A History of Canada: - Vol. 1

By Gustave Lanctot; Josephine Hambleton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
THE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT

Geological divisions. Area of the country. Barren character of the northern regions. The water systems: seas, lakes and rivers. The climate and its variations. Fauna: animals, fish, birds. The forest: trees, bushes, plants. The subsoil and minerals.

Canada takes a magnificent transcontinental sweep across the whole northern half of North America, save for Alaska alone, and encompasses a territory as vast as all of Europe. She is bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean and on the south by the United States; while her east-west range is from the St. Croix River at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy, to the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the Pacific coast.1

Within this immense land-mass geological surveys reveal five major divisions based on the structure of the crust of the earth.2 The first is the Appalachian region covering the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Gaspé's half-peninsula, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. This formation largely comprises palaeozoic sediments, and shapes the surface into low mountains and plateaux of medium altitude. All are covered by pleasant forests and interspersed with valleys eminently suited to farming. The broad periphery of the Appalachian region drops into a lacework pattern of bays on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean, and meets the Grand Banks of Newfoundland under water.

The second division is the famous Canadian Shield: an enormous core of pre-Cambrian rock about which later formations have clustered. It extends about Hudson Bay like a heraldic escutcheon, pushing up into the Arctic Ocean at the mouth of the Mackenzie River, and following the valley of that river down to Lake Superior. The southern limit sweeps across Ontario to meet the St. Lawrence north of Kingston, accompanies that vast

-3-

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