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Red River

The Red River (880 km long) begins at the confluence of the Bois de Sioux and Otter Tail rivers at the border between Minnesota and North Dakota. It then flows north through southern Manitoba and into Lake Winnipeg. The last 175 km of the Red River, the portion located in Manitoba, is designated as a Canadian Heritage River due to its cultural and historical value. The Red River flows through a productive agricultural region that is prone to both drought and severe flooding — the largest flood in the area in recent history, coined “the flood of the century,” occurred in 1997. The river’s basin was once the bottom of a glacial lake, Lake Agassiz, which covered the region 8,000 years ago. Currently, the Red River provides water for municipal, industrial and agricultural uses, and offers numerous summer and winter recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing (including ice fishing), camping and skating.

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Saskatchewan River

The Saskatchewan River is 1,939 km long from the Rocky Mountains headwaters to Cedar Lake in central Manitoba. When including its longest tributary, the South Saskatchewan River, the Saskatchewan River is the fourth-longest river in Canada. It’s a major tributary to the Nelson River, ultimately draining into Hudson Bay. Its name is derived from the Cree word kisiskâciwanisîpiy meaning swift-flowing river. The Saskatchewan River was a major transportation route for First Nations for thousands of years and was an instrumental transportation and resource corridor during the fur trade and early European exploration.

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South Saskatchewan River

​The South Saskatchewan River (1,392 km long) is a heavily utilized water source in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan and is a major tributary to the Saskatchewan River, ultimately discharging to Hudson Bay. Mean flow is 280 m3/s, but varies throughout the year, largely controlled by several dams and reservoirs along the river system. The South Saskatchewan River flows through an agriculturally productive region and is prone to periodic droughts and floods.

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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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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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Athabasca River

The Athabasca River is the longest river in Alberta (1,538 km). The first 168 km (located in Jasper National Park) are designated as a Canadian Heritage River. As a tributary to the Mackenzie River, water flowing on the Athabasca River eventually drains into the Arctic Ocean. River flow is highest during the summer and lowest during winter, and it is ice-covered from mid-November to mid-April.

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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 $1.5-million. 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, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

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Great Slave Lake

Great Slave Lake is located in the Northwest Territories. It is the second largest lake entirely within Canadian borders, the fifth largest in North America, and the tenth largest in the world.

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North

In strictly geographic terms, the North refers to the immense hinterland of Canada that lies beyond the narrow strip of the country in which most Canadians live and work, but generally refers to the Northwest Territories, the Yukon and Nunavut.

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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.