Geography of Canada: Lecture 2
Jan 15, 2014
Power of Place
• Concept derived from economic geography that deals with the relationship between
place and power.
• Opposite of sense of place; as it deals with the global economy.
• Represents a mix of natural and economic components, such as natural wealth,
geographic situation and access to global markets.
• Hinterlands are typically at a disadvantage in comparison to the industrial core areas.
This is because prices of manufactured goods have increased more rapidly over time
than commodities (except for oil). Additionally, hinterlands are subject to boom and bust
cycles (rapid increases and decreases in economic activity). This is a key element in the
• However, the super cycle theory states that the above price relationship will reverse.
This is based on two ideas; the idea that demand will outstrip supply and keep prices
high, and that in a global economic downturn, demand from industrializing countries
(China/India) will keep price declines to a minimum (poorer countries in the process of
industrializing must be able to afford these resources).
Sense of Place
• A sense of place involves a psychological bond between people and their location.
These stem from the physical landscape of the area, human activities, and institutional
bodies. A sense of place is associated with the 'local roots' of an area.
• It recognizes that collective experiences have led to shared aspirations, concerns, goals,
• Sense of place provides some protection against the landscapes produced via
globalization, which are associated with placelessness.
• Strong senses of place in Canada are particularly evident in Atlantic Canada and the
Prairies. In Atlantic Canada, the sea/fishery exerts a powerful influence upon this region.
When the cod fishery crashed in the 90s, the small fishing communities in the area had to find a way to cope. In the prairies, harsh climate conditions have impacted
agriculture, and thus life on the prairies. In both of these areas, poor economic
circumstances have led to shared aspirations, goals, values, etc.
• Although a sense of place often arises as result of extreme weather events, this is not
always the case. A sense of place can also evolve from a regions history and geography.
For example, B.C has developed a sense of place as a result of its isolation by the
Rocky Mountains. An equally strong sense of place exists in Quebec (separatism)
• A sense of place is more than just bad memories/resentment. It is about home, security
and the strength to endure unexpected situations in a locale.
6 Regions of Canada
• Canada is defined as a country of regions, each with its own strong sense of regional
pride, but also a commitment to Canadian federalism.
• Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Western Canada, British Columbia, Territorial North.
• Why have these areas been defined as regions?
They are manageable sections.
They are identifiable by a set of physical features.
Breakdown is on a provincial basis (this makes it easy to study statistics and
These regions are commonly used by the media.
Characteristics of the 6 Regions
• These regions have been balanced by their geographic size, economic importance, and
population size. Progression of Regional Population
• In the 1870s, the population was almost entirely confined to Atlantic Canada. However,
now it has shifted. Atlantic Canada has lost its proportion as people have moved to the
• This model describes interaction among regions and Ottawa. It is evident in Canada.
• It is also referred to as the heartland/hinterland model.
• Based on two developmental theories. The first is Innis's staples thesis (definition stated
below). The second is Wallerstein's capitalist world-systems theory (Describes modern
day capitalism. States that capitalist economics results in regionally uneven
development. Industrial nations represent the core. Developing nations form the
periphery. Semi peripheries are those countries that are partly industrialized).
• The core periphery model is based on the idea that both parts are dependent on each
other but the core (industrial heartland) dominates the economic relationship with its
periphery (resource hinterland). The core has a high capacity for generating/absorbing
innovative change, while development of the peripheral regions is determined by the
core region institutions on which they depend.
• One measure of this model is based on Canada's economic structure which consists of
primary (resource extraction/harvesting), secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary
(services). Each region has a different mix of primary, secondary and tertiary sectors
(providing evidence for the model). Core regions have a high proportion of the labour
force engaged in secondary and tertiary activities. Periphery regions have a high
proportion of the labour force engaged in primary activities.
• In Canada, the core is considered to be southern Ontario and southern Quebec. The
core is the focus of economic, political and social activity. Most people live in the core
which is urban and industrialized. Ontario/Quebec make up the core due to their
favourable agricultural base (most fertile land in country) combined with their head start
in settlement, high population growth and rapid development of a manufacturing base. All other areas in the country are peripheries (1 core and 3 periphery regions). However,
regions are dynamic. Canada's 6 regions can change their position within the model.
• B.C. and the prairie provinces are considered to be upward transitional regions
(economy is improving as capital and labour flow into the rapidly developing area),
Atlantic Canada is a downward transition region (economy is declining as unemployment
rises and out migration increases. Often, this is a result of a region dependent on
resource development that has seen a depletion or complete exhaustion of the
resource), and the territorial North is a resource frontier (few people live here and little
development has occurred as it is located very far from the core. As energy/mineral
deposits are discovered, prospects for economic growth are enhanced).
• In general, as one moves from a core toward a periphery:
Regional disparity increases (more poverty in peripheries, especially far north).
Median income decreases.
Characteristics of Cores
• Receives raw materials from the periphery.
• Manufacturing is a common industry.
• Geographically small.
• Diverse economy.
• Urban and Densely populated.
• Home to corporate headquarters.
Characteristics of Peripheries
• Purchases finished goods from the core (Canada makes cars and ships them out).
• Resource based economy.
• Geographically large.
• Rural and sparsely populated.
Mechanisms Creating Core/Periphery Model
1. Regional Exploitation Theory
The wealthy core exploits the natural wealth of the periphery leaving it
impoverished. 2. Modernization Theory
The core invests in the periphery and helps it to develop. The core may invest in
the periphery by increasing capital (via federal government and buisnesses).
Sub Cores in Canada
• At a smaller scale, there is evidence of sub-cores existing in Canada:
The Staples Thesis
• How did Canada’s core become the core?
The Staples Thesis (Harold Innes, 1930s) is a proposed explanation. It is a
theory of economic development that explains why Canada has developed
distinct regional economies.
• What is a ‘staple’ product?
A natural resource that can be exploited relatively quickly and cheaply for profit.
Ex: forestry, fishing, hunting (fur)
• Definition: The regional economic history of Canada was linked to the discovery,
utilization, and export of staple resources in Canada’s vast frontier. The theory is based
on resource development in the Hinterland (Canada) and trade with the heartland (Great
Britain). It was expected that eventually, economic diversification would take place,
making peripheral regions less reliant on primary resources.
• Atlantic Canada was the first region to be settled and actually began as a periphery to
• Over time there has been an east to west progression of staples.
• Staple trap: Collapse of an economy based on non renewable resources
Progression of Canada's Staples
1. Fish (east) This was the earliest staple product.
2. Furs (east--->west). This was around Hudson Bay (Northern Quebec)
3. Timber (east-->west). Cut trees and move to the next area.
4. agriculture (Ontario-->west) 5. Oil (west)
6. Mined minerals (North)
Economic Linkages for Growth
• Watkins introduced three concepts to the staples thesis.
• Three types of economic linkages are necessary for growth:
Backward linkage: Supplies to the staple industry/Investments in
infrastructure/tools for production and transport of staples (i.e. saws and tools for
the forest industry).
Forward linkage: Local processing before export/Investments in staples
production/processing (i.e. squaring timber before shipment)
Final demand linkage: Service the needs of workers and families/Expenditures
of income generated in the production/export of staples (general stores, schools,
Events Contributing to Core Location
• 1879: National Policy (IMPORTANT DATE)
Happened 12 years after we became a country.
This created a Canada-wide market for Canadian goods by implementing tariffs
(tax on foreign goods) and restricting trade on outside goods.
• Implications of the National Policy
It prevented/discouraged Canadians from purchasing cheaper goods from the
It favoured further economic and manufacturing growth in Ontario and Quebec
since this is where transportation costs were minimized (guaranteed these areas
It had a negative impact in the west because they had to purchase expensive
goods from Canada’s core but they were selling staple goods to the U.S. at low
prices (selling low and buying high).
• 1989: Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement
It helped peripheries by providing cheaper products to purchase and also
providing a larger market for staple products.
However, many companies began integrating major plants and feeder factories in
one general location (U.S. and Canadian manufacturing core) Canada-US Free Trade Relations
• Continentalism has become prevalent in Canada. It refers to agreements that promote
Canadian trade and economic ties with the U.S. To many, it seemed inevitable as
Canada's topography runs in a North-South orientation, and exports to the U.S are
essential for Canadian industries. However, some fear that continentalism may erode
Canadian sovereignty (independent authority over a geographic area).
• Since the Auto Pact Agreement of 1965 between the United States and Canada, trade
relations have dominated the Canadian economy. This agreement removed all tariffs on
cars, trucks, automotive parts, etc between the two countries which greatly benefitted
large American car makers. In exchange, the top 3 car manufacturers agreed that
Canada maintain the same level of automobile production.
• Canada's domination in trade was also seen with efforts to gain access to U.S trade
through the Free Trade Agreement (1989) and the North American Free Trade
Agreement (1994). The FTA was meant to integrate the Canadian and U.S economies.
This removed a variety of trade restrictions, resulting in a large increase in cross border
trade (Note: Canada was not assured that their share of economic activities would be
maintained). NAFTA broadened the region of the FTA to include Mexico.
• Canada's production depends on exports because we have a small domestic market.
Trade allows Canada to achieve low costs of production through economies of sale
(the greater the quantity of a good produced, the lower the per-unit fixed cost because
these costs are shared over a larger number of goods)
The Thickening Canada/US Border
• This has been an ongoing concern since Sep. 11, 2001. Washington took measure to
protect itself against future attacks. This has led to delays at the border, which is
inhibiting Canada-U.S trade.
• Auto manufacturing assembly plants in southern Ontario need easy access to the U.S.
market, especially for parts companies that operate on a just-in-time principle (don't
deliver the materials until they are needed).
• Residents of one country are now required to show passports when crossing into the
other country by either land or air. This has led to a decline in tourism especially in
border cities (Niagara Falls and Windsor)
• The U.S. federal government favours a North American security perimeter that includes
a common position on immigration, military, and trade policies (not including Mexico).
These are designed to reduce the chance of terrorist attacks. For Canada, such an
agreement may lead to an erosion of sovereignty (our own rules). Thus, it is unlikely to
happen. • Canada is faced with a problem: Embrace the N.A security perimeter (and risk erosion of
sovereignty) or risk economic damage due to delays at the border?
Implications of U.S Trade
• Each region of Canada has a different set of natural resources/manufacturing activities.
Thus, the type of trade with the U.S varies from region to region.
• Primary/Semi processed products dominate trade from B.C, Western Canada, Atlantic
Canada and the Territorial North. Manufactured goods are key exports from Ontario and
Canada in the Global World
• There is a core/periphery on a global scale where North America and Europe make up
• A third area called the “semi-periphery” is evident in Asia (China, Korea, Japan) where
there is strong economic growth.
• Diversification of trade is a top priority for Canada to take advantage of the growth in
• The U.S. will likely always remain Canada's principal market.
• Definition: The study of the earth's natural features.
• Physical geography is essential to understanding regional geography. It helps shape
Canada's national and regional character, and provides an explanation for the
distribution of Canada's population. It also provides a basis for the core/periphery model.
Regions with a more favorable physical base are more likely to develop into core
regions, while regions with less favorable physical conditions have less opportunity to
encourage settlement and economic development.
• Physical geography varies across Canada. In our study of the physical geography of
Canada, we will define 5 different categories:
Soil. • Regional geography will look at how physical geography varies & influences human
settlement. Regional geographers are also concerned with the effect of human activities
on the natural environment.
Canada vs U.S-Two Different Geographies
• Both countries occupy N.A, but their geographies are strikingly different.
• Canada has a much larger area than the U.S, but only a very small portion is suitable for
agriculture/settlement. The remainder is dominated by polar climates and permafrost.
• Most Canadians live in a zone close to the U.S border where more temperate climates
• The U.S simply has a larger area of land that is suitable for agriculture and settlement.
Geology of Canada
• Three major rock types:
Igneous rock: Molten rock that emerged onto Earth's surface and cooled. It is
hard, resists erosion, and often contains minerals.
Sedimentary rock: Layered rock formed from particles derived from previously
existing rock. Sedimentary rock is composed of materials that have been affected
by wind and weathering. Weathering is the breakdown of the rock and erosion is
the movement of the broken materials. Sedimentary rocks are usually flat and
horizontal. Sediments are cemented together by pressure and do not generally
contain any mineral content. Fossil fuels are sometimes found in these rock
Metamorphic rock: Pre-existing rocks that change through the process of
extreme heat and pressure. They sometimes have minerals. Limestone is a
sedimentary rock; the metamorphic form of Limestone is Marble.
Major Geologic Elements of Canada
• The earth's surface features a variety of landforms; mountains, plateaus and lowlands.
They are subject to change by various physical processes.
• Canadian Shield
It is composed of ancient hard, resistant molten rock. It extends from Yukon
through the northern Prairie provinces th