Geography of Canada: Lecture 1
Jan 8 2014
The Study of Regional Geography
• Canada is a huge and diverse country, so its geography is best understood from a
regional perspective. The geographic study of a particular part of the world is called
regional geography. Canada is divided up into 6 regions, each with its own location,
physical geography and history. The 6 geographic regions of Canada are British
Columbia, Territorial North (consists of 3 territories), Western Canada
(Alberta/Saskatchewan/Manitoba), Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada (New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland/Labrador).
• A strong sense of regional identity exists, and these identities were shaped over time as
people faced challenges imposed by their economic, physical and social environments.
For many, place is the most powerful determinant of their life chances, experiences and
opportunities. Living and working in a common space inevitably leads to the formation of
a regional identity.
• Regional identity is the product of a regions physical geography, historical events, and
• People place their imprint on landscapes (via interactions with the environment) just as
landscapes influence their lives and activities.
• Other expressions of regional belonging are sense of place (emphasizes local control
over regional/community affairs) and power of place (linked to globalization) Quebecois
exhibit a strong sense of place, who perceive their place within Canada as more of a
partnership with the rest of the country.
• What is regionalism?
Regionalism is the division of a large area (country) into different parts.
Some countries are more prone to regionalism than others. Canada is very prone
to regionalism. This is mainly a result of its large size.
• Why is regionalism so prevalent in Canada?
The main reason that regionalism is prevalent in Canada is due to its vast
geographic size and varied physical geography (creates natural regional
divisions). There are other reasons for regionalism as well. These include: Different patterns
of historic settlement and relationship with the aboriginals (provides distinct
cultural base in different areas), different cultures and language (Quebec), and
uneven population/economic distribution (concentrates power in Central
The British N.A act of 1867 gave considerable power to the provinces
• Definition: A distinctive area of Earth’s surface. It has distinguishing human or natural
characteristics that set it apart from other areas (geographic location/historical
development/variations in area, population and economic strength/proportions of French
speakers and Aboriginals).
• Canada has 6 main regions (as well as sub regions such as Southern/Northern Ontario),
determined by geographic size, economic importance and population size. An effort was
made to balance the 6 regions with regard to these aspects. As a result, Western
Canada consists of several provinces, the Territorial North consists of several territories
and Atlantic Canada consists of several provinces. Only Ontario, British Columbia and
Quebec have the geographic size, population size and economic importance to form
separate geographic regions.
• The boundaries of regions are related to faultlines. These are NOT physical fault lines.
They are differences between two different areas whether it be geographical, cultural,
Approaches to Identifying Regions
• Select the critical and physical human characteristics that logically divide a large spatial
unit into a series of regions and that distinguish each region from adjacent ones.
Towards the margins of a region, its core characteristics become less distinct (merge
with neighbouring regions) and are best considered transition zones.
• Provincially defined region: Choose an area of provinces (ie. Atlantic Canada).
Describe the area, analyze the economy, study the demographics, understand the
• Categorization of land surface: Classify land into chunks that have similar
characteristics (based on appearance).
Types of Regions
• Uniform region: Named after a characteristic where all locations in the region have
similarities in that particular characteristic.
Ex: Vegetation (grassland/desert region) • Functional region: Interactions