2 of land drain into the lake, which has a total surface area of 351 km2. The lake is long and thin, measuring 120 km in length and ranging between 3 and 5 km in width. The depth of the lake is highly variable, with a mean depth of 76 m and a maximum depth of 230 m. Okanagan Lake is heavily used for recreation and is believed by some to be the home of the mythical Ogopogo creature.

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Northwest Coast

 The Northwest Coast was the name given by 18th-century navigators and traders to the great arc of Pacific coast and offshore islands stretching from present-day northern California to an ill-defined point along the Alaska coast - at Prince William Sound or even Cook Inlet.

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Tundra

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.)

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Lake Athabasca

Lake Athabasca is located in northeastern Alberta and northwestern Saskatchewan, at the edge of the Precambrian Shield. With an area of 7,935 km2 and a 2,140 km shoreline, it is the eighth-largest lake in Canada.

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Rocky Mountains

Castlelike mountain resorts built on the rail line at Banff and Lake Louise have become all-season recreation centres for Banff National Park's (established 1885) many alpine attractions, which attract 4.5 million visitors annually.

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North Saskatchewan River

​The North Saskatchewan River (1,287 km long, the first 48.5 km of which is designated as a Canadian Heritage River) is a major tributary to the Saskatchewan River, which ultimately flows into Hudson Bay. The mean annual flow is 241 m3/s; however, flow varies between the peak in July and minimum in February. It served as a major transportation route from the end of the last Ice Age through the mid-20th century.

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Lake St. Clair

Lake St. Clair, 1,114 km, elevation 175 m, average depth 3.7 m, is bordered by the province of Ontario to the east and the state of Michigan to the west. Almost circular in shape, it has a length of 42 km and a maximum width of 39 km. It is connected to Lake Huron to the north by the St. Clair River and drains into Lake Erie to the south via the Detroit River. Lake St. Clair is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, a significant transportation route stretching from Lake Superior through the Great Lakes to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The cities of Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, are located at the southwest end of the lake, making it a popular site for recreational fishing and boating.

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Badlands

Badlands are dramatic landforms characterized by a network of deep, narrow and winding gullies, along with occasional hoodoo rocks. Their steep, barren slopes provide striking evidence of the force of erosion by wind and water — a source of continual change in their terrain.

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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.

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Continental Divides in Canada

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.

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Laurentian Highlands

Although the other limits are less well defined, the highlands may be considered to extend 100-200 km northward from the scarps and to stretch from the Gatineau River in the west (mean elevation 400 m) some 550 km to the SAGUENAY RIVER in the northeast.

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Columbia River

The Columbia River runs from the southeast corner of British Columbia through Washington and Oregon states to the Pacific Ocean.

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Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine

Between about 15 000 and 10 000 years ago, as the glaciers retreated from the last ice age, parts of Georges Bank and other shallow areas were dry land; fragments of trees and mammoth teeth from this era are still found occasionally in fishing trawls.