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GEOG 162 Lecture Notes - National Energy Program, Urban Geography (Journal), Sony Max

Course Code
GEOG 162
Michele Wiens

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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
-rural to urban migration, whereby rural people moved to towns and cities (and BC urban
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
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