Geography of Canada

As the 2nd largest country in the world in terms of total area, it is no surprise that Canada's geography is both diverse and vast. This large territory is in-between 3 oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Arctic), so the national motto is “From sea to sea”. The USA and Greenland are also its neighbours.

As there are almost 10 million square kilometres of land, there are numerous geoclimatic regions and topography. These include flat lands, boreal forests, ice, mountains, and lowlands. The major mountain range in Canada is the Appalachian Mountains which extend from the southern USA into the Atlantic Provinces and some parts of southern Quebec. These mountains, especially the Long Range Mountains and Notre Dame create picturesque river valleys and rolling hills. They are thought to be about 380 million years old and are home to plenty of flora and fauna that is endemic to Canada.

In southern Ontario and Quebec, the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Lowland are a rich plain. Before urban sprawl took place, the Eastern Great Lakes Lowland was home to mixed forests. Unfortunately, most of this area has been cut down due to logging and agriculture but most of this is heavily protected. The Gulf of St. Lawrence is also the 2nd largest estuary in the world. Although the lowlands are flat, there are some batholites called the Monteregian Hill. These hills are known for being rich with precious minerals.

The northern areas of Ontario, Manitoba, Labrador, Saskatchewan, and Quebec are located on a rock base called the Canadian Shield. This Shield is mostly hilly terrain that is eroded, and contains a lot of important rivers and lakes which are used for hydroelectricity. This shield also has a number of wetlands as well as the Hudson Bay lowlands. The Canadian Shield also has some mountain ranges such as the Laurentian Mountains and the Torngat. As it is a rock base, intensive agriculture is not supported. However, there are small dairy farms and some agricultural farms around the lakes and the river valleys.

The Canadian Interior Plains are also known as the Prairies. This is actually a plain which covers most of Alberta, south-west Manitoba, and southern Saskatchewan. It also covers the regions of the Rocky Mountains and the Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes in the Northwest Territories. These plains are generally flat and are great for agriculture. However, there are some hilly areas such as the Alberta Badlands and Cypress Hills.

The Western Cordillera is found on the east. This area consists of the Canadian Rockies, Fraser Plateau, Nechako Plateau, Peace River, the Okanagan Valley, Coast Mountains, islands, straits, and temperate rainforest.

Lastly, the Canadian Arctic is full of ice and tundra. There are different geological regions and this area features the world's northernmost mountains. This area is north of the tree line, and includes Nunavut, as well as the northern areas of the Yukon, Northwester Territories, Labrador, Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba.

Other interesting facts about Canada's geography include:

  • 9% of the world's renewal water supply is discharged from Canada
  • 25% of the world's wetlands are found in Canada
  • Canada hosts the 3rd most amount of glaciers in the world
  • There are over 2 million lakes in Canada
  • The main rivers of Canada are St Lawrence and Mackenzie, and they are the 2nd and 3rd largest rivers in North America respectively
  • The most northern point in Canada is Cape Columbia which is 83°08' N. The North Pole is 90°N.
  • The most southern point is Middle Island in Lake Erie
  • The highest point is Mount Logan at an altitude of 19,550 feet
  • The Canadian pole of inaccessibility is found at Jackfish River in Alberta