GGR Reading Notes
CH1. Regions of Canada
Geography as a Discipline
- Living, working, and sharing together in a common space inevitably leads to the formation of a
regional identity and consciousness. Both are products of region’s physical geography, historical
events, and economic situation.
- Regional geography has evolved over time. Other expressions of regional belonging and
consciousness are sense of place and power of place.
- Regionalism divides countries into different parts. Why has regionalism exerted- and continued
Each region experienced a different pattern of historic settlement and relationship with
Aboriginal peoples, which together provide a distinct cultural base. In turn, the more recent
immigration of people from around the world has created a pluralistic society that contains
a significant visible minority.
Canada’s uneven population distribution and economic activities concentrate ‘power’ in
The federal government formulates policies and programs designed to promote the national
interest, but the impact of Ottawa’s efforts flow mainly to the heavily populated areas,
namely Central Canada.
Canada’s Geographic Regions
- Boundaries separating regions are best considered transition zones rather than finite limits.
- Canada as composed of six geographic regions
- These regions:
are associated distinctive physical features, natural resources, and economic activities;
reflect the political structure of Canada
are linked to regional identity
reveal regional economic strengths and cultural presence - These key economic activities are:
Ontario: automobile manufacturing
Quebec: hydroelectric power
British Columbia: forest industry
Western Canada: agriculture
Atlantic Canada: fisheries
The Territorial North: megaprojects
The Dynamic Nature of Regions
- The growth of population in Western Canada and British Columbia is revealed of a change over
- Events that changed Canada and its regions include:
The end of the baby boom has meant greater reliance on immigration to keep canada’s
population increasing; with rapid growth in urban Canada fed by immigration, our cities
have become much more pluralistic, reflected by federal support for multiuculturalism
beginning in the 1970s.
Faultlines within Canada
- ‘faultlines’ – to the economic, social, and political cracks that divide regions and people in
Canada and threaten to destabilize Canada’s integrity as a nation.
- Four factors
- First, population and economic power are shifting from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and even
Ontario to Western Canada and British Columbia.
- Second, the pluralistic nature of Canadian society represents another significant factor. Plurlism
is an expanding phenomenon because of the flood of non-Western immigrants into Canada.
- Aboriginal peoples form the third factor. Canada’s First Peoples have struggled to find a place
within a Canadian society in which they have been marginalized.
- The last factor is the place of Quebec within Canada. With its distinct culture and French
language, Quebec, as a people and as a government, views its place within Canada and North
America through a different lens from the used in other regions of Canada.
- Ontario and Quebec have long been the manufacturing centre of Canada. These demographic,
economic, and political advantages illustrate the dominant position of these provinces in the
nation’s affairs and support the notion of a core region.
- Quebec, with its culture and French language, forms a distinct region within Canada. Tensions
between English-speaking Canada and Quebec have often erupted over language issues. Within
Quebec, an internal faultline exists between separatists and federalists. -Aboriginal Peoples and the Non-Aboriginal Majority
- Some First nations have obtained self-government in the form of an ethnic government with
powers at least at the municipal level but not at the provincial level. – ‘nested federalism’
-Newcomers and Old-timers
- Canada is a land of immigrants. Early French and English settlers had a very difficult time
adjusting to the New World.
- Yet, for most immigrants in more recent years who have come from non-European countries,
may face both open and subtle forms of racial discrimination.
- The concentration of new immigrants in Canada’s major cities has both advantages and
disadvantages. Newcomers have more cultural anchors to support them, such as family and
friends who speak their native tongue, restaurants that serve traditional foods, and religious
institutions that provide both spiritual and community support. A disadvantage may be a snese
of isolation from other Canadians.
Power of Place
- Staples thesis – it represents a mix of natural and economic components, emphasizing at the
regional level natural wealth, geographic situation, and access to global markets.
- Hinterlands with resource-oriented economies were at a disadvantage compared to highly
industrialized core areas.
- Hinterlands with narrow resource-based economies are subject to rapid increases in economic
activity in good times (booms) and rapid decreases in bad times (busts). Boom-and-bust cycles
are most evident in the Territorial North, where the economy depends most heavily on natural
- Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, world prices have favoured manufactured
goods over resources, that is, prices for manufactured goods have risen more than prices for
resources. This price relationship underlies the nature of the core/periphery theory, namely that
manufacturing areas gain more wealth over time than do resources-based regions.
- But the world economy may have reached a tipping point and entered what is called the super
Sense of Place
- Sense of place has deep roots in cultural and regional geography.
- It reflects a deeply felt attachment to a region or area by local residents who have, over time,
bonded to their environment and resulting institutions.
- The concept of a sense of place, then, recognizes that people living in a region have undergone a
collective experience that leads to shared aspirations, concerns, goals and values. Over time,
such experiences develop into a social cohesiveness among those people living within a spatial
- A sense of place can also evolve from a region’s history and geography. - A region, then, is a synthesis of physical and human characteristics that, combined with its
distinctiveness from surrounding regions, produces a unique character, including a sense of
place and power.
The Core/Periphery Model
- A modified version of the core/periphery model provides a conceptual basis for understanding
the origins and economic structures of Canadian regions as well as interactions between regions
-Applying the Core/Periphery Model to Canada
Core region (Ontario and Quebec) – the focus of economic, political, social activity. Most
people live in the core, which is highly urbanized and industrialized. The core has a high
capacity for innovation and economic change.
Periphery region: upward transitional region (BC and Western Canada) – region’s economy
and population are growing as both capital and labour flow into this rapidly developing area.
Initial development occurred in the primary sector, now a greater emphasis on
manufacturing and service activities.
Periphery region: downward transitional region (Atlantic Canada) – economy is declining,
unemployment is rising, and out-migration is occurring. An ‘Old’ region dependent on
resource development for its economic growth. Now these resources have passed their
prime or have been exhausted.
Periphery region: resource frontier (the Territorial North) – Located far from the core region,
few people live in this frontier and little development has taken place. Resource companies
are just beginning to penetrate into this remote area.
Canada-US Trade Relations
- First, wit