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Geog162 Chapter 8 Western Canada.docx

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Simon Fraser University
GEOG 162
Michele Wiens

Chapter 8 Western Canada Physical Geography The two main physiographic regions here are the Interior Plains and the Canadian Shield (also there is a slice of the Cordillera along the western edge of this region) Dry Belt -contains cattle ranches and grain farms -precipitation is similar to other regions but summers are longer and evaporation rates higher -summer fallow is common to preserve soil moisture and fertility. Irrigation, also Palliser’s Triangle -Captain Palliser’s survey (1857) concluded that short-grass vegetation area of southern Alberta and Saskatchewan was a northern extension of Am desert; poor for agriculture The Strongest Image of Prairies for Canadians The Prairies is seen as an agriculture region however; the area is not optimum for agriculture compared to Southern Ontario and Southern Quebec There are several shortcomings -precipitation varies between seasons (droughts are common) -frost is unpredictable, no mountain barriers to the north so area is susceptible to arctic air -climatic hazards (convection storms, hail, tornadoes, Chinooks) Urban Geography Population Distribution 2 migrations transformed Western Canada -homesteaders flocked here (1870-1914 and post war), creating a rural landscape of small farms -rural to urban migration, whereby rural people moved to towns and cities (and BC urban centres) Push factors were mechanization of agriculture sector, consolidation of farms, shrinking need for labour Pull factors were employment opportunities; amenities Major urban centres include Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Edmonton The Prairie Psyche and its Relation to the Centralist/Decentralist Faultline The geography of western Canada and its role as a resource hinterland contributes to the prairie psyche It is based on a sense of collectivity among farmers and a feeling of alienation caused by lack of control over their economy This negative feeling stems from the peripheral position of Western Canada within Canada and its global economy Ottawa is seen as ignoring Western grievances or manipulating state power that places the interests of Central Canada over those of Western Canada (centralist-decentralist tension) E.g. The National Energy Program (1980-1984) enabled Ottawa to obtain a larger share of oil revenues through new taxes on the oil industry The National Energy Program and Ottawa’s Political Dominance Albertans believed that this was a tax-grab and that Ottawa forced oil-producing provinces to accept this program in order to ensure low-cost oil to Ontario and Quebec (for manufacturing, etc) This interfered with Western Canada’s resource revenue and led to further alienation Such alienation has led to the formation of new political movements as a means of combating the apparent inequities of centralist governments E.g. Reform-Preston Manning; Canadian Alliance-Stockwell Day) The Loss of the Crow Benefit (1995) Crow’s Nest Pass freight rate agreement 1897 set max ceiling rates for grain shipment -its elimination meant farmers have to pay full transportation costs (essentially rail costs doubled) Farmers argue that rate should have been maintained to give them a just return for their labo
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