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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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Daylight Saving Time in Canada

In Canada, daylight saving time is the practice of turning clocks ahead one hour on the second Sunday in March and back one hour on the first Sunday in November. Canada’s has six standard time zones that may be abbreviated as PST (pacific standard time), MST (mountain standard time), etc. However, during the daylight saving period between March and November, they may be abbreviated as PDT, MDT, etc. The boundaries of the standard time zones are not necessarily the same as those of the corresponding daylight saving time zones. For example, the mountain time zone includes a portion of northeastern British Columbia in the summer, but not during the winter (see maps below). Boundaries shift because some municipalities choose not to participate in daylight saving time. Similarly, Saskatchewan follows central standard time year-round.

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Time Zones in Canada

There are six time zones in Canada covering four and a half hours. From west to east these time zones are: Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, Atlantic and Newfoundland. From the first Sunday in November to the second Sunday in March these zones are referred to as standard time zones, and may be abbreviated as PST, MST, CST, etc. From the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November most of Canada follows daylight saving time. During this summer period the time zones may be abbreviated as PDT, MDT, CDT, etc. The boundaries of the standard time zones are not necessarily the same as those of the corresponding daylight saving time zones. For example, the Mountain time zone includes a portion of northeastern British Columbia in the summer, but not during the winter (see maps below). Boundaries shift because some municipalities choose not to participate in daylight saving time. Similarly, Saskatchewan follows CST year-round.

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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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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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Social History

Social history is a way of looking at how a society organizes itself and how this changes over time. The elements that make up Canada’s social history include climate and geography, as well as the transition to industrialization and urbanization.

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National Parks of Canada

Canada’s national parks are protected areas established under federal legislation to preserve Canada’s natural heritage. They are administered by Parks Canada, a government agency that evolved from the world’s first national parks service, the Dominion Parks Branch, established in 1911. The National Parks System Plan, developed in 1970, divided Canada into 39 natural regions and set the goal of representing each region with at least one national park. Canada now has 48 national parks and national park reserves in 30 of these regions. In total, the parks cover more than 340,000 km2, which is over 3 per cent of Canada’s landmass. They protect important land and marine habitats, geographical features and sites of cultural significance. National parks also benefit local economies and the tourism industry in Canada.