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GEO2010 Chapter 10 Notes.docx

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Western University
Geography 2010A/B
Suzanne Greaves

Chapter 10: The Territorial North The Territorial North Within Canada  Largest geographic area of the 6 regions, but the smallest population and economy  One of the world’s most sparsely populated areas  Its narrowly based mining economy is dependent on global market and prices, making it extremely vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles  Demographic features have been shaped by 3 factors: o Small population due to limited capacity of the land to support people o Aboriginal population whose very high birth rate and extremely low death rate account for population growth o Non-Aboriginal population tends to move to job opportunities  Resource Frontier: perception of the Territorial North as a place of great mineral wealth that awaits development by outsiders  Northern Frontier: view of Canada’s North as a place of resource wealth to be exploited  Homeland: land / region where a relatively homogeneous people and their ancestors have been born and raised thus developing a strong attachment  Megaprojects: large-scale construction projects that exceed $1 billion and take more than 2 years to complete  Contemporary vision of northern frontier comprises large multinational corporations with their vast capital and advanced technology undertaking megaprojects  Aboriginal peoples see the North as a homeland – sense of place  “Frontier” economic activities often bring jobs and investment but the Aboriginal community has had minimal involvement, partly because of a mismatch between the needs of the companies and skill sets of Aboriginal workers Physical Geography of the Territorial North  Extends over 4 of Canada’s physiographic regions: Canadian Shield, Interior Plains, Cordillera, Arctic Lands  Its topography ranges from mountainous terrain and forest stands in the west, to barren plains, ice-covered islands, and Arctic seas further east and north  Northern Lights: visible portions of the dissipation of solar energy carried to the earth’s magnetosphere by solar winds, energy is visible as rapidly moving light that appears as white / green / red flashes of light across the sky  Region is known for several rivers that wind through it, the many lakes that dot its landscape, and the Arctic Ocean that supports a range of aquatic wildlife  Cold persists throughout most of the year and in many ways affects human activities  The cold environment includes permafrost and long winters with sub-zero temperatures  The region’s main climate – Arctic and Subarctic are characterized by very short summers  Arctic air masses dominate the weather patterns in the Territorial North o Characterized by dry, cold weather and originate over the ice- covered Arctic Ocean moving southward in the winter o Ice-covered ocean and continuous permafrost keep summer temperatures cool  Arctic climate region has tundra vegetation (lichens, mosses, grasses, and low shrubs)  As there is little precipitation, this area is described as the polar desert  With lower temperature and less precipitation than in the lower latitudes, tundra vegetation cannot survive  Arctic Ice Pack: floating sea ice in the Arctic Ocean that has consolidated into an ice pack  Geology of the Territorial North provides much of its wealth Environmental Challenge: Global Warming  Global warming is expected to reach its maximum temperature increase in the Arctic because of the albedo effect whereby greater solar warming of the land and water will occur because of reduction of ice and snow cover  Arctic has a high albedo because of its cover of snow and ice, which means most solar energy is reflected back into outer space without warming the atmosphere  However, as ice and snow cover decreases in the Arctic, its albedo will shift from high to low, meaning that the solar energy reaching the Arctic will be more effective in warming its atmosphere and thus raising temperatures  By the end of the 21 century, global warming is expected to have created an ice-free Arctic Ocean and Hudson Bay o Allowing for ocean transportation of its petroleum reserves and reduction of water transportation costs for other mineral deposits  Scientists have noted negative impacts on polar bears but a positive effect on seal populations  Reduction of the size of the calving grounds of caribou herds would have a negative impact on preferred space for reproduction  The Dene and Inuit communities that rely on these herds for food may have to purchase from stores  More open water would permit a large numbers of bowhead whales which used to sustain the Thule Historical Geography of the Territorial North  Cultural exchange between Europeansthnd original inhabitants of these lands remained limited until the 19 century when the trade in fur pelts and whaling peaked in North America  During the early years of whaling, whalers had little opportunity or desire to make contact with the Inuit living along the Arctic coast  As whaling ships went further to find better whaling grounds, it became impossible to return to their home ports within one season  Inuit soon welcomed the whaling ships because of the opportunity for trade (work for useful goods)  While this relationship brought many advantages for the Inuit, there were also negative social and health aspects o Rise in alcoholism o Spread of European diseases among the Inuit o Unexpected end of commercial whaling – demand for whale products decreased sharply  Fur trade had been expanding northward into the Arctic, providing a replacement for whaling  Demand for Arctic fox pelts rose leading the HBC to establish trading posts in the Arctic  At first Aboriginal peoples had a form of partnership with European traders and whalers o Each side had power, however it gradually shifted in favor of the European traders o Indians who had long ago integrated trade goods in their traditional way of life were therefore heavily dependent on trade  In the Territorial North, game became scarce around fur-trading posts from overexploitation  Problems of growing dependency on European goods and a changing way of life for northern Aboriginal peoples were compounded after arrival of Anglican and Catholic missionaries in the 1860s  Indians and Metis were confronted with the full force of Western culture in the 19 century  Missionaries placed young Aboriginal children in church-run residential schools where they were taught in either English or French which trapped them between two very different worlds  Many lost their indigenous language, animistic beliefs and cultural customs  Relocation from the land to tiny settlements o Advantages: food security, access to medical services, public education o Disadvantages: destroying traditional social hunting / trapping, impossible for people to follow seasonal cycle of wildlife movements  Apparent political urgency of the day (failing hunting / trapping economy) caused Ottawa to relocate Aboriginal peoples but these settlements were ill-prepared o Necessary step in protecting northern peoples from hardships of living on the land o Concentrating Aboriginal people allowed Ottawa to provide services  Barren Grounds: area of tundra stretching from the west coast of Hudson Bay to Great Slave and Great Bear lakes and northward to the Arctic Ocean  Access to store food and medical services resulted in a population boom  But increased population did not match availability of public housing and jobs, resulting in overcrowding  Aboriginal communities face deep-rooted social dysfunctions  Two principal sources of income are wages and various forms of government payments  Increase in the consumption of store food rich in carbohydrates has already caused obesity and diabetes  Territorial North fell under Canadian jurisdiction in three stages o Transfer of Rupert’s Land to Canada by Britain (1870) o Great Britain transferred the Arctic Islands to Canada (1880) o In 1985, Canada declared a 200-mile economic zone that extended its control over the Arctic Ocean  Canada never paid much attention to the Territorial North o Little value for agricultural settlement, or because of its remote location for resource development o Ottawa had its hands full with the provinces where almost all Canadians lived o Fur trade in the North depended on the Aboriginal peoples’ living on the land  The North’s economy was left in the hands of the nomadic Dene and Inuit who hunted and trapped  With the outbreak of WWII, the Territorial North became a strategic frontier  Served as a buffer zone between North America and Soviet Union for over 50 years o Canada’s North provided a secure transportation link to the European theatre of war o With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ottawa withdrew its military establishment at Inuvik, did not proceed with its plans for a military base at Nanisivik, and downsized its operation
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