Friday, May 18, 2007

Guide to Ontario

Ontario is a province located in the east-central part of Canada, the largest by population and second largest (after Quebec) in total area. Ontario is bordered by the provinces of Manitoba to the west, Quebec to the east, and the American states of Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota. Most of Ontario's borders with the United States are natural, starting at the Lake of the Woods and continuing through the four Great Lakes: Superior, Huron (which includes Georgian Bay), Erie, and Ontario (for which the province is named), then along the Saint Lawrence River near Cornwall. Ontario is also the only Canadian Province that borders the Great Lakes.

The capital of Ontario is Toronto, the largest city in Canada. Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is located in Ontario as well. The 2006 Census counted 12,160,282 residents in Ontario, which accounted for 38.5% of the national population. The province takes its name from Lake Ontario, which is thought to be derived from ontarío, a Huron word meaning "great lake", or possibly skanadario which means "beautiful water" in Iroquoian. Along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, Ontario is one of the four original provinces of Canada when the nation was formed on July 1, 1867 by the British North America Act. Ontario is Canada's leading manufacturing province accounting for 52 per cent of the total national manufacturing shipments in 2004.

The province consists of three main geographical regions: The thinly populated Canadian Shield in the northwestern and the central portions which covers over half the land area in the province, though mostly infertile land, it is rich in minerals and studded with lakes and rivers; sub-regions are Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Ontario. The virtually unpopulated Hudson Bay Lowlands in the extreme north and northeast, mainly swampy and sparsely forested; and The temperate, and therefore most populous region, fertile Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Valley in the south where agriculture and industry are concentrated. Southern Ontario is further sub-divided into four regions; Southwestern Ontario (parts of which formerly referred to as Western Ontario), Golden Horseshoe, Central Ontario (although not actually the province's geographic centre) and Eastern Ontario.

Despite the absence of any mountainous terrain in the province, there are large areas of uplands, particularly within the Canadian Shield which traverses the province from northwest to southeast and also above the Niagara Escarpment which crosses the south. The highest point is Ishpatina Ridge at 693m above sea level located in Northeastern Ontario. The Carolinian forest zone covers most of the southwestern section, its northern extent is part of the Greater Toronto Area at the western end of Lake Ontario. The most well-known geographic feature is Niagara Falls, part of the much more extensive Niagara Escarpment. The Saint Lawrence Seaway allows navigation to and from the Atlantic Ocean as far inland as Thunder Bay in Northwestern Ontario. Northern Ontario occupies roughly 85% of the surface area of the province; conversely Southern Ontario contains 94% of the population (see article Geography of Canada). Point Pelee National Park is a peninsula in southwestern Ontario (near Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan) that extends into Lake Erie and is the southernmost extent of Canada's mainland. Pelee Island in Lake Erie extends slightly further. Both are south of 42°N – slightly further south than the northern border of California.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Guide to Nunavut

Nunavut is the largest and newest of the territories of Canada; it was separated officially from the vast Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999 via the Nunavut Act and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act, though the actual boundaries were established in 1993. The creation of Nunavut resulted in the first major change to Canada's map since the incorporation of the new province of Newfoundland (including Labrador) in 1949.

The capital, Iqaluit (formerly Frobisher Bay) on Baffin Island, in the east, was chosen by the 1995 Nunavut Capital Plebiscite. Other major communities include Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay. Nunavut also includes Ellesmere Island in the north and the eastern and southern portions of Victoria Island in the west. Nunavut is both the least populated and the largest of the provinces and territorities of Canada. It has a population of only 30,782 spread over an area the size of Western Europe. If Nunavut were a sovereign nation, it would be the least densely populated in the world: Nearby Greenland, for example, has almost the same area and twice the population.

Nunavut means 'our land' in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit. Its inhabitants are called Nunavummiut, singular Nunavummiuq. Along with Inuktitut, Inuinnaqtun, English, and French are also official languages.

The region now known as Nunavut has supported a continuous population for approximately 4000 years. Most historians also identify the coast of Baffin Island with the Helluland described in Norse sagas, so it is possible that the inhabitants of the region had occasional contact with Norse sailors.

The recorded history of Nunavut began in 1576. Martin Frobisher, while leading an expedition to find the Northwest Passage, thought he had discovered gold ore in what is now known as Frobisher Bay on the coast of Baffin Island. The ore turned out to be worthless, but Frobisher made the first recorded European contact with the Inuit. The contact was hostile, with Frobisher capturing four Inuit people and bringing them back to England, where they quickly perished.

Other explorers in search of the elusive Northwest Passage followed in the 17th century, including Henry Hudson, William Baffin and Robert Bylot.

In 1976 as part of the land claims negotiations between the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (then called the Inuit Tapirisat of Canada) and the federal government the division of the Northwest Territories was discussed. On the 14 April 1982, a plebiscite on division was held throughout the Northwest Territories with a majority of the residents voting in favour and the federal government gave a conditional agreement seven months later. A land claims agreement was decided in September 1992 and ratified by nearly 85% of the voters in Nunavut. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act and the Nunavut Act were passed by the Canadian Parliament, and the transition was completed on April 1, 1999.


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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Guide to Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia (Latin for New Scotland) is a Canadian province located on Canada's southeastern coast. It is the most populous province in the Maritimes. and its capital, Halifax, is a major economic centre of the region. Nova Scotia is the second smallest province in Canada, with an area of 55,284 km². Its population of 934,405 makes it the fourth least populous province of the country.

Nova Scotia's economy is traditionally largely resource-based, but has in recent decades become more diverse. Industries such as fishing, mining, forestry and agriculture remain very important, and have been joined by tourism, technology, film production, music and other cultural industries.

The province includes several regions of the Mi'kmaq nation of Mi'gma'gi, which covered all of the Maritimes, as well as parts of Maine, the Gaspé, and Newfoundland. Nova Scotia was already home to the Mi'kmaq people when the first European colonists arrived. In 1604, French colonists established the first permanent European settlement north of Florida at Port Royal, founding what would become known as Acadia. The British Empire obtained control of the region between 1713 and 1760, and established the new capital at Halifax in 1749. Nova Scotia was one of the founding four provinces to join Confederation with Canada in 1867; along with New Brunswick, Quebec, & Ontario.

The province's mainland is a peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, including numerous bays and estuaries. Cape Breton Island, a large island to the northeast of the Nova Scotian mainland, is also part of the province, as is Sable Island, a small island notorious for its shipwrecks, approximately 175 km (95 nm) from the province's southern coast. Nova Scotia is Canada's second smallest province in area (after Prince Edward Island).


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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories (NWT; French, les Territoires du Nord-Ouest) is a territory of Canada.

Located in northern Canada, it is east of Yukon, west and south of Nunavut (Canada's two other territories), and north of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. It has an area of 1,171,918 square kilometres and a population of 41,861 as of July 1, 2006. Its capital has been Yellowknife since 1967.

Geographical features include the vast Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, as well as the immense Mackenzie River and the canyons of the Nahanni River, a national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Territorial islands in the Arctic Archipelago include Banks Island, Parry Peninsula, Prince Patrick Island, and parts of Victoria Island and Melville Island. The highest point is Mount Nirvana near the border with Yukon at elevation 2773 m (9098 ft).

The present-day territory was created in June 1870, when the Hudson's Bay Company transferred Rupert's Land and North-Western Territory to the government of Canada. This immense region comprised all of modern Canada except British Columbia, the coast of the Great Lakes, the Saint Lawrence River valley and the southern third of Quebec, the Maritimes, Newfoundland, and the Labrador coast. It also excluded the Arctic Islands except the southern half of Baffin Island; these remained under direct British rule until 1880.

The name of the territory is traced to North-Western Territory, a region named for the geographical location relative to Rupert's Land.

After the transfer, the territories were gradually whittled away. The province of Manitoba was created on 15 July 1870, a tiny square around Winnipeg, and then enlarged in 1881 to a square region composing the modern province's south. By the time British Columbia joined confederation on 20 July 1871, it had already (1866) been granted the portion of North-Western Territory south of 60 degrees north and west of 120 degrees west. In 1882 Regina in the then-District of Assiniboia became the territorial capital; after Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905, Regina became the provincial capital of the new province of Saskatchewan.


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Friday, December 15, 2006

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador (French: Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador) is a province of Canada, the tenth to join the Confederation. Geographically, the province consists of the island of Newfoundland and the mainland Labrador, on Canada's Atlantic coast. On entry into Canada in 1949, the entire province was known as Newfoundland, but since 1964, the province's government has referred to itself as the "Government of Newfoundland and Labrador", and on December 6, 2001, an amendment was made to the Constitution of Canada to change the province's official name to "Newfoundland and Labrador". In general day-to-day conversation, however, Canadians still erroneously refer to the province as a whole by the shorter name Newfoundland, while the Labrador region of the province is usually properly referred to as simply Labrador.

While the name "Newfoundland" is derived from English as "New Found Land", Labrador is named after Portuguese explorer João Fernandes Lavrador.

The province's population is 509,677. People from Newfoundland are called "Newfoundlanders" (and at times "Newfies", though this can be seen as a pejorative) while people from Labrador are called "Labradorians". Newfoundland has its own dialects of the English, French, and Irish Gaelic languages. The English dialect in Labrador shares much with Newfoundland. Furthermore, Labrador has its own dialects of Innu-aimun and Inuktitut.

As well as the long border on the mainland with Quebec on the Labrador peninsula, the province has a short border with Nunavut on the small Killiniq Island, ending at Cape Chidley. All islands off the northern coast of Quebec belong to the territory of Nunavut.

Newfoundland is separated from the Labrador Peninsula by the Strait of Belle Isle and from Cape Breton Island by the Cabot Strait. It blocks the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River, creating the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary. Newfoundland's nearest neighbour is the tiny French overseas community of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

It is 111,390 km² in area, making it the world's 16th largest island, and Canada's fourth largest island. The provincial capital, St. John's, is found on the southeastern tip of the island. Cape Spear, just south of the capital, is North America's easternmost point. The island of Newfoundland has a population (2001) of 466,172. However, it is common to consider all directly neighbouring islands such as New World, Twillingate, Fogo and Bell Islands to be 'part of Newfoundland' (as distinct from Labrador).

Being one of the first places discovered in the New World, Newfoundland has a rich history. St. John's is considered to be the oldest city in English speaking North America.

Newfoundland is home to two national parks. Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 due to its complex geology and remarkable scenery. It is the largest national park in Atlantic Canada at 1 805 km² (697 sq. mi.). Terra Nova National Park, on the island's east side, preserves the rugged geography of the Bonavista Bay region and allows visitors to explore the historic interplay of land, sea and man.

Newfoundland also contains a major hiking trail that runs along the eastern edge of the Avalon Peninsula. The East Coast Trail extends for 215 km, beginning near Fort Amherst in St. John's and ending in Cappahayden. The trail winds along the coast, bringing hikers through many small fishing villages and along long streches of rocky, uninhabited coastline.

Stephenville, a town of about 8000, once served as an airbase for the US Army and Air Force in the early 1940s to 1966. It is about 32 km (20 miles) north of its former train station, which is surrounded by the town of Stephenville Crossing.

Also on the West Coast, Corner Brook is situated in the Bay of Islands region. The major industry in Corner Brook is newsprint manufacturing, and is serviced by the Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Mill.

Sandy Point, which is located in St. George's Bay and north of the town of St. George's, was the first and largest settlement of the west coast. However, the last settler, Alphonsus Swyers, was forced to abandon it in 1973.

Island of Newfoundland Barachois Pond Provincial Park is a provincial park that is considered to be a model forest.

Marble Mountain is a major attraction in the winter for skiers. It is said to be the best skiing east of the Rocky Mountains.

In March, the annual seal hunt (of the harp seal) takes place.

Newfoundland is also host to a well-recognized university, Memorial University of Newfoundland, based in St. John's.


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Guide to New Brunswick

New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces, and the only officially bilingual province (French and English) in the country. Its capital is Fredericton. The provincial Department of Finance estimates that the province's population in 2006 was 749,168 (New Brunswickers or Néo-Brunswickois), of which the majority is English-speaking but with a substantial (35%) French-speaking minority of mostly Acadian origin.

New Brunswick is bounded on the north by Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula and Baie des Chaleurs. Along the east coast, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and Northumberland Strait are found. In the south-east corner of the province, the narrow Isthmus of Chignecto connects New Brunswick to peninsular Nova Scotia. The south of the province is bounded by the Bay of Fundy. On the west, the province borders the American state of Maine. The province differs from its neighbours physiographically, climatologically and ethnoculturally. The major river systems in the province include the St. John River, Petitcodiac River, Miramichi River, St. Croix River, Kennebecasis River and the Restigouche River. New Brunswick lies entirely within the Appalachian Mountain range. The eastern and central part of the province consists of the New Brunswick Lowland. The Caledonia Highlands and St. Croix Highlands extend along the Bay of Fundy coast, reaching elevations of 300 metres. The northwestern part of the province is comprised of the remote and more rugged Miramichi Highlands, as well as the Chaleur Uplands and the Notre Dame Mountains with a maximum elevation at Mount Carleton of 820 metres. The total land and water area is 72, 908 kms², 80% of which is forested. The major urban centres lie in the south of the province.

Metropolitan Saint John (Saint John, Quispamsis, Rothesay) and Greater Moncton (Moncton, Riverview, Dieppe) both have urban populations of between 120,000 and 130,000. Greater Fredericton has a census agglomeration population of 85,000. Saint John is one of the largest shipping ports in Canada (in terms of gross tonnage) and has heavy industries in the form of pulp and paper mills and oil refineries. In addition, there are major oil fired and nuclear power plants in the greater Saint John vicinity. Moncton is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the province. Its economy is principally based on transportation (the province's largest airport is located here), distribution, commercial and retail. Moncton has a sizeable francophone Acadian minority (35%) and was the first officially bilingual city in the country. Fredericton, the capital of the province is home to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the University of New Brunswick. Canada's largest military base is located in nearby Oromocto.

New Brunswick has a modern service based economy dominated by the finance, insurance, health care and educational sectors and this is based out of all three of the principal urban centres. In addition to the above; heavy industry is found in Saint John, Fredericton is dominated by government services, universities and the military and Moncton is a commercial, retail, transportation and distribution centre with important rail and air terminal facilities. The rural primary economy is best known for forestry, mining, mixed farming and fishing. The most valuable crop is potatoes, while the most valuable fish catches are lobster and scallops. Tourism is becoming increasingly important, especially in the Passamaquoddy region (dominated by the resort town of St. Andrews), and in the southeast of the province, centred by Moncton and Shediac. The largest employers are the Irving group of companies, several large multinational forest companies, the Government of New Brunswick, and the McCain group of companies.


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Guide to Manitoba

Manitoba is one of Canada's 10 provinces. It was officially recognized by the Federal Government in 1870 as separate from the Northwest Territories, and became the first province created from the Territories. It is the easternmost of the three Prairie provinces.

Manitoba's capital and largest city (containing over one half the provincial population) is Winnipeg. Other important cities and towns include Brandon, Thompson, Dauphin, Swan River, Churchill, The Pas, Selkirk, Portage la Prairie, Gimli, Flin Flon, Steinbach, Morden, Virden, Minnedosa, Neepawa and Winkler.

A person from Manitoba is called a Manitoban.

Manitoba is located in the longitudinal centre of Canada, although it is considered part of Western Canada. It borders Saskatchewan to the west, Ontario to the east, Nunavut and the Hudson Bay to the north, and the American states of North Dakota and Minnesota to the south.

The province has a coast along Hudson Bay, and contains the tenth-largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Winnipeg, along with other very large lakes: Lake Manitoba, and Lake Winnipegosis. Manitoba's lakes cover approximately 14.5% or 94,241 km² of its surface area. Lake Winnipeg is the largest lake within the borders of southern Canada, and is one of the last remote lake areas with intact watersheds left in the world. Large rivers that flow into the east side of Lake Winnipeg's basin are very pristine, with no major developments along them. Many pristine islands can be found along the eastern shore of this grand lake. There are thousands of lakes across the province.[1] Important watercourses include the Red, Assiniboine, Nelson, Winnipeg, Hayes, Whiteshell, and Churchill Rivers.

Most of Manitoba's inhabited south, near or in Winnipeg, lies within the prehistoric bed of Glacial Lake Agassiz. This south central part of the province is flat with few hills. However, there are many hilly and rocky areas in the province, along with many large sand ridges left behind by glaciers. Baldy Mountain is the highest point at 832 m above sea level (2,727 ft) and the Hudson Bay coast is the lowest at sea level. Other upland areas include Riding Mountain, the Pembina Hills, Sandilands Provincial Forest, and the Canadian Shield regions. Much of the province's sparsely-inhabited north and east lie within the irregular granite landscape of the Canadian Shield, including Whiteshell Provincial Park, Atikaki Provincial Park, and Nopiming Provincial Park. Birds Hill Provincial Park was originally an island in Lake Agassiz after the melting of glaciers.

The climate in Manitoba is typical of its mid continent location and northerly latitude. In general, temperatures and precipitation decrease from south to north. Summers are generally warm to hot and winters very cold. Both spring and autumn are contracted seasons. As Manitoba is far removed from the moderating influences of both mountain ranges and large bodies of water (all of Manitoba's very large lakes freeze during the winter months), and because of the generally flat landscape in many areas, it is exposed to numerous weather systems throughout the year including prolonged cold spells in the winter months when arctic high pressure air masses settle over the province. This has resulted in the capital of the province being nicknamed "Winterpeg". It is common to have about minus 40 degrees celsius for quite a few days in the winter, and to have a few weeks that remain below minus 20. In the summer months the climate is often influenced by low pressure air masses originating in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in hot and humid conditions and frequent thunderstorms with a few tornadoes each year. Manitoba is one of the sunniest places in Canada and North America.

Only the southern parts of the province support extensive agriculture. The most common farm found in rural areas is: cattle farming (35.3%) followed by oilseed (25.8%) and wheat farming (9.8%). Around 11% of the farmland in Canada is in Manitoba. The eastern, southeastern, and northern reaches of the province range through coniferous forests, muskeg, Canadian Shield, and up to tundra in the far north. Forests make up about 263,000 square kilometres of the province's 548,000 square kilometre land base. The forests generally consist of pines, spruces, larch, arborvitae, poplars, and birch trees. The great expanses of intact forested areas are considered by many naturalists and sportsmen as pristine wilderness areas. Some of the last largest and intact boreal forest of the world can be found along the east side of Lake Winnipeg, with only winter roads, no Hydro development, and few largely populated communities. There are many clean and untouched east side rivers that originate in the Canadian Shield, and flow west into Lake Winnipeg.


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