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Regions of Canada
Betsy Arntzen
Canadian Studies K-12 Outreach Coordinator
Canadian-American Center . University of Maine
From Sea to Sea to Sea: Pacific, Arctic, Atlantic oceans
Canada and the United States share the longest
undefended border in the world
Population: Canada's population of 30 million is about
10 percent of the US population.
Canadians have family ties to people in every country in
the world; people from every country in the world are
now Canadians
Canada is a confederation of
10 provinces and 3 federal territories
Parliamentary form of government
Sizes: Prince Edward Island (same size as Delaware)
Quebec (twice the size of Texas). Canada is the 2nd
largest country in the world.
The majority of Canadians reside within 200 miles of the
border. Why?
Landform Regions
Atlantic or Appalachian
 St. Lawrence Lowlands
 Canadian Shield
 Prairies or Interior Plains
 Cordillera
 North
Atlantic or Appalachian
• Contains four provinces:
Nova Scotia (Halifax),
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland & Labrador (St.
John’s), and New Brunswick
• Named for the ancient
mountain range, which has
low rugged hills and
plateaus, with a deeply
indented coastline. Its
scenery attracts tourists;
tourism is a large part of this
region’s economy.
• Large ocean areas off the coast,
such as the Grand Banks, were
once thought to contain an
inexhaustible supply of fish.
Europeans have fished off the coast
for over 400 years. These fishing
grounds are now considered
protected and are managed.
Atlantic or Appalachian
First Nations were the first inhabitants
for thousands of years. Europeans
from France and Great Britain first
came to fish (1500s), and later settled
(1600s). Today, people of many
cultures and ethnic backgrounds live
New Brunswick is Canada’s only
bi-lingual province. About 1/3 of New
Brunswickers live and work in a
French-speaking area.
Resources: fish, forests, minerals, oil
Economic Activities: fishing, mining,
some industries
Atlantic or Appalachian
• Agriculture flourishes in the valleys – Saint John River Valley (New
Brunswick) and Annapolis Valley (Nova Scotia), and in the gently rolling
fertile landscape of Prince Edward Island. Harvesting forest products and
producing pulp and paper is another industry
• Natural gas and oil from this region is sold to and piped into New England
and other states for use as fuel.
St. Lawrence Lowlands
Resources: farmland, minerals
Economic Activities: service industries, manufacturing, farming,
mining. This region contains the southern part of Quebec (Capital:
Quebec City) and the southern part of Ontario (Capital: Toronto),
and the Great Lakes. The country’s capital – Ottawa – is in this
The Great Lakes are valuable resources for both fresh water and as
an important waterway for shipping goods from the continent’s
interior to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Canada and the U.S. share management of the Great Lakes.
St. Lawrence Lowlands
The majority (70%) of Canada’s manufactured goods are
produced in this region. The majority of people in this region
work in service or manufacturing industries such as the
automobile industry. Toronto and the surrounding cities and
towns are comprised of more than 100 ethnic groups.
This region has prime agricultural land on the Niagara Peninsula
where grapes, peaches, pears and other fruit are grown. Maple
syrup is also produced in this region. Dairy farming is another
St. Lawrence Lowlands
The area around Montreal is a financial, service and industrial
center, producing fabric, clothes, food, paper, metal, chemical
and wood products. Montreal is the center of a transportation
network including Canada’s aeronautics and space industry.
Over 30% of Canadians live in Ontario which is the province with
the most French speaking residents other than Quebec.
Over 75% of Canadians who live in Quebec speak French; this
province preserves and promotes French language and culture.
Canadian Shield
This region is wrapped around a large inland sea – Hudson Bay –
and is an area of rocks, rivers and lakes with a thin layer of topsoil
supporting a spruce and pine forest. This region covers almost 50%
of Canada and is home to 10% of the population.
The lowest areas of this region are along the shoreline of the
Hudson Bay. The highest elevations are in Labrador and Baffin
Island. Another area, called the Laurentides, is located north of
Montreal. This area of lakes and hills are known for 4-season
Canadian Shield
The resources of the Canadian Shield have helped provinces
develop industries such as forestry, energy and mining. Quebec is
Canada’s main producer of pulp and paper, and with abundant
fresh water, it is Canada’s largest producer of hydroelectricity.
The minerals in the shield have resulted in Canada’s being a world
leader in producing minerals such as gold, silver, nickel, zinc,
copper, and iron. Canada’s largest mining towns are Sudbury and
Timmins (ON), Val d’Or (QC), and Flin Flon and Thompson (MB)
This region was made famous in the paintings by the artists known
as The Group of Seven.
Prairies or Interior Plains
This region contains the central section of Northwest Territories
(Capital: Yellowknife), the southern quarter of Manitoba (Capital:
Winnipeg), the southern half of Saskatchewan (Capital: Regina),
and all of Alberta (Capital: Edmonton)
This region covers about 20% of Canada’s land mass.
There are three sub-regions: Lowland (up to 800’), Plain (up to
1800’), and Plateau (up to 3000’). Most of this regions’ population
lives in the Lowland, where the longer growing season is favorable
to farming.
Prairies or Interior Plains
This is one of the richest, most productive grain producing regions
in the world with long, flat fertile fields of grain crops.
Another characteristic of this region is its large concentrations of
dinosaur fossils – one of the world’s largest concentrations.
Manitoba is known as the land with 100,000 lakes and produces
The sedimentary rocks underlying the Interior Plain region have
significant deposits of natural gas and oil, and the Province of
Alberta is Canada’s leading producer of petroleum oil.
• Spanish word for parallel ridges or
mountain ranges
• Coastal plain rich soil (3%)
• Forested area (60%)
This region contains British Columbia (Capital: Victoria), most of
Yukon Territory (Capital: Whitehorse), and some of Northwest
Territories (Capital: Yellowknife). This region extends from a humid
rainforest climate in the south to an area with an icecap in the north.
The region is bordered on the west side by the Pacific Ocean, a
deeply indented coastline and many islands. The border on the
east side are the Rocky Mountains. The entire region is primarily
Pacific Forest consisting of alder-hemlock, spruce, pine, and
douglas fir.
The varied terrain includes mountains, highlands, alpine tundra, salt
marshes, rugged coastline, and rocky inlets. Mountain ranges are
interspersed by rivers, valleys, and plateaus
This area contains Canada’s highest and youngest mountains. The
highest mountain is Mt. Logan (19,685’)
Vancouver Island has the most moderate climate of Canada’s
regions. It receives a high amount of rain giving it a temperate rain
forest climate. Although it does not contain the diversity of species
of a tropical rain forest, it does have the oldest and tallest trees in
This region is the site of arguably the longest continuous human
occupation in what is now Canada, and was the most densely
populated area of Canada at the time of European contact. The
cultural groups occupying the coast and islands of the Cordillera
include the Tsimshian, Salish, Kwakwaka'wakw, Haida,
Nuu'chah'nulth, Heiltsuk, and Nisga'a.
The largest city in this region is Vancouver, an Asian-influenced city
of 3 million. The population includes First Nations people, and
thousands of Chinese and other Asians.
This region contains most of the territory Nunavut. The majority of
residents are Inuit, and the territory is Inuit governed. People
speak Inuktituk, English, and French. The territorial capital is
Iqaluit, with 6000 residents; it is located on the southern tip of
Baffin Island.
Nunavut is a mainland with many islands - Baffin Island and
Ellesmere Island are the largest. The islands, inlets, and big
stretches of water in the Arctic Ocean link together and form the
Northwest Passage - the route to Asia sought by so many
Most communities have electricity, stores, and other services.
There are about 26 communities. Each is served by airplane.
Most people travel by plane, boat, and skidoo. Some residents of
Nunavut live the nomadic life, and travel by dogsled and kayak ,
but this is not as common as it was a generation ago.
The periods of daylight and darkness range from 1 month of 24hour daylight and no months of 24-hour darkness, to 2.5 months
of 24-hour daylight and 3 months of 24-hour darkness.
There are about 1,700 kinds of plants in the arctic and these
include: low shrubs, mosses, and grasses, 400 varieties of
flowers, and lichen.
There are many species of animals including: lemmings, voles,
caribou, arctic hares and squirrels, arctic foxes, wolves, and polar
bears, various species of birds, insects, several kinds of fish, and
sea mammals.
The industry includes
Tourism: people come to fish, hike, camp, hunt, to see the wildlife;
Mining: copper, lead, silver, zinc, iron, gold and diamonds, oil and
Fishing: whitefish and Arctic char;
Factories: packaging the fish and meat;
Sale of Inuit arts and crafts.
The territorial government is also an employer.