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GEO2010 Chapter 7 Notes.docx

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Western University
Geography 2010A/B
Suzanne Greaves

Chapter 7: British Columbia British Columbia Within Canada  Lies at the western edge of Canada’s land mass  Cordillera dominates the landscape while Interior Plains occupies a small portion of its northeast corner  Alaska Panhandle: strip of the Pacific coast north of 54° 40’ N latitude that was awarded to the US in 1903 following what is known as the Alaska boundary dispute  Emerging giant within Canada’s economic system  West coast region’s economy is heavily based on its natural resources and the export of those  BC’s scenic beauty supports a vibrant tourist industry and its expanding knowledge-based industries help drive economic growth in new directions  Most exports go to USA though exports to Pacific Rim countries continue to climb  Lumber, pulp, natural gas, and coal are the province’s four main exports  Imports flow through Vancouver to markets across Canada  British Columbia-Alberta-Saskatchewan Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA): agreement gives businesses and workers in all 3 provinces seamless access to a larger range of opportunities across all sectors  BC’s rate of economic and population growth have outperformed the national rates even with a depressed forest industry  Struggle for political power and respect is ongoing and underscores the centralist / decentralist faultline  Cascadia: name proposed for an independent sovereign state advocated by a grassroots movement in the Pacific Northwest, which would include BC, Washington, and Oregon British Columbia’s Physical Geography  Famous for its mild west coast climate  Combination of two contrasting climates (west coast and interior climates) with mountainous terrain has resulted in a wide variety of natural environments or ecosystems  Physical contrast is due to the effect of the Coast Mountains on precipitation o Easterly flowing air masses laden with moisture from the Pacific are forced to rise sharply over this high mountain chain o Consequently, most moisture falls as orographic precipitation on the western slopes while little precipitation reaches the eastern slopes  Winters are extremely mild and freezing temperatures are uncommon while summer temperatures while warm are rarely as high as other areas  Moderate temperatures, high rainfall, and mild but cloudy winters make the west coast of BC an ideal place to live and a popular retirement centre  Pacific Ocean has a powerful impact on BC’s climate, resource base, and transportation system o Continental shelf in BC extends only a short distance from the coast  Cordillera was formed by severe folding and faulting of sedimentary rocks  Coast zone is subject to earthquakes because of tectonic movements  Interior plateau separates the coast mountains from the mountains of the interior (gently undulating land with occasional deeply trenched river valleys)  Little arable land, largest area of cropland lies outside of the Cordillera in Peace River country o Shortage of arable land poses a serious problem for BC o With urban developments spreading onto agricultural land, BC lost some of its most productive farmland  Provincial Agricultural Land Commission: independent BC agency responsible for administering the province’s land-use zone in favour of agriculture  Because of extremely high elevations in the Coast Mountains, few moist Pacific air masses reach the Interior Plateau  Heavy orographic precipitation occurs along the western slopes, most rain falls in the winter  Pineapple Express: strong and persistent flow of warm air associated with heavy rainfall that originates in the waters adjacent to the Hawaiian Islands  Pacific coast of BC has most temperate climate in Canada, dominated by the constant flow of moist Pacific air masses  Further east, the annual precipitation declines  Changes in elevation, latitude, variation in topography from mountain ranges to plateaus, and distance from Pacific Ocean to Rocky Mountains control each microclimate (affect vegetation and soil conditions)  In general, these areas become drier as distance from the Pacific Ocean increases and cooler as either elevation / latitude increases  Along the west coast, the mild / wet climate encourages a rainforest – lush evergreen and deciduous trees  Under this vegetation cover, podzolic soils are common (acidic, low in plant nutrients)  Fertilizers are used because nutrients are washed away by heavy rainfall and fallen needles of coniferous produce acidic soil  This coastal region contrasts with the sagebush and yellow grasses in lower elevations of the southern Interior Plateau Environmental Challenges  Human activities have subjected the seemingly limitless natural riches to mismanagement and wasteful practices that have led to resource loss, environmental degradation, and land-use conflicts  Sustainable Resource Use: use of renewable resources when the rate of consumption equals the resource’s natural rate of replenishment  Clear-cutting, harvesting method most widely used in BC whereby every tree within a large area is cut down, remains a controversial practice  Logging companies claim that selective logging is too expensive and would not allow them to compete in word markets  Clear-cutting left surrounding land vulnerable to rapid soil erosion and stream sedimentation  Under such conditions, fish habitat is damaged and spawning grounds may be destroyed  Changing weather patterns pose the chief natural challenge  Exceptionally dry summers over the last 7 years have resulted in vast forest fires  Another natural impact has been the destruction caused by the pine beetle on the lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees in the Interior Forest  Pine beetle larvae spend the winter under bark feeding on the tree and emerges from an infested tree to seek another host  Mature timber will be in short supply in the future, pine beetles have spread as a result of milder winters  BC plans to convert the dead trees into electricity by using the wood to fuel local electric generators situated at sawmills British Columbia’s Historical Geography  Indians lived along the Pacific coast of BC for over 10,000 years before th European explorers reached northern Pacific coast in the mid-18 century  British and American traders came to the Pacific Northwest to seek the highly valued sea otters  In the early 19 century, the North West Company established a series of fur-trading posts along the Columbia River – develop a working relationship with local Indian tribes based on bartering manufactured goods for furs  Late 19 century, dispute arose over the Alaska Panhandle and gold rush  Settlement favoured the US, suggesting Canada’s interests may been sacrificed by Great Britain which sought better relations with the US  Increasing number of American settlers who came west along the Oregon Trail represented a challenge to the authority of the Hudson’s Bay Company  Without the presence of the HBC and Britain’s negotiating skills, Canada might have lost its entire Pacific coastline  By the 1860s, the British government was actively encouraging its colonies in BC to unite into one country  Ottawa promised to build a railway to the Pacific Ocean within 10 years after BC joined Confederation  In 1871, BC chose to become a province of Canada  Most British settlers lived around Fort Victoria, beyond that the vast majority of inhabitants were Aboriginal peoples  BC government denied that First Nations had a claim to land  At first, Confederation had little effect on BC – province was isolated from rest of Canada and goods still had to come by ship from San Francisco / London  When the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, BC truly became part of the Dominion  Main line of the railway and its many branch lines were responsible for the formation of many of the province’s towns and cities and for providing access to its forest and mineral wealth  Vancouver grew quickly and soon became the major centre on the west coast, transshipment point for goods produced in the interior of BC and Western Canada  By the 20 century, Vancouver had become one of Canada’s major port, ice free harbor due to warm Pacific Ocean  Became the natural transportation link to Pacific nations, more accessible to the markets of the UK and Western Europe  Between 1885 and the end of WWI, BC underwent a demographic explosion  At the same time, combination of disease and social dislocation caused the number of Aboriginal people to decline sharply  WWII called for full production in Canada  Military production greatly expanded BC’s industrial output  As well, resource industries based on forestry and mining were producing at full capacity  Over the past 2 decades, BC’s increasing economic strength has outpaced that of all other regions in Canada  Trade is a dynamic force propelling BC’s economy, endless between BC and Pacific nations British Columbia Today  Economy is more focused on global trade, tourism, high technology, manufacturing, and filmmaking  Inland Passage: protected waterway of the Pacific Ocean lying between BC mainland and Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii  BC’s increase in population has caused a shift of the population centre of Canada towards the west o Gained more seats in the House of Commons o Economic, demographic, and political power has shifted to the west
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