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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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Gulf

A gulf is a body of water partly surrounded by land and connected to an ocean or sea. This connection sometimes takes the form of a narrow passage called a strait. The nomenclature of water inlets can be inconsistent between sources. Sometimes, the terms gulf,  bay and sea are used interchangeably. For example, the Arabian Sea and Hudson Bay can both be classified as gulfs. However, in most cases a gulf is deeper and larger than a bay and is also more enclosed from the ocean or sea to which it is connected. Because gulfs are partially surrounded by land, their waters are typically calmer than those of oceans. This makes them suitable for activities such as transportation, fishing and leisure.

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Bay

A bay is a body of water partly surrounded by land and connected to a larger body of water. It is typically bigger than a cove and smaller than a gulf. However, this is not always the case. For example, Hudson Bay is much larger than the Persian Gulf. Strictly speaking and by international agreement, to be defined as a bay, a water body’s mouth (the boundary between itself and the larger body of water to which it is connected) must not exceed 24 nautical miles. In addition, its area must exceed that of a semicircle drawn with the mouth as its diameter.

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Dam

A dam is a structure built across a waterway to control or stop the flow of water. This is called impounding the flow of water. Dams can be built by animals, such as beavers, or constructed by humans. In some cases, they are even formed by natural geological forces.

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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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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 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. Saskatchewan follows central standard time 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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Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island is Canada's smallest province, making up just 0.1 per cent of Canada’s total land area. It is situated in the Gulf of St Lawrence and separated from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by the Northumberland Strait. PEI was known to its earliest settlers, the Mi’kmaq as Abegweit, meaning "cradle in the waves,” and was described by Jacques Cartier in 1534 as "the fairest land that may possibly be seen." PEI's deep red soil has always been its most striking feature and, together with the sea, the mainstay of the population since the early 18th century.

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Geography of Ontario

Ontario is divided by three of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These three regions are the Hudson Bay Lowlands, the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands. Agriculture, as well as most of the population, is concentrated in the south. Despite the tendency to divide the province into three regions, there are distinct areas within these broad classifications. Geology, climate, soil and vegetation combine to create these distinct areas.

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Geography of Manitoba

Manitoba is divided by three of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These three regions are the Hudson Bay Lowland, the Canadian Shield and the  Interior Plains. Most of Manitoba’s population is concentrated in the southeastern corner of the province, in the Interior Plains physiographic region. This region is also where most of Manitoba’s arable land is located. By comparison, the Hudson Bay Lowland and the Canadian Shield are generally not suitable for agriculture. Churchill, Manitoba’s only saltwater port, is located in the Hudson Bay Lowland. Hydroelectric power, freshwater fishing, metal mines and some forestry are located in the Canadian Shield region.

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Geography of British Columbia

British Columbia is divided by two of Canada’s seven physiographic regions. These regions are the Cordillera and the Interior Plains. The vast majority of the province is in the Cordillera region, while the northeast corner is part of the Interior Plains. Within the Cordillera region there are many mountain ranges, including the Rocky Mountains and the Coast Mountains. British Columbia’s wet, coastal climate is also home to some of the tallest coniferous trees in Canada, such as the Douglas fir.

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Hudson Bay

It is virtually landlocked but is joined to the Arctic Ocean to the north by Foxe Channel and Fury and Hecla Strait, and to the Atlantic Ocean on the east by Hudson Strait. Baffin Island lies athwart the entrance to the bay, and Southampton, Coats and Mansel islands are lodged across the northern gap.